PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENTS: State Partnership Grant Program Description

By supporting the state arts agencies (SAAs) through Partnership Agreements, the National Endowment for the Arts makes the arts available in more communities than it could through direct grants. The SAAs greatly extend the federal reach and impact, translating national leadership into local benefit.

Most of the fifty state and six jurisdictional arts agencies were created in response to the national example and financial incentive provided by the Arts Endowment. For more than 45 years the Arts Endowment’s support for SAAs has helped to attract state funding that on a nationwide basis far exceeds the federal support. State government support is vital to the arts in America.

At the core of this federal-state partnership is the planning process that each SAA engages in to identify and examine state priorities. Planning is inclusive and responsive, reflecting the goals and activities determined to be most important to that state.

While providing leadership for their states, the SAAs also work cooperatively with 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 SAAs to address priorities identified at the state level as well as the NEA outcomes:

To support elements of a state 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 SAAs will be able to address this outcome through:

  1. Creation: The portfolio of American art is expanded.

    To support elements of a state 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 SAAs 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.

  2. Engagement: Americans throughout the nation experience art.

    To support elements of a state 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 SAAs will be able to address this outcome through:

    • Support for activities such as exhibitions, performances, concerts, and readings; touring and outreach; art fairs and festivals; film screenings; publications; broadcasts and recordings; preservation and conservation projects; design charrettes; audience services; and technical assistance and training to enhance audience participation and engagement.

    • Support for activities that foster the arts in rural, inner-city, and other underserved communities. Funds may assist in the areas of local cultural development, folk & traditional arts programs, emerging and developing arts organizations, rural initiatives, activities involving individuals with disabilities, arts programs for disadvantaged youth, and other programs that extend the arts to underserved populations.

      For the purposes of these guidelines, an underserved community is one in which individuals lack access to arts programs due to geography, economic conditions, ethnic background, or disability. Within this broad definition, SAAs are asked to specify their own underserved constituencies.

    • Support for stable, professionally directed programs that are responsive to a state’s diverse folk & traditional arts heritage, and that can strengthen state 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 statewide activities that increase public awareness of living cultural heritage. Both SAAs and nonprofit organizations working in cooperation with their SAA are eligible for this type of support.

  3. 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 in-depth national or state standards-based arts education activities for youth (generally between ages 5 and 18) in schools or other community-based settings.
    • Support for activities that provide opportunities for youth, educators and community leaders to gain in-depth arts education knowledge and skills in the arts.
    • Support for other activities such as workshops and demonstrations; mentorships and apprenticeship programs; professional development for artists, teaching artists, school and school district leaders, community leaders and other educators; and other arts learning activities.
    • Poetry Out Loud activities.
  4. Livability: American communities are strengthened through the arts.

    To support elements of a state 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 SAAs 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.

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

    To support elements of a state 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 SAAs 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 SAAs 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 SAAs 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 SAAs 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 SAAs so that this information can be tracked regularly, with results that are transparent to all stakeholders -- the NEA, other SAAs, and the American public.

Deadline Dates

All applicants must submit their applications electronically through, the federal government’s online application system. The system must receive your validated and accepted application no later than 11:59 p.m., Eastern Time, on October 1, 2013. The 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.

Award Information

Partnership Award Amounts

Funds will be allotted in accordance with the NEA's legislative mandate, and based on the strength of plans and accomplishments in relation to the review criteria. Funds for activities that strengthen state support of the folk & traditional arts are awarded competitively and generally range from $20,000 to $45,000.

Matching Requirement

All awards must be matched at least 1 to 1.

For those agencies covered by the Economic Development of the Territories Act (American Samoa, Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the Virgin Islands), the matching requirement does not apply to the first $200,000 of NEA funds (48 USC 1469a(d) as amended).  Agencies must request a waiver from the matching requirement for amounts above the first $200,000 of NEA funds.

Applicant Eligibility

Eligibility Requirements for State Arts Agencies

State arts agency Partnership Agreements are limited to the fifty state and six jurisdictional arts agencies. In order to enter into a state arts agency Partnership Agreement and receive federal funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, a state arts agency must comply with the following requirements:


The state arts agency must:

Organizational Entity and Capacity

The state arts agency must:

  • Be domiciled within the State.
  • Be designated by its State government as programmatically and administratively responsible for developing a statewide arts plan and establishing arts and cultural policy having a statewide impact.
  • Be designated as officially responsible for coordinating and administering all financial support received from the NEA and the State in conjunction with the state arts agency Partnership Agreement.
  • Have designated staff with relevant experience; a designated budget; and an independent board, council, or commission whose members serve in an advisory or policy-making capacity.

Financial Support, Matching Funds, and Financial Reporting

The state arts agency must:

  • Be financially supported by its State government.
  • Match NEA Partnership Agreement funds at least 1 to 1.

    Contingent upon approval of language included in the NEA’s FY 2013 appropriations request, the 1 to 1 match must come from state government funds that are directly controlled and appropriated by the state and directly managed by the state arts agency.

  • Use Partnership Agreement funds to supplement and not supplant non-federal funds. (Non-federal funds cannot be replaced with federal funds with the intention or effect of reducing State financial support for the state arts agency.)
  • Have submitted acceptable Final Report packages by the due dates for all NEA awards previously received, and report on funded activities in accordance with the National Standard for Arts Information Exchange.

Planning, Programming, and Evaluation

The state arts agency must have developed a state arts plan that:

  • Results from an inclusive, public process that solicited and represented the perspectives of arts constituencies throughout the State. 
  • Reflects the state arts agency’s operating environment, mission, goals, strategic directions, action plans, recommendations from the public process, and timelines and metrics for both accomplishing goals and measuring progress.
  • Demonstrates the state arts agency’s commitment and its capacity to implement the arts-related programs and services reflected in the plan.
  • Bases program funding decisions on criteria that rely primarily upon artistic excellence and merit.

The state arts agency submits this plan with its Partnership Agreement application.

State arts agencies 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 State Arts Agency

Nonprofit organizations working in cooperation with their SAA are eligible for support designed to strengthen state 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 SAA for this activity (see "How to Apply" for details).

All applicants must have a DUNS number ( and be registered with the System for Award Management (SAM, and maintain an active SAM registration until the application process is complete, and should a grant be made, throughout the life of the award.