ART WORKS: Visual Arts

These are expired guidelines. New guidelines will be posted by the end of December 2014.

The National Endowment for the Arts supports the visual arts -- painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, drawing, craft, etc. -- through grants to organizations that serve the needs of and enhance opportunities for artists and their audiences. The Arts Endowment is committed to advancing and preserving the work of contemporary visual artists that reflects serious and exceptional aesthetic investigation.

Grants in the visual arts support projects undertaken by organizations that encourage individual artistic development, experimentation, and dialogue between artists and the public through exhibitions, residencies, publications, commissions, public art works, conservation, documentation, services to the field, and public programs.


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 or public art.
  • Residencies where the primary purpose is to create new art.
  • Innovative uses of technology or new models in the creation of new work.


  • Exhibitions.
  • Periodicals, publications, or catalogues.

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


  • Exhibitions.
  • Community outreach activities.
  • Technology projects that provide online access to collections, exhibitions, organizational history, and other programming information.
  • Innovative uses of technology to exhibit new work or improve outreach to audiences.
  • Development of digital platforms to disseminate artistic works, information, or resources.
  • Conservation, preservation, restoration.
  • Documentation.
  • Services to the field.


  • Public programs such as lectures and symposia.
  • Presentation of workshops, residencies, and conferences that are designed for artists, curators, critics, scholars, and are open to the general public.
  • 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.)


  • The development of artist live/work spaces.
  • The enhancement of public spaces through commissioning and/or installation of art works.
  • The creation of public spaces such as sculpture parks or gardens to house works of art.
  • Arts exhibitions, festivals, artist residencies, 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 Visual Arts staff and are reviewed by a diverse group of experts in the visual arts 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.


Visual Arts Specialists: Meg Brennan,, or 202/682-5703; Kathleen Dinsmore,, or 202/682-5719