The guiding principle of "Art Works" is at the center of everything we do at the NEA. "Art Works" refers to three things: the works of art themselves, the ways art works on audiences, and the fact that art is work for the artists and arts professionals who make up the field.
To make "art work," the NEA has included the advancement of innovation as a core component of its mission as a way to ensure the vitality of the arts. We recognize that arts and design organizations are often in the forefront of innovation in their work and strongly encourage innovative projects which are characterized as those that:
- Are likely to prove transformative with the potential for meaningful change, whether in the development or enhancement of new or existing art forms, new approaches to the creation or presentation of art, or new ways of engaging the public with art;
- Are distinctive, offering fresh insights and new value for their fields and/or the public through unconventional solutions; and
- Have the potential to be shared and/or emulated, or are likely to lead to other advances in the field.
Through the projects that we support in the Art Works category, we want to achieve the following four outcomes:
- Creation: The creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence,
- Engagement: Public engagement with diverse and excellent art,
- Learning: Lifelong learning in the arts, and
- Livability: The strengthening of communities through the arts.
- Partnerships can be valuable to the success of projects. While not required, applicants are encouraged to consider partnerships among organizations, both in and outside of the arts, as appropriate to their project.
- American arts and design organizations must be inclusive of the full range of demographics of their communities, as well as individuals of all physical and cognitive abilities. Toward that end, we encourage projects for which NEA support is sought to strive for the highest level of inclusiveness in their audiences, programming, artists, governance, and staffing. We also welcome projects that will explicitly address the issue of inclusion.
- We are interested in projects that extend the arts to underserved populations -- those whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability. This is achieved in part through the use of Challenge America funds.
- The Art Workscategory does not fund direct grants to individuals. Direct grants to individuals are offered only in the category of Literature Fellowships.
- Grants generally will range from $10,000 to $100,000. No grants will be made below $10,000. Grants of $100,000 or more will be made only in rare instances, and only for projects that the Arts Endowment determines demonstrate exceptional national or regional significance and impact. In the past few years, well over half of the agency's grants have been for amounts less than $25,000.