ART WORKS: Application Review

Applications will be reviewed on the basis of the following criteria:

The artistic excellence of the project, which includes the:

  • Quality of the artists, arts organizations, arts education providers, works of art, or services that the project will involve, as appropriate.
  • Artistic significance of the project.

The artistic merit of the project, which includes the:

  • Potential to achieve results consistent with the NEA outcome selected from the following:
    • Creating art that meets the highest standards of excellence.
    • Engaging the public with diverse and excellent art.
    • Enabling participants to acquire knowledge or skills in the arts.*
    • Strengthening communities through the arts.
  • Appropriateness of the proposed performance measurements and their ability to demonstrate that the selected NEA outcome was achieved. This includes, where relevant, measures to assess student and/or teacher learning in arts education.
  • Potential impact on artists (including evidence of direct payment), the artistic field, and the organization's community.
  • Appropriateness of the project to the organization's mission, audience, community, and/or constituency.
  • Plans for documentation, evaluation, and dissemination of the project results, as appropriate.
  • Ability to carry out the project based on such factors as the appropriateness of the budget, the quality and clarity of the project goals and design, the resources involved, and the qualifications of the project's personnel.
  • Where appropriate, potential to reach underserved populations such as those whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability.
  • Where applicable, extent to which the project is considered to be innovative, which includes how the project may:
    • Prove transformative with the potential for meaningful change;
    • Be distinctive by offering fresh insights and new value for the field and/or the public through unconventional solutions; and
    • Be shared and/or emulated, or lead to other advances in the field.
  • Extent to which a project is inclusive of individuals from all demographic backgrounds of the community, and physical and cognitive abilities; and where applicable, the extent to which a project specifically addresses the issue of inclusion.

* For Arts Education applications, reviewers will consider how closely projects align with either national or state arts education standards.

What Happens to Your Application

Applications are evaluated according to the "Review Criteria" for their category.

The Art Works category use the agency's traditional method of application review. After processing by Arts Endowment staff, applications are reviewed, in closed session, by advisory panelists. Each panel comprises a diverse group of arts experts and other individuals, including at least one knowledgeable layperson, with broad knowledge in the areas under review. Panel membership changes regularly. The panel recommends the projects to be supported, and the Arts Endowment staff reconciles panel recommendations with the funds that are available. These 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 recommendations for grants in all funding categories and makes the final decision on all grant awards. Applicants are then notified of funding decisions.

After notification, applicants with questions may contact the Arts Endowment staff. Any applicant whose request has not been recommended may ask for an explanation of the basis for denial. In such instances, the Arts Endowment must be contacted no later than 30 calendar days after the official notification.

See the "Application Calendar" for information on when we expect to announce grant awards and rejections, and the earliest dates by which projects may begin.