Since its inception in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts has provided leadership to develop and sustain an agenda for arts education. The agency has led efforts to make the arts a part of the core education for all K-12 students and to increase arts education opportunities outside of school settings. The Arts Endowment provides direct grants in arts education, collaborates in federal, state, and public-private partnerships, and conducts research on arts education for the K-12 community and lifelong learners. Many NEA programs combine the presentation of arts with arts education to foster the next generation of artists, audiences and patrons.
NEA Direct Grants
The NEA Art Works supports creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and the strengthening of communities through the arts. Arts Education projects may be in any artistic discipline, but must be standards-based and align with either national or state arts education standards. Projects for short-term arts exposure, arts appreciation, or intergenerational activity should not be submitted under Arts Education; rather, they should be submitted under the appropriate artistic discipline.
Apply for a grant in the Art Works category.
NEA Arts Education Leadership Initiatives
The NEA Education Leaders Institute (ELI) convenes key decision makers to enhance the quality and quantity of arts education at the state level. Each institute gathers teams of school leaders, legislators, policymakers, educators, professional artists, consultants, and scholars from up to five states to discuss a shared arts education challenge and engage in strategic planning to advance arts education in their respective states. Two ELI institutes held in 2008 convened teams from ten states. Administered by the Illinois Arts Council, the program will host two institutes per year, and will reach school leaders from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and special jurisdictions. Find out more at the Illinois Arts Council.
The Arts Education Partnership (AEP), a collaboration between the NEA, the U.S. Department of Education, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA), is a membership organization serving over 100 arts organizations. AEP convenes forums to discuss topics in arts education, publishes research materials supporting the role of arts education in schools, and is a clearinghouse for arts education resource materials. www.aep-arts.org
Established in 1998, the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award is a joint initiative of the NEA, the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH), the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. This annual award recognizes outstanding community arts and humanities after-school programs for at-risk and underserved youth. In the past decade, National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award has distributed more than $1.2 million in federal funding to arts and culture organizations serving children and youth. Learn more about National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award.
The Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention provides additional support to the NEA national initiative Shakespeare in American Communities to provide disadvantaged youth with high-quality theater education opportunities and access to professional productions of works by Shakespeare. More at shakespeareinamericancommunities.org
In partnership with the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA), the NEA supports professional development programs for arts education managers of state arts agencies, including an online network, a research-based communications toolkit, and annual meetings. Find resources at NASAA.
The Arts Endowment provides support for online professional development programs and educational networking opportunities for the State Education Agencies Directors of Arts Education (SEADAE), a professional development community of state department of education representatives for arts education. More at www.seadae.org
Arts Education Research
Launched in September 2008 by the NEA, Improving the Assessment of Student Learning in the Arts is the first nationwide effort to examine current practices in the assessment of K-12 student learning in the arts both in and out of the classroom. Best practices and assessment models in all art forms will also be shared. The program is conducted with the evaluation firm WestEd.
The Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP) is the first national profile of people who train in the arts at the high school or college level. This ongoing, online survey system will collect, track, and disseminate data on alumni, and will help institutions to better understand how students use arts training in their careers and other aspects of their lives. SNAAP is managed by Indiana University (Bloomington), in collaboration with Vanderbilt University’s Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy. Discover more at SNAAAP.
The NEA Office of Research & Analysis has produced landmark research reports that have provoked national debate on issues surrounding the arts and arts education. Recent reports include To Read or Not to Read (2007), which reveals recent declines in youth voluntary reading rates and test scores, exposing trends that have severe consequences for American society. Artists in the Workforce: 1990-2005 is a nationwide look at artists’ employment and education patterns. These and other research reports are available on the NEA Research Publications page.
NEA Arts Education Publications
The NEA offers a range of publications for parents, arts educators, artists, administrators, and policymakers. Visit the NEA Arts Education Publications page for more resources.
NEA National Initiatives and Educational Resources
Poetry Out Loud: National Poetry Recitation Contest is a partnership initiative with the Poetry Foundation that encourages the study of great poetry by offering educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition to high schools across the country. Now in its fourth year of national competition, nearly 300,000 students are participating in the 2008-2009 school year. A teacher’s guide, poetry anthology, and other resources are available to educators at www.poetryoutloud.org.
The Big Read encourages communities to read, discuss, and celebrate one of 26 selections from American and world literature, such as The Great Gatsby and Their Eyes Were Watching God. The program, a partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and Arts Midwest, offers grants and educational resources to support community Big Read projects. To date, the NEA has funded more than 500 Big Read projects in towns and cities across all 50 states. Teacher’s guides for classroom use are available online at www.neabigread.org
Shakespeare in American Communities was launched in 2003 and has become the largest tour of Shakespeare in American history. Since then, 77 professional theater companies have presented more than 4,000 performances at 3,200 schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. More than one million students have seen a live performance, and more than 20 million students have used the free multimedia teacher toolkit, available at www.shakespeareinamericancommunities.org
NEA Jazz in the Schools is an online curriculum designed to help high school teachers and students explore jazz as an indigenous American art form and as a means to understand American history. The units meet lesson objectives and national curriculum standards in five subject areas: U.S. history, social studies, arts education/music, civics and government, and geography. Each unit includes an introductory video, a lesson essay, links to multimedia resources, and a teacher’s guide. www.neajazzintheschools.org.
National Endowment for the Arts · an independent federal agency