The Program

The MAP Fund is founded on the principle that exploration drives human progress, no less in art than in science or medicine. MAP supports original live performance projects that embody a spirit of deep inquiry.

In particular, MAP is interested in supporting artists that question, disrupt, complicate, and challenge inherited notions of social and cultural hierarchy across the current American landscape.

As an anti-racist organization that does not support cultural appropriation, or oppressive project language, structures, or content, MAP supports artists who are trying to offer alternative artistic and social paradigms.

MAP supports projects that address these concerns through the processes of creating and distributing live performance to the public, and/or through the content and themes of the work itself.

The program pursues its mission by welcoming applications for aesthetically-diverse, live performance projects that operate in dialogue with the current socio-political climate, and by employing a new group of peer reviewers and panelists each year who are empowered to recommend the projects they believe most align with our goals through a rigorous evaluation process that is moderated by MAP staff.

MAP awards $1 million annually to up to 40 projects in the range of $10,000 – $45,000 per grant. The key features of the program are:

  • An open submission policy: MAP welcomes applications from artists and organizations across the US. Committed to the fullest expression of inclusivity, we hope to discover the freshest ideas and practices in the field, thus continuously seeding new growth.
  • Panelists and reviewers who are committed to the Fund’s ideals: To review applications, MAP hires artists and arts professionals who have demonstrated their own excellence of craft, leadership, and spirit of generosity to their peers. Their guiding role in MAP award selections allows the program to be responsive to movement in the field, as well as the socio-political moment, rather than to be prescriptive. MAP invests full authority in reviewers and panelists to interpret the program goals according to that knowledge and expertise, within facilitated conversations. Reviewers and panelists reflect the range of diversities MAP supports in its grantees (aesthetic, racial, ethnic, gender, geographic, career stage, independent artists and those connected to institutions).
  • A focus on the creative individual: The MAP application centers on the creative process and is designed to let the peer panel hear directly from artists. Core components are the artist’s personally written statement of purpose, biography, and work samples.
  • An appreciation of the artist’s process: The MAP Fund’s allowable costs are designed to emphasize process. They include residency costs, research and development expenses, workshop performances, and artist travel and commissioning fees.
  • A national presence: MAP believes that inclusivity is critical to the health of the field and is committed to welcoming applications from every state and region in the country.

MAP’s History

The MAP Fund was established in 1988 by The Rockefeller Foundation to support innovation and cross-cultural exploration in new works of live performance. The program exemplified its founders’ efforts to “address issues of cultural difference in the United States and internationally, with an emphasis on Third World cultures,” according to MAP’s original guidelines.

Over the past two decades, in response to evolving notions of cultural diversity, MAP guidelines have gradually broadened to welcome artists exploring issues of class, sexual orientation, gender, generation, faith and other aspects of cultural difference. The encouragement of formal innovation and experimentation as a means of investigation has remained consistent.

Since 1989, the program has disbursed over 27 million dollars to more than 1000 projects in playwriting, choreography, music composition, and ensemble, site-specific, and community-based performance. Projects have been undertaken in every region of the United States as well as internationally, and by conservative estimate have touched over two million audience members.

From 2001 to 2016, Creative Capital administered the program.

In 2008, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation became MAP’s primary funder joined by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in 2010.

In April 2016, MAP Fund became an independent 501c3 charitable organization, allowing MAP to seek more diverse funding sources and pursue new opportunities for growth and advancement. MAP proudly partners with ArtsPool for administrative support.

Evaluation & MAP’s Impact

The MAP Fund has been the subject of three outside evaluations. In 1999, the research firm of Adams and Goldbard undertook a broad assessment of the needs of the performance field and the specific ways in which MAP had or had not met those needs. Their research involved interviews with MAP grantees, panelists, and administrative staff, as well as with field experts who had no formal relationship to the Fund. The report concluded: “MAP is widely perceived as having made great strides toward achieving its initial aims. [It has] taken risks in supporting emerging artists who were later recognized as major contributors to the culture.”

In 2007, Creative Capital commissioned Edward Martenson, professor of arts management at Yale School of Drama, to survey all lead artist and organization officials funded since 1989, and undertake one-to-one interviews with 25 selected grantee artists. The survey, sent out to approximately 500 individuals, elicited an astonishing 50 percent response rate. Martenson’s report similarly concluded that MAP remains a critical resource in the field.