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.
Art works by enhancing the value of individuals and communities, by connecting us to each other and to something greater than ourselves, and by empowering creativity and innovation in our society and economy. The arts exist for beauty itself, but they also are an inexhaustible source of meaning and inspiration.
The NEA recognizes these catalytic effects of excellent art, and the key role that arts and design organizations play in revitalizing them. To deepen and extend the arts' value, including their ability to foster new connections and to exemplify creativity and innovation, we welcome projects 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.
Beyond encouraging projects that demonstrate these characteristics, we want to achieve the following four objectives through the Art Works category:
- 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.
Items of interest:
- 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.
- We are interested in projects, regardless of the size or type of applicant organization, that are of national, regional, or field-wide significance; that tour in several states; or that provide an unusual or especially valuable contribution because of geographic location. This includes local projects that can have significant effects within communities or that are likely to serve as models for a field.
- We urge organizations that apply under these guidelines to involve artists in their projects and to provide specific information on the participating artists in their applications.
- We are committed to supporting equitable opportunities for all applicants and to investing in diversity in the arts including works of all cultures and periods.
- We recognize that the significance of a project can be measured by excellence and invention, not solely by budget size, institutional stature, or the numbers of people or areas that are reached.
- We urge applicants to make accommodations for individuals with disabilities an integral part of their projects.
- To mark the 50th anniversary of the NEA in 2015, and the National Park Service's (NPS) Centennial in 2016, both agencies are working together to encourage the creation of and greater public engagement with art relating to the work and mission of our national park system. Projects might include the commissioning and presentation of new work in or adjacent to a national park, performances, or festivals in these settings. Additional project examples are listed in these guidelines for each artistic discipline. Applicants also may consider NPS managed trails, rivers, designated landmarks, historic sites, and heritage areas as sites of activity in a project proposal. Collaborative partnerships with the selected park area or program are strongly encouraged. For a project being proposed within a national park, applicants must first consult with the appropriate NPS official. See "NEA-NPS Imagine Your Parks Funding Collaboration" for more details.
The Art Works category 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.