Understanding the OP App Process | The Orchard Project
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UNDERSTANDING HOW THE ORCHARD PROJECT EVALUATES APPLICATIONS

WHAT ARE THE ORCHARD PROJECT'S GOALS?

The Orchard Project was created to support storytellers and stories of extraordinary promise and impact. It is our core belief that a community of artists and a structure of flexible support can accelerate artistry and process. The Orchard Project supports original artists, teams, and companies as they aspire to develop stories in a multitude of forms, from live performance to episodic to digital to audio content. In particular, the Orchard Project is interested in supporting:

  • Ambition: Artists and projects that think ambitiously and/or push expected and traditional forms. 

    • Does the creative work assume risk and subvert dominant norms, values, narratives, standards, or aesthetics? How does the work take risks of form, content, or medium? What is the point of risk-taking?

  • Expansion: Narratives that expand the cannon to include participation, form land ideas that are not regularly presented

    • Does the creative work give voice to novel and under-represented bodies or perspectives?

  • Essentialism: Artists and projects that can uniquely be supported by the Orchard Project’s community of artists

    • Would the project benefit from a more form-fitting developelopment approach that moves beyond traditional write/reading/workshop/production paradigm? How does the stage the work is in (early idea/late draft/etc) affect its stated needs? Could feedback and support from other artists be a necessary catalyst? 

  • Engagement: Artists and projects that will be engaging and inspiring to other artists currently supported by the Orchard Project

    • Is their work relevant to larger communities of artists? Can the artists and project be ongoing and future contributors to the Orchard Project’s community of artists

  • Collaboration: Artists and projects that, when possible, reward collaboration

    • Does the artist/work reflect purposeful relationships among stakeholders? 

In addition, we have found a consistent attribute from successful applicants, whether or not we know their work previously, whether or not they have production opportunities mapped out or not, whether a project is in early or late form -- and that is that these applications have both clarity of vision and imagined tranjectory. What that means is that the applicant has clearly mapped out a statement of the work they look to create and how the OP could fit into the work’s creative development.

These emergent forces have been present in Orchard Project philosophy since its inception in 2007, and this 2021 application process is an attempt to make them more transparent and provide a framework for them to evolve over time.

While we know that it is often impossible for a project or artist to meet all of the Orchard Project’s goals, the balance between these ideals has provided a beacon for us in the past as we have aspired to create a community of artists where the sum is always greater than the parts. 

HOW THE ORCHARD PROJECT 2021 APPLICATION PROCESS ASPIRES TO OPERATE

ROUND ONE: THE APPLICATION

All of the OP 2021 programs will have two rounds in their application process. The first round will be the same for all labs and consist of the following questions, in addition to asking for program preference and basic info:

  1. Please tell us a bit about yourself, your work, and the work you aspire to make.

    1. For most labs, include CV, work samples, collaborators (if any)

  2. Please tell us a bit about what you are looking to gain from participating in the OP program. Tell us about where you might see your process before and after the OP. Please also tell us about any other developmental opportunities you are participating in or exploring.

  3. While understanding that this might change, please tell us about the work you are looking to accelerate at the Orchard Project 

    1. For most labs, this would include a small project description. For example, for the Episodic lab, we would look for a project description (logline and series overview).

    2. For all our labs, we would like to also understand anything about the logistics of projects that might identify areas of concern about whether or not the OP could support them. (size/tech)

ROUND TWO: INTERVIEWS

After tabulation of scores from Round One, the Orchard Project will invite a number of applicants for short interviews with review panelists. Before these interviews, applicants at this stage will be invited to anonymous information sessions in which they will be given the opportunity to ask questions about the programs. Interviews will be short and will likely include an opportunity to ask further questions about applications, but the format of these interviews will be up to the panelists. Interviews will be one on one, but may include a non interviewing Orchard Project staff member present to help answer questions and facilitate. All these interviews will be recorded.

2021 REVIEW STRUCTURE

The OP has had historically different application protocols for its programs, and is looking to merge the structure of the Episodic Lab program with the simplicity of its Liveness Lab and Greenhouse applications. There will be a two round process for all applications - one round in which to hone the pool of first round applicants to viable proposals, and an interview round in which additional materials may be requested. In 2021, we are attempting to expand the number of interviewees and interviewers substantially. The process will end with a live panel dialogue process to make the final selection of support. While final decisions for support will be made by Orchard Project leadership and staff, by creating a process wherein our staff only manages the process in the early phases of the process but does not serve any role in promoting applicants to the final stage, we are endeavoring to create as balanced and open a process as possible.

Using past application pools as a predictor, we are seeing the following contractions occurring after each phase:

  • AFTER 1st round applications - pool reduces to 15% of original size
  • AFTER Interviews - pool reduces by another 25-50%, to 3-5% of original size

This new model aims to ​give many more people of various career stages/identities/geographies/etc. the ability to participate as evaluators in the Orchard Project’s application process. In addition to the review structure itself, we will take the following actions to create an evaluation process in accord with the Orchard Project’s organizational goals and values:

SELECTION OF REVIEWERS:

  • The review cohort’s composition will reflect demographic dimensionality, especially with respect to race, gender, geography, area of expertise, and experience;

  • Nominations will be now be sourced from the Orchard Project’s constituents and alumni rather than staff;

  • This year, an honorarium will be offered as compensation to evaluators for approximately 5-8 hours of labor, outside of our orientation. While this work is often framed as a “service to the field,” we acknowledge that inadequate compensation is a significant barrier to participation.

We request that reviewers take personal accountability for:

  • Checking in on expectations and assumptions about artistic practice, process and product;

  • Practicing openness in reception of unfamiliar artists and organizations;

  • Noticing if or when you tend to score artists with whom you are familiar more highly than those with whom you are not familiar;

  • Evaluating each project’s alignment on its own terms, rather than through side-by-side comparisons with other projects within the applicant pool;

  • Using the Slack channel as a facilitated common space to share questions and concerns about meta-issues that surface during proposal reviews;

  • Looking for evidence of research, investigation, and/or experimentation within each unique application. Rather than expecting artists to fit into specific constraints, how can your sense of what “inquiry” looks like expand, by virtue of encountering the applicants’ ideas?

SCORING RUBRIC AND SELECTION PROCESS

The curation of the 2021 will hopefully open up access to voices currently not represented within the organizations existing systems of support. 

After reading each application AND conducting each interview, reviewers will answer a short series of questions including their familiarity with the artists, their numerical score (a quantitative evaluation of the proposal’s degree of alignment with the Orchard Project’s goals), and comments / feedback for the applicant as necessary. ​