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“What Happens After I Click Submit?”: Project Grants

September 3, 2015

Have you ever wondered about what happens in the 12-16 weeks between when a project grants deadline closes and when awards are announced? To help you understand what’s going on in that timeframe, we’ve done our best to explain the process below.

  1. The New Music USA Grantmaking staff of three (yes, three people) review all projects for eligibility.
  2. Next the staff assigns projects to 30 to 40 peer panelists from around the country based on the tags you gave your project (dance, electronics, large ensemble, etc.) and the panelists’ individual expertise. Panelists include active leaders in the field, including composers, choreographers, musicians, arts administrators, etc.
  3. Stage-one panelists are assigned a sub-set of the whole pool, approximately 100 projects each, for review over the course of four weeks. The sole review criterion at this stage is the artistic merit of the submitted work samples. You can read the review criteria we send panelists here.
  4. Once stage-one panelists are complete, an algorithm is applied to their scores that weighs them to account for any scoring tendencies. This step contextualizes panelists’ scores and ensures a fair comparison between all scores attached to a project. That means if a panelist gives a lot of high scores but no low scores, the higher scores will be weighted less when compared to another panelist who gave a lot of middle-of-the-ground scores and only one high score.
  5. Projects are then averaged and ranked by the weighted score, and, taking into account the raw panelist scores, weighted panelist scores, extreme differences in scores, and panelist comments, a list of approximately 200 projects is created that will move forward to final panel.
  6. These 200 or so projects are then assigned to 10 to 15 final peer panelists, once again pairing projects with panelists based on the project tags and each panelist’s expertise.
  7. Final panelists are given a sub-set of the 200 projects, approximately 40-50 each, to review over the course of four weeks. The final panelists review projects based on each of our three review criteria: artistry, impact, and capacity. You can read the review criteria we send panelists here.
  8. Once the final panel is complete, the same scoring algorithm is used as in stage-one panel review. Projects are then ranked by weighted scores, taking into account the raw panelist scores, weighted panelist scores, extreme differences in scores, and panelist comments to create a list of approximately 60-70 projects for award consideration.
  9. Final awards are then allocated based on project budget, request, and New Music USA’s areas of emphasis (creation of new work, new live music for dance, recording costs, etc.).
  10. At this point, awards are ready to be announced and approximately 12-16 weeks have elapsed. Notifications are sent via email to the project organizer.