Opera is a multifaceted art form that comprises music and text to move a story or dramatic concept forward. The opera genre encompasses music of many periods from the works of Monteverdi, Pergolesi, Gluck, Rossini, Mozart, Verdi, and Puccini to the works of Benjamin Britten, Carlisle Floyd, Philip Glass, and beyond.

The National Endowment for the Arts supports opera companies and other organizations that professionally produce fully-staged and concert operatic works. Projects of all sizes that involve works from the entire operatic canon are eligible. The Arts Endowment is committed to advancing the highest levels of operatic artistry across the nation's cultural landscape. Support for American opera and the creation of opportunities for American artists also are of interest.


Art Works applications will be accepted under two deadlines: February 20, 2014, and July 24, 2014. Apply under the deadline with the NEA outcome (in bold below) and project example that most closely corresponds to the primary focus of your proposed project. You will be asked to indicate the outcome that is most relevant to your project in your application and on the application form.

February 20, 2014, Application Deadline
January 1, 2015, Earliest Beginning Date for Arts Endowment Period of Support


  • Commissions, residencies, and workshops with artists; development and performances of new operatic works. This may include composer, librettist, and/or artist fees.
  • Development of innovative new works that cross genres.


  • World, national, regional, and local premieres.
  • New productions of traditional and contemporary works.
  • Remounting of existing productions.
  • Concert opera: performances of the operatic repertoire that are not fully staged. (Music organizations (non-opera organizations) that are proposing concert opera projects should apply under the Music discipline.) If you are considering a concert opera project, contact Opera or Music staff before preparing an application.

July 24, 2014, Application Deadline
June 1, 2015, Earliest Beginning Date for Arts Endowment Period of Support


  • Opera festivals: commissions, residencies, and workshops with artists; development and performances of new operatic works; and development of innovative new works that cross genres. This may include composer, librettist, and/or artist fees.


  • Opera festivals: world, national, regional, and local premieres; new productions of traditional and contemporary works; and remounting of existing productions.
  • Simulcast performances in public venues.
  • Touring and outreach activities that provide access to and experience with the art form for diverse communities and new audiences.
  • Artist residency activities where the primary purpose is public engagement with art.
  • Recordings of opera works by both American and international composers.
  • Technology projects such as online resources and libraries which provide public access to operatic works.
  • Documentation, preservation, and conservation of America's opera heritage.
  • Services to the opera field, including services to opera companies, singers, composers, and librettists. These may include activities such as convening, workshops, data collection, information sharing, networks, online resources, technical assistance, publications, and professional development.


  • Education 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.)
  • Professional development programs that include theatrical training for artists who have finished their conservatory training and are emerging on the professional stage. This may include coaching, conducting, acting, stage movement, diction, language, mentorship, and career development.


  • Operatic performances and other activities in public spaces that are intended to foster community interaction and/or enhance the unique characteristics of a community.

(Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact staff if they are considering Livability as an outcome.)

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 they will be required to submit any 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 application and Final Report.) Before applying, please review the reporting requirements for the outcome 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 contacted 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 Opera staff and are reviewed by a diverse group of experts in the opera 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.


Opera Specialist: Georgianna Paul, paulg@arts.govor 202/682-5600