OUR TOWN: Application Review

Review Criteria

Arts Engagement, Cultural Planning, and Design Projects

Applications are reviewed on the basis of agency-wide criteria of artistic excellence and artistic merit.

The following are considered during the review of applications:

The artistic excellence of the project, which includes the:

  • Quality of the artists, arts or design professionals, arts organizations, works of art, or services that the project will involve, as appropriate for the community in which the project takes place.

    Artistic excellence is evaluated based on the material and work samples submitted with the application. This includes a description of the process and criteria for the selection of artists, design professionals, arts organizations, works of art, or services to ensure artistic excellence; and work samples of selected or proposed artists, design professionals, arts organizations, works of art, or services that demonstrate artistic excellence. See "How to Prepare and Submit an Application" for the material and work samples that are required to ensure and demonstrate artistic excellence.

The artistic merit of the project, which includes the following:

  • Potential of the project to achieve results consistent with the NEA outcome for Livability: Strengthening communities through the arts. This includes the potential to:

    • Catalyze a persuasive vision for enhancing the livability of the community.
    • Incorporate the arts into a systemic approach to equitable civic development.
    • Support artists, design professionals, and arts organizations by integrating the arts and design into the fabric of civic life.
    • Reflect or strengthen a unique community identity and sense of place, and capitalize on existing local assets. 
  • Strength of the proposed partnership, including the required partners, and engagement of the private and public sectors in support of the project.

  • 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 appropriate, alignment with other federal programs. This may include how the project will establish consistency with other place-based federal grant programs and policies, including, but not limited to, those from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Department of Commerce, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), such as Consolidated Plans, Analysis of impediments to Fair Housing Choice, Long Range Transportation Plans, and Asset Management Plans, as well as strategies to modify existing grants or policies.

  • Appropriateness of the project to the partners’ missions and the community in which the project will take place.

  • Ability to carry out the project based on such factors as the:

    • Appropriateness of the budget, its feasibility, level of community support, and strategy for maintaining the work of the project.
    • Likelihood that the proposed phase of the project will be completed within the proposed period of support.
    • Quality and clarity of the project goals and design.
    • Resources involved.
    • Qualifications of the project's personnel.
    • Readiness to meet requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act and/or the National Historic Preservation Act, where relevant.
  • Extent to which the project engages the public in planning for and participating in the project.

  • Appropriateness of the proposed performance measurements and their ability to demonstrate that the NEA Livability outcome was achieved, including, as appropriate, plans for documentation and evaluation of the overall project results.


Projects that Build Knowledge About Creative Placemaking

Applications are reviewed on the basis of agency-wide criteria of artistic excellence and artistic merit.

The following are considered during the review of applications:

The artistic excellence of the project, which includes the:

  • Quality of the arts- and place-based consultants and organizations that the project will involve. This includes any information provided which shows the depth of arts and place-based knowledge present in the bios and work samples.

The artistic merit of the project, which includes the following:

  • Potential of the project to achieve results consistent with the NEA outcome for Livability: Strengthening communities through the arts. This includes the potential to:

    • Incorporate a systemic approach to building knowledge about creative placemaking for the organization and broader field.
    • Expand the capacity of artists and arts organizations to work more effectively with economic and community development practitioners.
    • Expand the knowledge base in arts and place-based industry associations on equitable community development which creates opportunities for all.
  • Strength of the proposed partnership, including the required partners.
  • Involvement of the organization's membership, as appropriate.
  • Impact and reach of the project.
  • Quality of the systems for the management of new ideas, documentation, the potential for learning, and sharing of technical assistance programming.
  • Effectiveness of the technical assistance delivery.
  • Appropriateness of the project to the organization's mission and the community in which the project will take place.
  • Ability to carry out the project based on such factors as the:
    • Appropriateness of the budget, its feasibility, and strategy for maintaining the work of the project.
    • Likelihood that the proposed phase of the project will be completed within the proposed period of support.
    • Quality and clarity of the project goals and design.
    • Resources involved.
    • 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.
  • Appropriateness of the proposed performance measurements and their ability to demonstrate that the NEA Livability outcome was achieved, including, as appropriate, plans for documentation and evaluation of the overall project results.

What Happens to Your Application

All applications are reviewed according to the review criteria by an advisory panel comprised of qualified peer experts, including at least one knowledgeable layperson, representing a range of multidisciplinary art, design, and economic and community development fields. Panel recommendations are forwarded to the National Council on the Arts, which then makes recommendations to the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. The Chairman reviews the Council’s recommendations and makes the final decision on all grant awards. Pending the availability of funding, it is anticipated that applicants will be notified of award or rejection in July 2015.