ARTIST COMMUNITIES: Art Works
The NEA’s guiding principle is embodied in one sentence: “Art works.”
“Art works” is a noun; the creation of works of art by artists. “Art works” is a verb; art works on and within people to change and inspire them. “Art works” is a statement; arts jobs are real jobs that are part of the real economy.
Art Works encourages and supports the following four outcomes:
- Creation: The creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence,
- Engagement: Public engagement with diverse and excellent art,
- Learning: Lifelong learning in the arts, and
- Livability: The strengthening of communities through the arts.
You will be asked to select the outcome that is most relevant to your project, and you also will be able to select a secondary outcome (note that all Arts Education applicants must choose the Learning outcome as their primary outcome). When making selections, you should identify the outcome(s) that reflect the results expected to be achieved by your project. If you receive a grant, you also will be asked to provide evidence of those results.
- Creation: The portfolio of American art is expanded.Support is available for projects to create art that meets the highest standards of excellence across a diverse spectrum of artistic disciplines and geographic locations. Through the creation of art, these projects are intended to replenish and rejuvenate America’s enduring cultural legacy. Creation activities may include:
- Commissioning, development, and production of new work.
- Design competitions and design or planning projects for new arts or cultural spaces or landscapes.
- Workshops and residencies for artists where the primary purpose is to create new art.
- Opportunities for writers and translators to create or refine their work.
- Projects that employ innovative forms of art-making and design.
You will be asked to address the anticipated results in your application. If you receive a grant, you will be asked to provide evidence of those results at the end of your project. You will need to provide evidence of the new art works created. If the project activities do not lead to the creation of completed works of art within the period of a grant, you may demonstrate progress toward the creation of art by describing the artists’ participation and work accomplished by the end of the grant. Before applying, please review the reporting requirements for Creation.
- Engagement: Americans throughout the nation experience art.Support is available for projects that provide public engagement with artistic excellence across a diverse spectrum of artistic disciplines and geographic locations. These projects should engage the public directly with the arts, providing Americans with new opportunities to have profound and meaningful arts experiences. Engagement activities may include:
- Exhibitions, performances, concerts, and readings.
- Film screenings.
- Touring and outreach activities.
- Restaging of repertory and master works of historical significance.
- Art fairs and festivals.
- Documentation, preservation, and conservation of art work.
- Public programs that raise awareness of cultural heritage.
- Broadcasts on television or radio; video games; mobile apps; live streaming, audio- and video-on-demand, podcasts, MP3 files, or other digital applications.
- Design charrettes.
- Publication, production, and promotion of digital, audio, mobile, or online publications; books; magazines; catalogues; and searchable information databases.
- Services to artists and arts organizations.
- Projects that extend the arts to underserved populations — those whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability.
- Projects that employ innovative forms of art and design delivery.
You will be asked to address the anticipated results in your application. If you receive a grant, you will be asked to provide evidence of those results at the end of your project. You will need to describe the participants’ experiences as well as the composition of the participant group. If the nature of the project does not allow for the documentation of participants’ experiences explicitly, you may document the composition of the participant group and numbers of participants and activities, and describe the activities used to engage the public with art. Before applying, please review the reporting requirements for Engagement.
- Learning: Americans of all ages acquire knowledge or skills in the arts.Support is available for projects that provide Americans of all ages with arts learning opportunities across a diverse spectrum of artistic disciplines and geographic locations. These projects should focus on the acquisition of knowledge or skills in the arts, thereby building public capacity for lifelong participation in the arts. Learning activities may include:
- Lifelong learning activities for children, adults, and intergenerational groups.
- Standards-based arts education activities for pre-K-12 students.
- Informal education programs, workshops, and demonstrations.
- Mentorships and apprenticeship programs.
- Professional development for artists, teaching artists, teachers, and other education providers.
- Assessments and evaluations of arts learning.
- Online courses or training.
- Lectures and symposia.
- Production, publication, and distribution of teachers’/facilitators’ guides.
- Innovative practices in arts learning for Americans of all ages.
You will be asked to address the anticipated results in your application. If you receive a grant, you will be asked to provide evidence of those results at the end of your project. You will need to describe the participants’ learning, the composition of the participant group, and the numbers of participants and activities, as well as the activities used to facilitate the acquisition of knowledge or skills in the arts. If you receive support through the Arts Education discipline for a standards-based project, you will be required to report on additional measurable results, including identifying specific learning outcomes, describing the assessment method, and reporting on the number of participants who demonstrated learning. Before applying, please review the reporting requirements for Learning. In addition to a Final Descriptive Report and Federal Financial Report, Arts Education grantees will be required to submit assessment tools with their Final Report.
