Regional arts organizations (RAOs) were created by state arts leaders, in partnership with the Arts Endowment and the private sector, in order to transcend state boundaries and give the public access to a greater and richer variety of arts experiences. RAOs encourage the development of the arts and support arts programs at the regional level. They respond to the special needs of each region and assist the Arts Endowment and other funders in distributing programs nationally. One of their roles has been to make excellent dance, theater, musical theater, opera, visual arts, media arts, music, and literature presentations available in underserved communities. As private, nonprofit organizations that are supported by the public sector, regional arts organizations are able to attract corporate and foundation contributions and to generate earned income for arts projects.
RAOs are comprised of member state arts agencies. NEA's investment in RAOs supports the RAOs' own activities as well as their programs and services for their state members. Federal support to RAOs complements the support provided by member state arts agencies.
As with the State Partnership grants, the planning process that each RAO engages in is at the core of this program. Planning is inclusive and responsive, reflecting the goals and activities identified as priorities for its region. Evaluating performance in relation to the RAO plan, conducting a cost effective operation, and employing efforts to strengthen and diversify revenue sources are all required of organizations that receive Regional Partnership support. In addition, each RAO is expected to have a clear and realistic mission and extend its resources through partnerships and other means.
The RAOs work cooperatively with the SAAs and the Arts Endowment to achieve common goals and outcomes. With the Arts Endowment's grant making organized around the outcomes below, Partnership Agreement funding enables the RAOs to address priorities identified at the regional level as well as NEA outcomes:
To support elements of a regional arts plan that provide Americans of all ages with arts learning opportunities across a diverse spectrum of artistic disciplines and geographic locations. These activities should focus on the acquisition of knowledge or skills in the arts, thereby building public capacity for lifelong participation in the arts. The NEA anticipates that the RAOs will be able to address this outcome through:
Creation: The portfolio of American art is expanded.
To support elements of a regional arts plan that enhance opportunities for the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence across a diverse spectrum of artistic disciplines and geographic locations. Through the creation of art, America’s enduring cultural legacy is replenished and rejuvenated. The NEA anticipates that the RAOs will be able to address this outcome through support for activities such as the commissioning, development, and production of new work; and artist stipends, workshops, residencies, apprenticeships, and other opportunities for artists to create or refine work.
Engagement: Americans throughout the nation experience art.
To support elements of a regional arts plan that foster public engagement with artistic excellence across a diverse spectrum of artistic disciplines and geographic locations. These activities should engage the public directly with the arts, providing Americans with new opportunities to have profound and meaningful arts experiences. The NEA anticipates that the RAOs will be able to address this outcome through:
The NEA Regional Touring Program, which is designed to give all Americans access to excellence in the performing, literary, and visual arts. Support is available for regional programs that:
- Increase access in underserved communities.
- Increase benefit through complementary educational activities and community partnerships.
- Are based on planning with touring artists and community groups.
- Ensure high quality.
- Encourage diversity.
- Are limited to the presentation of out-of-state* artists and organizations.
- Assist and strengthen a network of arts-presenting organizations in rural and underserved communities.
*Because of the concentration of artists/organizations in California and New York, some exceptions to this policy are allowed for projects in these states. However, it is expected that most of the artists/organizations presented or toured in these states will be from out of state.
No more than 20 percent of the NEA Regional Touring funds that are awarded to any regional organization may be used to support that organization’s administrative costs.
Other elements of a regional arts plan that support presenting, touring, outreach, and other activities, including booking conferences and professional development, designed to enhance public engagement with the arts.
Support for stable, professionally directed programs that are responsive to a region’s diverse folk & traditional arts heritage, and that can strengthen regional support of the folk & traditional arts. Programs may include, but are not limited to, professional positions in support of the folk & traditional arts (positions should be supported independently of the NEA within three years); fieldwork to identify and document underserved folk & traditional artists; apprenticeships, mentorships, or folk arts in education programs; and regional activities that increase public awareness of living cultural heritage. Both RAOs and nonprofit organizations working in cooperation with their RAO are eligible for this type of support.
Learning: Americans of all ages acquire knowledge or skills in the arts.
- Support for lifelong learning activities for youth, adults, and intergenerational groups.
- Support for other activities such as workshops and demonstrations; mentorships and apprenticeship programs; professional development for artists, teaching artists, and other educators; and other arts learning activities.
Livability: American communities are strengthened through the arts.
