PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENTS: Application Review

Review Criteria

Partnership Agreements/State Arts Agencies

The following criteria are considered in the review of applications:

A. Quality of the planning process

  1. The identification of needs and opportunities through an inclusive process that assures the participation of all appropriate constituencies in designing and developing the plan.

  2. Efforts taken to include the perspectives of all constituencies, including but not limited to: those in underserved communities, artists, arts organizations, educators, state agencies, community groups, businesses, and the regional arts organization that serves the state.

  3. Efforts taken to  engage constituents through a variety of media including public meetings, surveys, interviews, electronic media and other methods appropriate to  constituent groups.

B.  Quality of the plan

  1. Clarity of vision and mission, goals and strategies that respond to constituent priorities.

  2. Evidence of adaptability and centrality of the arts.

  3. Goals and strategies that address areas of mutual interest: Arts Education and reaching Underserved communities.

C.  Quality of accomplishments and implementation in relation to the plan

  1. Execution of the plan including: implementation of  programs, collaborations, leadership initiatives, and other accomplishments that respond to constituent priorities and changing circumstances in the state.  This includes the potential to achieve results addressing state priorities and the following NEA objectives:
    • Creation: The portfolio of American art is expanded.

    • Engagement: Americans throughout the nation experience art.

      For requests (from SAAs directly or from nonprofit organizations working in cooperation with their SAA) to strengthen state support of the folk & traditional arts through support for professional folk arts positions, reviewers will also consider the likelihood that the position can be supported independently of the NEA within three years.

    •  Learning: Americans of all ages acquire knowledge or skills in the arts.

      For activities that relate to pre-K through 12 arts education, reviewers will also consider the priority, leadership, and implementation strategies given arts education; the involvement of appropriate constituencies; and the reach of arts education activities throughout the state, especially to underserved communities.

    • Livability: American communities are strengthened through the arts.

    • Understanding: Public knowledge and understanding about the contributions of the arts are enhanced.

  2. Proposed performance measures and their ability to provide evidence that the state priorities, as referenced in the plan, and NEA objectives are achieved.

Multi-Year Review

The Arts Endowment uses staggered, multi-year review for State Partnership Agreements. While each SAA is required to submit an application annually, those organizations that are determined to have addressed satisfactorily the requirements and review criteria receive three-year approval of their proposals. They are not required to submit another full-scale application, including all material necessary for panel review, for another three years. In the other years ("off years"), the application requirements are simplified greatly. Multi-year approval is subject to an agency’s continuing ability to carry out its approved plan. At the discretion of the Arts Endowment Chairman, multi-year approval may be revoked if state support is substantially reduced or if other circumstances threaten an agency’s ability to carry out its approved plan.

Requests for support to strengthen state support of the folk & traditional arts currently are reviewed annually. However, SAAs are encouraged to engage in multi-year planning in this area for the future.

In recommending action on State Partnership Agreement proposals, the advisory panel, the National Council on the Arts, and the Chairman of the Arts Endowment have a variety of options ranging from full three-year approval, to more limited or contingent approval requiring interim response, to a determination not to provide a State Partnership Agreement.

Review Criteria

Partnership Agreements/Regional Arts Organizations

The following criteria are considered in the review of applications.

A. Quality of the planning process

  1. The identification of needs and opportunities through inclusive planning that involves member state agencies and other constituents, including those in underserved communities.

  2. Efforts taken to include the perspectives of all constituencies, including but not limited to: state arts agencies, artists, arts organizations, community groups, businesses, and those in underserved communities.

  3. Efforts taken to engage constituents through a variety of media including public meetings, surveys, interviews, electronic media and other methods appropriate to constituent groups.

B.  Quality of the plan

  1. Clarity of vision and mission, goals and strategies that respond to constituent priorities.

  2. Evidence of adaptability and centrality of the arts.

C.  Quality of accomplishments and implementation in relation to the plan

  1. Execution of the plan including: implementation of  programs, collaborations, leadership initiatives, and other accomplishments that respond to constituent needs and changing circumstances in the region.  This includes the potential to achieve results addressing RAO priorities and the following NEA objectives:

    • Creation: The portfolio of American art is expanded.

    • Engagement: Americans throughout the nation experience art.

