Round One Narrative Tips


We highly recommend Sondra Perl’s Composing Guidelines process for help in drafting your project narrative. A video walkthrough can be accessed through the City University of New York’s Compositions Commons HERE.

In addition, the following bullet points may help  stimulate your thinking.

  • To begin, write down concretely, what you propose to create. Is it a play? A multidisciplinary event? A community-derived opera? A dance? Whatever it is, state this clearly and simply in the first sentence or two of your proposal.
  • Imagine and describe how the public might experience the most ideal version of the project. Even if you are in the very early stages, it will serve you to provide a strong visual sense of where you intend to go. Doing so gives the reviewer/panelist a map so they can follow your thinking into more abstract areas.
  • Offer clear and efficient descriptions of the mediums / conventions / influences you are using. Restraint can be useful here. Saying the work will “mix poetry, burlesque, folk music, large-scale video projections and dance” suggests you are throwing a little bit of everything because you don’t actually have a clear idea in mind. If each of those elements is, in fact, essential to the piece that’s great, but then it’s even more imperative that you explain precisely why.
  • Be clear and convincing that you can pull off this project, especially in terms of technical expertise. If a central element is, for example, live video, and you have never before used that form of media, acknowledge that fact and talk about how (and why) you plan to incorporate the requisite expertise. If, on the other hand, you are using this project to expand your current practice, state that clearly and describe a detailed plan for your own creative development in that direction.
  • Talk a bit about why this project is right for you right now. Linking a new work to aspects of past projects is enormously helpful to your reviewer / panelist.
  • Depending on the kind of work you create, you may want to address power dynamics in the creation, development, and distribution of the project. Talk directly about intended publics (if you have them), and whether you do or do not have relationships with the communities your Creative Team is interested in working with.
  • In terms of providing some evidence of alignment with “questioning, disrupting, complicating, and challenging inherited notions of social and cultural hierarchy across the current American landscape,” this could be an opportunity to talk about the bodies in the room, the decision-making process, the disruption of white privilege, the complication of Western aesthetics, and/or making visible that which has been historically invisibilized. MAP supports projects that address these concerns in the processes of creating and distributing the work, and/or through the content and themes of the work itself.
  • Avoid generic marketing language (“genre-exploding, most innovative art you’ve ever seen”). Using the words “genre-exploding” without contextualizing what that means to you is not helpful to reviewers.
  • Avoid writing what you think panelists want to hear. What they want to hear is your perspective!