ART WORKS Guidelines: Artist Communities

The National Endowment for the Arts is committed to providing assistance to artist communities for projects that encourage and nurture the development of individual artists and foster and inspire their creative processes. For the Arts Endowment's purposes, an artist community is defined as an organization, whether focused on a single discipline or multidisciplinary, whose primary mission is to provide artist residencies.

Support is available for artist communities that:

  • Provide space, time, and resources to artists for incubation, thought, or creativity in a retreat setting in an urban or rural location.
  • Foster and support the creative process of art making by providing studio facilities and assistance with living accommodations to enable artists to live and work concurrently.
  • Utilize a competitive application process to recruit and select participants, and rotate a wide range of artists in order to encourage the highest standards of creativity.


The application deadline for all artist community projects is February 19, 2015. (There is no July deadline.) The earliest beginning date for the Arts Endowment's period of performance is January 1, 2016.  

The Art Works category provides support for projects that address the following objectives (in bold below). You will be asked to indicate the objective that is most relevant to your project in your application and on the application form.


  • Stipends and living accommodations for professional artists where the primary purpose is to create new art.
  • The expansion of the pool of artists that encourages the participation of artists from a wide variety of aesthetic viewpoints, ethnic backgrounds, or geographic areas where the primary purpose is to create new art.
  • Access to facilities or technology to meet the needs of interdisciplinary or new genre artists where the primary purpose is to create new art.
  • Innovative approaches to serving as an incubator for the creation of art.
  • Innovative collaborations between artists and those from sectors outside of the arts (e.g., science) to create new art.


  • Innovative uses of science, technology, media, or new models and activities with the surrounding community that provide the public with direct experiences with resident artists and increase the visibility of the work of artists and the organization.
  • Innovative approaches to collaboration with outside organizations and disciplines where the primary purpose is public engagement with art.
  • Innovative approaches to collaboration with outside organizations, (such as any unit of the National Park Service), and disciplines where the primary purpose is public engagement with art.


  • Activities with the surrounding community that provide educational and related activities for youth, adults, intergenerational groups, and schools. (If your project is for youth, see "Choosing the Right Discipline for Youth Projects" to help you in your discipline selection.)
  • Residency exchange programs with artists and artist communities in other countries where the primary purpose is the acquisition of knowledge or skills in the arts.


  • The development of artist live/work spaces.
  • The enhancement of public spaces through commissioning and/or installation of works created by members of artist communities.
  • The engagement of artist communities in plans and processes to improve community livability.
  • Community-based partnerships that integrate artist communities with livability efforts.

(Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact staff if they are considering Livability as a primary objective.)

Project Reporting and Evaluation

We ask all applicants to define what they would like to achieve, how they will evaluate the degree to which it is achieved, and, upon completion of the project, what they have learned from their experiences. Such feedback need not entail large-scale or expensive evaluation efforts. You should do what is feasible and appropriate for your organization and project. When a grant is completed, you must submit a final report and answer questions on your achievements and how these were determined. Arts Education grantees who apply for a Direct Learning Grant will be required to describe the assessment methods used to assess learning, and may submit tools used to assess learning with their Final Report. (Please note that assessment tools may be shared publicly. If your tools are proprietary and have copyrights or trademarks attached, you will be asked to note that in your Final Report.) Before applying, please review the reporting requirements for the objective that will be selected for the proposed project: Creation, Engagement, Learning, or Livability.

Beyond the reporting requirements for all grantees, selected Art Works grantees will be asked to assist in the collection of additional information that can help the NEA determine the degree to which agency objectives were achieved. You may be required to provide evidence of project accomplishments including, but not limited to, work samples, community action plans, cultural asset studies, programs, reviews, relevant news clippings, and playbills. Please remember that you are required to maintain project documentation for three years following submission of your final reports.

Application Review

This category uses the agency's traditional method of application review. Applications are submitted to the Artist Communities staff and are reviewed by a diverse group of experts in the artist community field.
Applications are reviewed on the basis of artistic excellence and artistic merit. For more detailed information on how artistic excellence and artistic merit will be evaluated, see the "Review Criteria." You can find additional information in the "Application Review" section of the "Frequently Asked Questions." See the "Application Calendar" for information on when we expect to announce grant awards and rejections.


Artist Communities Specialist: Pepper Smith, or 202/682-5790