To support elements of a regional arts plan that provide support for and otherwise encourage activities that incorporate the arts and design into strategies to improve the livability of communities. Livability consists of a variety of factors that contribute to the quality of life in a community such as ample opportunities for social, civic, and cultural participation; education, employment, and safety; sustainability; affordable housing, ease of transportation, and access to public buildings and facilities; and an aesthetically pleasing environment. The NEA anticipates that the RAOs will be able to address this outcome through support for activities that focus on the development of plans for cultural and/or creative sector growth and stability; the enhancement of public spaces through design or new art works; and other arts or design activities intended to foster community interaction in public spaces, enhance the unique characteristics of a community, or otherwise improve community livability.
Understanding: Public knowledge and understanding about the contributions of the arts are enhanced.
To support elements of a regional arts plan that increase public knowledge and understanding of the various ways in which the arts contribute to positive outcomes for individuals and communities within a particular state or region. The NEA anticipates that the RAOs will be able to address this outcome through activities that include: recognition and promotion of artistic achievement; research and communication about the arts' contributions to social, civic, economic, and/or other outcomes; impact analyses of arts and cultural programming; recognition of professional arts workers as a key sector of American industry; efforts by the RAOs to nurture and promote innovation; collaborations with other state, regional, or national entities to explore or enhance the role that the arts can play in their programming; activities promoting cultural diplomacy with other countries; and hosting or sponsorship of related convenings, information exchanges, and reports.
The RAOs are vital partners in the NEA’s ability to gather and promote evidence of the value and impact of arts and culture to the American people. The NEA seeks to fully and accurately capture the myriad ways in which funds provided to RAOs for this purpose result in projects that enhance “public knowledge and understanding about the contributions of the arts.” The NEA will revise data-collection requirements from RAOs so that this information can be tracked regularly, with results that are transparent to all stakeholders -- the NEA, other RAOs, and the American public.
All applicants must submit their applications electronically through Grants.gov, the federal government’s online application system. The Grants.gov system must receive your validated and accepted application no later than 11:59 p.m., Eastern Time, on October 1, 2013. The Grants.gov Contact Center is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Awards will support activities that are scheduled to begin on July 1, 2014, or any time thereafter.
Partnership Award Amounts
Funds will be allotted based on base amounts, and the strength of plans and accomplishments in relation to the review criteria. Funds for activities that strengthen regional support of the folk & traditional arts are awarded competitively and generally range from $20,000 to $45,000.
All awards must be matched at least 1 to 1.
In order to enter into a Partnership Agreement with the National Endowment for the Arts, a regional arts organization must:
- Be authorized by three or more state arts agencies to apply for funds on their behalf.
- Meet the Arts Endowment's "Legal Requirements" at the time of application.
- Maintain sound fiscal and administrative procedures.
- Base program funding decisions on criteria that rely primarily upon artistic excellence and merit.
- Engage member SAAs in planning and program development.
- Have completed a comprehensive and inclusive planning process and compiled a list of responses to recommendations from that process.
- Establish metrics for accomplishing goals and measuring progress in relation to the region's plan.
- Have submitted acceptable Final Report packages by the due date(s) for all Arts Endowment award(s) previously received, and report on funded activities in accordance with the National Standard for Arts Information Exchange.
Regional arts organizations that subgrant must:
- Require their grantees to provide DUNS numbers before a grant can be made.
- In certain instances, report grants of $25,000 or more in federal funds and information about the compensation of executives related to those grants to the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act Subward Reporting System (FSRS).
Eligibility Requirements for Nonprofit Organizations Cooperating with their Regional Arts Organization
Nonprofit organizations working in cooperation with their RAO are eligible for support designed to strengthen regional support of the folk & traditional arts. In order to be eligible, such organizations must:
- Meet the Arts Endowment's "Legal Requirements" including nonprofit, tax-exempt status at the time of application.
- Have a three-year history of programming prior to the application deadline.
- Have submitted acceptable Final Report packages by the due date(s) for all Arts Endowment grant(s) previously received.
- Have the support of their RAO for this activity (see "How to Apply" for details).
All applicants must have a DUNS number (www.dnb.com) and be registered with the System for Award Management (SAM, www.sam.gov) and maintain an active SAM registration until the application process is complete, and should a grant be made, throughout the life of the award.
Requirements Concerning State Membership
For the purposes of this category, a state arts agency may participate in a regional arts organization of which it is not a member. However, a state arts agency may not designate more than one regional organization to receive funds on its behalf.
Any shift of a state from one regional organization to another or any proposal for a state to affiliate with or leave a regional organization must be preceded by at least one full year of planning by all of the agencies involved and the Arts Endowment