Diving into Racial Equity: The MAP Fund’s Exploration By Vanessa Whang
Diving into Racial Equity written by Vanessa Whang, examines the MAP Fund’s deep examination of one of its foundational priorities—racial equity in arts and culture grantmaking—and ongoing efforts to change practices toward this goal. The MAP Fund supports original live performance projects across the U.S. that embody a spirit of deep inquiry, particularly works created by artists who question, disrupt, complicate, and challenge inherited notions of social and cultural hierarchy. In 2015, MAP undertook what started as a technology system upgrade to “better enact anti-racist and anti-oppression values in the application itself.” This step turned into a broader and layered inquiry into many processes of its arts grantmaking. The case study follows MAP’s evolution to examine biases in its: application platform, guidelines and requirements, applicant advisory supports and communications, and adjudication processes. It also chronicles MAP’s incorporation of the framework, Aesthetic Perspectives: Attributes of Excellence in Arts for Change over three grant cycles to help mitigate aesthetic bias in the panel process. An evaluation revealed its usefulness in: opening up interpretation of MAP’s review criteria, offering a shared vocabulary for deepening discussion and moving decision-making forward, challenging individual preferences, biases, and prodding reviewers to move past “stuck thinking.”
Written to inform public and private funders who are addressing equity in their grantmaking, MAP Fund’s experiences can provide insights to: re-envision who reviews proposals and how they are chosen, orient and guide reviewers and panelists to be aware of bias, and consider alternative designs for application review that are more equitable.
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