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MAP Fund Letter of Inquiry Phase

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

The MAP deadline for submission of Letters of Inquiry  – effectively Phase One of the MAP annual grant cycle — was three weeks ago. If you are an applicant, congratulations! The biggest piece of the grant-application task is behind you!

Over the next few months, we’ll blog here occasionally about the review process, and issues or trends we perceive from the breadth of work we encounter. One of the privileges of accepting grant applications for a nationally focused award is the bird’s-eye view it provides of movement in the field. I’m here to report that even in our so-called post-human culture, contemporary performance is screaming with life!

The first thing to note about this year’s submissions are the numbers: 889 LOIs were submitted to MAP this year. That’s a jump of 13 percent from last year, and the second largest number of apps we’ve had in MAP’s history. This is thrilling for what it says about the vitality of the field, but  it also points to the enormous gap between available resources and need. As you know, MAP has the means to support only 40 of these many brilliant offerings, and the winnowing down will be painful indeed. That said, another striking thing to note are the inventive ways in which artists are looking at economic issues, often transforming those very challenges into sophisticated aesthetic statements.

Geographic representation is wide, if imbalanced: 42 states and 243 distinct cities across the U.S. are represented in this pool, with a notable increase in submissions from the Midwest (go Illinois!). As always, though, applications from New York and California dominate the numbers, this year representing well over half of all projects. (To compare demographic stats from prior MAP years, go to MAP Open Apps.)

176 projects identify as Dance, 298 as Interdisciplinary, 136 as Music Composition / New Opera (prediction: experimental opera is the next rabid cultural phenomenon. Such an exciting trend there!), 269 as Theater, and a brave 10 as Other.

As I write this, a small army of your peers — this year’s LOI readers — are submitting their assessments. We ask readers to judge a project according to its alignment with the MAP Fund goals and the strength of the artistic idea as articulated in the project description. When all the scores and comments have been collected, we carefully review each one and invite those with the strongest MAP-affinity to make a full proposal. Notification will be made the week of November 7.

We will post again soon to share more general impressions of recurring themes and issues. For now, let me say that you are a truly remarkable constituency, full of spirit, ingenuity and driving talent. Reading these proposals has been uplifting, a precious antidote to the daily news, and I am grateful for the dialogue they introduce.

Moira and the MAP Fund Staff