- Livability: American communities are strengthened through the arts. Support is available for projects 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 arts can enhance livability by providing new avenues for expression and creativity. Arts- and design-related Livability activities may include:
- The development of plans for cultural and/or creative sector growth.
- The enhancement of public spaces through design or new art works.
- Arts or design activities that are intended to foster community interaction in public spaces.
- Cultural sustainability activities that contribute to community identity and sense of place.
- The inclusion of artists, designers, and/or arts organizations in civic engagement activities and plans and processes to improve community livability and enhance the unique characteristics of a community.
- Innovative community-based partnerships that integrate the arts with livability efforts.
Please note that certain types of Livability activities will require applicants to provide information in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act and/or the National Historic Preservation Act. See here for more information.
The anticipated long-term results for Livability projects are measurable community benefits, such as growth in overall levels of social and civic engagement; arts- or design-focused changes in policies, laws, and/or regulations; job and/or revenue growth for the community; and changes in in-and-out migration patterns. You will be asked to address the anticipated results in your application. If you receive a grant, you will be asked to provide evidence of those results at the end of your project. Given the nature of Livability projects, benefits are likely to emerge over time and may not be fully measureable during the period of a grant. You will need to provide evidence of progress toward achieving improved livability as appropriate to the project. Reporting requirements for Livability are different from — and more extensive than — the reporting requirements for the other outcomes. Before applying, please review the reporting requirements for Livability.
The NEA recognizes that arts and design organizations are often in the forefront of innovation in their work and strongly encourages innovation within the outcomes listed above. Innovative projects are characterized as those that:
- Are likely to prove transformative with the potential for meaningful change, whether in the development or enhancement of new or existing art forms, new approaches to the creation or presentation of art, or new ways of engaging the public with art;
- Are distinctive, offering fresh insights and new value for their fields and/or the public through unconventional solutions; and
- Have the potential to be shared and/or emulated, or are likely to lead to other innovations.
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Partnerships can be valuable to the success of these projects. While not required, applicants are encouraged to consider partnerships among organizations, both in and outside of the arts, as appropriate to their project.
The Arts Endowment also is interested in projects that extend the arts to underserved populations — those whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability. This is achieved in part through the use of Challenge America funds.
Please note: The Art Works category does not fund direct grants to individuals. Direct grants to individuals are offered only in the category of Literature Fellowships.
Project Reporting and Evaluation
We ask all applicants to define what they would like to achieve, how they will assess 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 must submit assessment tools 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 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.
For a random sample of grants involving the presentation of art, selected grantees will be required to conduct surveys of audience members to gauge the nature and extent of audience response to these art experiences. Grantees selected to conduct surveys will receive materials, technical assistance, and up to $1,000 in nonmatching supplemental funding from the NEA. If you are selected, you will be notified of your participation at the time of grant award.
The application deadline for all artist community projects is March 8, 2012. (There is no August deadline.) The earliest beginning date for the Arts Endowment’s period of support is January 1, 2013.
The Art Works category provides support for projects that address the following outcomes (in bold below). You will be asked to indicate the outcome that is most relevant to your project in your application and on the application form (you also will be able to select a secondary outcome).
- Stipends and living accommodations for professional artists where the primary purpose is to create new art.
- The expansion of the pool of artists that encourages the participation of artists from a wide variety of aesthetic viewpoints, ethnic backgrounds, or geographic areas where the primary purpose is to create new art.
- Access to facilities or technology to meet the needs of interdisciplinary or new genre artists where the primary purpose is to create new art.
- Innovative approaches to serving as an incubator for the creation of art.
- Innovative collaborations between artists and those from sectors outside of the arts (e.g., science) to create new art.
- Innovative uses of technology, media, or new models and activities with the surrounding community that provide the public with direct experiences with practicing artists and increase the visibility of the work of artists and the organization.
- Innovative approaches to collaboration with outside organizations and disciplines where the primary purpose is public engagement with art.
- Activities with the surrounding community that provide educational and related activities for children, adults, intergenerational groups, and schools. (If your project is for children and youth, see “Choosing the Right Discipline for Children and Youth Projects” to help you in your discipline selection.)
- Residency exchange programs with artists and artist communities in other countries where the primary purpose is the acquisition of knowledge or skills in the arts.
- The development of artist live/work spaces.
- The enhancement of public spaces through commissioning and/or installation of works created by members of artist communities.
- The engagement of artist communities in plans and processes to improve community livability.
- Community-based partnerships that integrate artist communities with livability efforts.
(Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact staff if they are considering Livability as a primary outcome.)
This category uses the agency’s traditional method of application review. Applications are submitted to the Artist Communities staff and are reviewed by a diverse group of experts in the artist community 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.