PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENTS: Application Review

Review Criteria

Partnership Agreements/State Arts Agencies

The following criteria are considered in the review of applications:

A.  Quality of the planning process

  1. The identification of needs and opportunities through an inclusive process that assures the participation of all appropriate constituencies in designing and developing the plan.

  2. Efforts taken to include the perspectives of all constituencies, including but not limited to: those in underserved communities, artists, arts organizations, educators, state agencies, community groups, businesses, and the regional arts organization that serves the state. Efforts may involve a variety of strategies including public meetings, surveys, interviews, and other use of media appropriate to the constituent body.

B.  Quality of the plan

Including vision, mission, appropriateness of goals and strategies, evaluation plans, adaptability, centrality of the arts, and clarity.

C.  Quality of accomplishments and implementation in relation to the plan

  1. Execution of the plan including agency programs, collaborations, leadership, and other accomplishments and the impact on the SAA, its partners, and constituents. This includes the potential to achieve results addressing state priorities and the following NEA outcomes:

    • Creation: The portfolio of American art is expanded.

    • Engagement: Americans throughout the nation experience art.

      For requests (from SAAs directly or from nonprofit organizations working in cooperation with their SAA) to strengthen state support of the folk & traditional arts through support for professional folk arts positions, reviewers will also consider the likelihood that the position can be supported independently of the NEA within three years.

    • Learning: Americans of all ages acquire knowledge or skills in the arts.

      For activities that relate to pre-K through 12 arts education, reviewers will also consider the priority, leadership, and implementation strategies given arts education; the involvement of appropriate constituencies; and the reach of arts education activities throughout the state, especially to underserved communities.

    • Livability: American communities are strengthened through the arts.

    • Understanding: Public knowledge and understanding about the contributions of the arts are enhanced.

  2. Proposed performance measures and their ability to provide evidence that the state priorities and NEA outcomes are achieved.

Multi-Year Review

The Arts Endowment uses staggered, multi-year review for State Partnership Agreements. While each SAA is required to submit an application annually, those organizations that are determined to have addressed satisfactorily the requirements and review criteria receive three-year approval of their proposals. They are not required to submit another full-scale application, including all material necessary for panel review, for another three years. In the other years ("off years"), the application requirements are simplified greatly. Multi-year approval is subject to an agency’s continuing ability to carry out its approved plan. At the discretion of the Arts Endowment Chairman, multi-year approval may be revoked if state support is substantially reduced or if other circumstances threaten an agency’s ability to carry out its approved plan.

Requests for support to strengthen state support of the folk & traditional arts currently are reviewed annually. However, SAAs are encouraged to engage in multi-year planning in this area for the future.

In recommending action on State Partnership Agreement proposals, the advisory panel, the National Council on the Arts, and the Chairman of the Arts Endowment have a variety of options ranging from full three-year approval, to more limited or contingent approval requiring interim response, to a determination not to provide a State Partnership Agreement.

Review Criteria

Partnership Agreements/Regional Arts Organizations

The following criteria are considered in the review of applications.

A. Quality of the planning process

  1. Quality of the partnerships with member state arts agencies and responsiveness to priorities that they identify.

  2. The identification of needs and opportunities through inclusive planning that involves member state agencies, touring artists, presenters, and other artists, supporters, and constituents, including those in underserved communities.

B. Quality of the plan

Including vision, mission, appropriateness of goals and strategies, evaluation plans, adaptability, centrality of the arts, and clarity.

C. Quality of accomplishments and implementation in relation to the plan

  1. Execution of the plan including organization programs, collaborations, leadership, and other accomplishments and the impact on the RAO, its partners, and constituents. This includes the potential to achieve results addressing regional priorities and the following NEA outcomes:

    • Creation: The portfolio of American art is expanded.

    • Engagement: Americans throughout the nation experience art.

      For Regional Touring, reviewers will also consider the strategies for ensuring that an appropriate proportion of activity takes place in underserved communities and for increasing access through educational activities and community partnerships.

      For requests (from RAOs directly or from nonprofit organizations working in cooperation with their RAO) to strengthen regional support of the folk & traditional arts through support for professional folk arts positions, reviewers will also consider the likelihood that the position can be supported independently of the NEA within three years.

    • Learning: Americans of all ages acquire knowledge or skills in the arts.

    • Livability: American communities are strengthened through the arts.

    • Understanding: Public knowledge and understanding about the contributions of the arts are enhanced.

      For National Services applications, reviewers will also consider the potential of the proposed projects to provide leadership, training, planning, coordination, and information services that increase accountability and transparency.

  2. Proposed performance measures and their ability to provide evidence that the regional priorities and NEA outcomes are achieved.

  3. Cost effectiveness of the operation.

  4. Evidence of success and the potential for success in developing an appropriate non-federal revenue base and in extending resources and effectiveness through partnerships and other means.

Multi-Year Review

The Arts Endowment uses staggered, multi-year review for Regional Partnership awards. While each RAO is required to submit an application annually, those organizations that are determined to have addressed satisfactorily the requirements and review criteria receive three-year approval of their proposals. They are not required to submit another full-scale application, including all material necessary for panel review, for another three years. In the other years ("off years"), the application requirements are simplified greatly.

Requests for support to strengthen regional support of the folk & traditional arts currently are reviewed annually. However, RAOs are encouraged to engage in multi-year planning in this area for the future.

In recommending action on Regional Partnership Agreement proposals, the advisory panel, the National Council on the Arts, and the Chairman of the Arts Endowment have a variety of options ranging from full three-year approval, to more limited or contingent approval requiring interim response, to a determination not to provide a Regional Partnership Agreement.

What Happens to Your Partnership Agreement Application

Applications are evaluated according to the "Review Criteria" for their category. After processing by Arts Endowment staff, applications are reviewed by advisory panelists. The State Partnership Agreements Panel reviews the SAA applications. It is comprised of present and former state arts agency leaders and other experienced civic and governmental leaders including at least one knowledgeable layperson. This panel's deliberations are supplemented by recommendations from specialists in arts education and in the folk & traditional arts as appropriate.

The Regional Partnership Agreements Panel (separate from that reviewing SAA applications) reviews the RAO applications. It is comprised of regional arts organization leaders and other experienced civic and governmental leaders including at least one knowledgeable layperson. This panel's deliberations are supplemented by recommendations from specialists in the folk & traditional arts as appropriate.

Panel membership changes regularly. The panel arrives at recommendations, scores to be used in apportioning funds, and comments that go back to applicants. Recommendations are forwarded to the National Council on the Arts, where they are reviewed in open session. The Council makes recommendations to the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. The Chairman reviews the Council’s recommendations and makes the final decision on all grant awards. Applicants are then notified of funding decisions.

Applicants are welcome to attend meetings of the National Council on the Arts and open advisory panel meetings.

Contact the State & Regional staff (Laura Scanlan at scanlanl@arts.gov or 202/682-5583, or Andi Mathis at mathisa@arts.gov or 202/682-5430) if you have questions about the review process.