      For Regional Touring, reviewers will also consider the strategies for ensuring that an appropriate proportion of activity takes place in underserved communities and for increasing access through educational activities and community partnerships.

      For requests (from RAOs directly or from nonprofit organizations working in cooperation with their RAO) to strengthen regional support of the folk & traditional arts through support for professional folk arts positions, reviewers will also consider the likelihood that the position can be supported independently of the NEA within three years.

    • Learning: Americans of all ages acquire knowledge or skills in the arts.

    • Livability: American communities are strengthened through the arts.

    • Understanding: Public knowledge and understanding about the contributions of the arts are enhanced.

      For National Services applications, reviewers will also consider the potential of the proposed projects to provide leadership, training, planning, coordination, and information services that increase accountability and transparency.

  2. Evidence that the RAO is responsive to the priorities of its constituents, including member state arts agencies.

  3. Evidence that the RAO has extended its capacity and resources through partnerships.

  4. Evidence from performance measures and evaluation plans that regional priorities and NEA objectives are achieved.

  5. Evidence that the RAO has grown and diversified its revenue sources; specifically non-federal revenues.

  6. Evidence that demonstrates the RAO is a cost effective operation.

Multi-Year Review

The Arts Endowment uses staggered, multi-year review for Regional Partnership awards. While each RAO is required to submit an application annually, those organizations that are determined to have addressed satisfactorily the requirements and review criteria receive three-year approval of their proposals. They are not required to submit another full-scale application, including all material necessary for panel review, for another three years. In the other years ("off years"), the application requirements are simplified greatly.

Requests for support to strengthen regional support of the folk & traditional arts currently are reviewed annually. However, RAOs are encouraged to engage in multi-year planning in this area for the future.

In recommending action on Regional Partnership Agreement proposals, the advisory panel, the National Council on the Arts, and the Chairman of the Arts Endowment have a variety of options ranging from full three-year approval, to more limited or contingent approval requiring interim response, to a determination not to provide a Regional Partnership Agreement.

Review Criteria

Partnership funds in support of activities that strengthen folk & traditional arts throughout a state or region

A. Quality of the program or project

  1. Ability to carry out the project(s)—budget, goals, project design, resources, and personnel.
  2. Potential impact on the artistic and/or cultural heritage of the nation, region, or field.
  3. Appropriateness of the project(s) to the organization’s mission, audience, community, and/or constituency.

B. Quality of the implementation, including accomplishments in
     relation to the overall plan

  1. Plans for documentation, evaluation, and dissemination.
  2. Likelihood that the project(s) will achieve the identified objective(s) and the feasibility of the proposed performance measurements.

C. Quality of work with underserved communities

  1. Potential of the project(s) to broaden access to, expand and diversify audiences for, or strengthen communities through the arts.
  2. Potential to reach underserved populations such as those whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability.

NOTE: In addition to requests to strengthen state support of the folk & traditional arts through support for professional folk arts positions, reviewers will also consider the likelihood that the position can be supported independently of the NEA within three years.

What Happens to Your Partnership Agreement Application

Applications are evaluated according to the "Review Criteria" for their category. After processing by Arts Endowment staff, applications are reviewed by advisory panelists.

The Regional Partnership Agreements Panel (separate from that reviewing SAA applications) reviews the RAO applications. It is comprised of regional arts organization leaders and other experienced civic and governmental leaders including at least one knowledgeable layperson. This panel's deliberations are supplemented by recommendations from specialists in the folk & traditional arts as appropriate.

Panel membership changes regularly. The panel arrives at recommendations, scores to be used in apportioning funds, and comments that go back to applicants. 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 Council’s recommendations and makes the final decision on all grant awards. Applicants are then notified of funding decisions.

Applicants are welcome to attend meetings of the National Council on the Arts and open advisory panel meetings.

Contact the State & Regional staff (Laura Scanlan at scanlanl@arts.gov or 202/682-5583, or Andi Mathis at mathisa@arts.gov or 202/682-5430) if you have questions about the review process.

NOTE: All recommended applications undergo a review to evaluate risk posed by the applicant prior to making a federal award. This may include past performance on grants, meeting reporting deadlines, compliance with terms and conditions, audit findings, etc.