Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation: Grants for Music

OVERVIEW: Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation tasks itself with supporting artistic work created by, presented to, and engaged with its geographic region.

IP TAKE: Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation is primarily focused on bringing artistic expression into its region, but it wants that artistic work to come from all around the world. Music performance, engagement, and legacy are at the forefront of this organization’s giving—especially jazz—primarily through its support of presenting organizations.

PROFILE: The name Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation leads you to make assumptions about the organization's focus. Those assumptions you’ll make are partially right and partially wrong.

Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, or MAAF, is a vigorous funder of the arts, supporting creators who live and work all over the United States—and the world. So why the “Mid Atlantic” name? It’s because the foundation’s focus is bringing this diversity of artists and artistic expression into its region for performances and community engagement, and is primarily focused on funding the presenting organizations that will host them there.

The “there” of the Mid Atlantic: Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. The foundation also intriguingly includes support of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

If this strikes you as a lot of land mass, a lot of diversity, and a lot of opportunity for both artistic expression and showcasing it, you’re correct on all fronts. Commensurate with all of this, MAAF provides grants to a wide range of artists and organizations.

The Grants for Artists "allow artists to explore and create, provide touring engagements regionally and internationally, help to build audiences, and provide support and services to assist in career development."

The Grants for Organizations's goal is to "strengthen the region’s presenter network, give communities access to high quality artistic experiences, build audiences, and provide opportunities for greater understanding and appreciation of the arts.."

The Living Legacy Jazz Award "recognizes distinguished performers who have made a special commitment to jazz education, and who have worked to impart his or her unique knowledge of the art of jazz to emerging artists."

The biggest of MAAF’s funding programs is ArtsCONNECT, a program that’s all about teamwork: It provides support for projects in which at least three Mid Atlantic performing arts presenters from two different states work collaboratively to present a touring solo artist or ensemble. 

If your plan is funded, MAAF will grant each presenting organization between $1,000 to $10,000 to bring the music performance artist or group to its stage and its community. (This can go up to $15,000 if new, commissioned work is being presented.) This dollar range reflects MAAF’s commitment to covering 50 percent of each presenting organization’s costs—including musicians’ appearance fees, travel, lodging, and performance operating expenses.

As for who these music groups are? Applications that make the cut are presenting musicians who demonstrate “artistic excellence,” which MAAF measures in part by awards, honors, previous grants, and performance history. The music group being presented must also have a proven history of “experience in touring.” 

Recently funded tours shows that MAAF likes music from around the world, including performance that is steeped in a singular tradition and that which is influenced by a variety of styles. Refreshingly different than many funders, MAAF does not favor traditional classical music groups—in fact, you’ll have to struggle to find even one amongst its recently touring ArtsCONNECT projects.

A sampling of the musicians who have recently been presented and supported by funds flowing through ArtsCONNECT include Black Violin (based in Fort Lauderdale, FL), Julie Fowlis (based in Ireland), Todd Green (based in Minden, NV), Cristin Pato (based in New York, NY), and Shomyo no Kai (based in Japan). 

In a similar vein, MAAF also operates a Special Presenter Initiatives program. It's a microcosm of ArtsCONNECT, specifically geared towards bringing performance to Delaware, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands (the smallest populations in the Mid Atlantic region) with grants ranging from $500 to $5,000. For this program, the performance groups must be from the Mid Atlantic or reside outside of the U.S. Music groups who have recently been funded through this program include Deanna Bogart and Miguel Zenon.

Jazz music, the crown jewel of MAAF music funding, has a couple of special presenting organization programs of its own. The Jazz Touring Network also operates in a fashion similar to ArtsCONNECT, but with a singular jazz mission. A presenting organization applies alone (no need for a consortium this time) to be added to the “permanent roster” of venues that will be financially supported—again, the funds then flowing to the musicians—when they sign on to present a touring jazz artist. This subsidy is capped at $5,000 annually for the first three years the presenting organization is on the roster, then at $2,500 from there on out. Recent jazz artists to tour through this program include Chris Brubeck’s Triple Play (based in Wilton, CT), Gregory Porter (based in Brooklyn, NY), and Catherine Russell (based in New York, NY), among many others. It’s an eclectic list; this program supports a wide range of jazz performance styles and traditions.

There are other cultural sub-sections of giving too. Southern Exposure is a national funding initiative that provides support to bring "exemplary contemporary and traditional performing arts" from Latin America to communities throughout the U.S (no geography restrictions here). This program operates as a hybrid, partly likes ArtsCONNECT in that it funds presenting organizations to bring in performance groups, and partly as a curator, since it selects a roster of groups the presenting organizations can bring in. Music groups on the roster include Cimarron from Colombia and Cumbia All Stars from Peru.  

Lastly, if you’re a musician or music group that resides either in the Mid Atlantic region or outside of the U.S., you may want to seek out the opportunity to join MAAF’s Mid Atlantic Tours roster, which puts you on a touring bill traveling throughout the region with the foundation’s oversight.

MAAF reports that in 2015 alone, it administered 240 grants totaling $1,065,352, resulting in 454 performances. These are big numbers, so there is certainly opportunity here if you’re a Mid Atlantic organization looking to present some music—or some musicians looking to partner with them.

PEOPLE