Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation: Grants for Music

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

IP TAKE: Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation seeks to bring artistic expression to its region. However, that artistic work can come from all around the world. Music performance, engagement, and legacy are at the forefront of this funder’s grantmaking.

PROFILE: Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, or MAAF, is a vigorous funder of the arts and supporter of creators who live and work all over the United States and the abroad. The foundation seeks to develop “partnerships and programs that reinforce artists’ capacity to create and present work and advance access to and participation in the arts.” MAAF provides grants to a wide range of artists and organizations.

For the foundation’s purposes, the Mid-Atlantic region consists of Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. However, it also supports the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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 seeks 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 largest of MAAF’s funding programs is ArtsCONNECT, a program that prioritizes 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. 

MAAF provides each funded program 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.

The foundation funds 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.” 

A review of past grantees reveals that MAAF privileges music from around the world, including performance that is steeped in a singular tradition and which is influenced by a variety of styles. Unlike other funders, MAAF does not favor traditional classical music groups—in fact, it is difficult to find even one amongst its funded touring ArtsCONNECT projects. Past ArtsCONNECT grantees 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). Grants range from $500 to $5,000. For this program, performance groups must be from the Mid Atlantic or reside outside of the U.S. Music groups who have received funding through this program include Deanna Bogart and Miguel Zenon.

Jazz music is a clear funding priority for MAAF. The Jazz Touring Network 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 and then at $2,500 from there on out. Jazz artists who have received funding 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 funding 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 like 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, musicians or music groups residing either in the Mid Atlantic region or outside of the U.S. may want to join MAAF’s Mid Atlantic Tours roster, which puts acts on a touring bill traveling throughout the region with the foundation’s oversight.

MAAF reports that it annually administers hundreds of grants totaling around a $1,000,000. These are big numbers, and there is certainly opportunity here for a Mid Atlantic organization looking to present some music—or for some musicians looking to partner with them.

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