I’ve been working with the MAP Fund for the last few years as a consultant. Last week we announced this year’s round of grantees, including some amazing artists. Congratulations to all of you – go make art!

MAP’s a great program. They’ve been around since the 80s giving grants to performing arts projects that don’t get enough support from mainstream arts funding, either because the work is too experimental, or because it’s too socially challenging. The staff is deeply committed to fairness and openness, and has been willing to take on some very hard work to improve their process. I often describe them as using their approach to process to ‘temper justice with mercy,’ giving every application the best possible chance.

My role has been a mix of grants management, communications strategy, and technology work. If you applied this year, you’ll have noticed that MAP is running through Submittable, which is a pretty good choice for third party grant application software if you aren’t going to build your own, and don’t have too complex a process. You might also have noticed that the first round application was much more streamlined, with a huge volume of the difficult work shifted over to the second round application, including budgeting and evidence of fiscal sponsorship for non-501(c)(3) projects.

Both of those shifts took a huge burden off of artists, and put that time back into their hands. That time saved represents a lot of money, and a huge service to the arts community of which MAP can be proud.

Behind the scenes, I worked on streamlining the staff and panel processes as well, letting MAP’s efficient staff of three do more with less time, and ensuring that every step aligned with MAP’s values. We built a series of tools for the reviewer assignment, for analyzing scores, and for the panel meeting itself that led to a final panel that Executive Director Moira Brennan says was the “best panel ever.”

There’s still more we can do at MAP, particularly with leveraging MAP’s central role as a funder to connect funded projects with broader audiences and with each other, but this round of grants is a huge success. I highly recommend trying to see at least one of the funded projects live, if you can. They’re all amazing.

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