National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)
08/09/18 11:59 PM EST
Grants starting at $25,000 to USA and territories nonprofit organizations and government agencies for collaborative arts engagement and cultural planning projects that enhance the quality of life in local communities. Applicants are advised to verify or create the required registrations by July 19. Initial application components are due by August 9.
Grant Program Description:
Our Town is the National Endowment for the Arts’ creative placemaking grants program. Through project-based funding, NEA supports projects that integrate arts, culture, and design activities into efforts that strengthen communities by advancing local economic, physical, and/or social outcomes. Successful Our Town projects ultimately lay the groundwork for systemic changes that sustain the integration of arts, culture, and design into strategies for strengthening communities.
These projects require a partnership between a local government entity and nonprofit organization, one of which must be a cultural organization; and should engage in partnership with other sectors (such as agriculture and food, economic development, education and youth, environment and energy, health, housing, public safety, transportation, and workforce development).
NEA encourages applications for artistically excellent projects that:
-Bring new attention to or elevate key community assets and issues, voices of residents, local history, or cultural infrastructure.
-Inject new or additional energy, resources, activity, people, or enthusiasm into a place, community issue, or local economy.
-Envision new possibilities for a community or place - a new future, a new way of overcoming a challenge, or approaching problem-solving.
-Connect communities, people, places, and economic opportunity via physical spaces or new relationships.
The National Endowment for the Arts plans to support a variety of projects across the country in urban, rural, and tribal communities of all sizes.
Our Town projects must integrate arts, culture, and design activities into efforts that strengthen communities by advancing local economic, physical, and/or social outcomes. Projects may include activities such as:
-Artist residency: A program designed to strategically connect artists with the opportunity to bring their creative skill sets to non-arts institutions, including residencies in government offices, businesses, or other institutions.
-Arts festivals: Public events that gather people, often in public space or otherwise unexpected places, to showcase talent and exchange culture.
-Community co-creation of art: The process of engaging stakeholders to participate or collaborate alongside artists/designers in conceiving, designing, or fabricating a work or works of art.
-Performances: Presentations of a live art work (e.g., music, theater, dance, media).
-Public art: A work of art that is conceived for a particular place or community, with the intention of being broadly accessible, and often involving community members in the process of developing, selecting, or executing the work.
-Temporary public art: A work of art that is conceived for a particular place or community and meant for display over a finite period of time, with the intention of being broadly accessible and often involving community members in developing, selecting, or executing the work.
-Cultural planning: The process of identifying and leveraging a community's cultural resources and decision-making (e.g., creating a cultural plan, or integrating plans and policies around arts and culture as part of a city master planning process).
-Cultural district planning: The process of convening stakeholders to identify a specific geography with unique potential for community and/or economic development based on cultural assets (e.g., through designation, branding, policy, plans, or other means).
-Creative asset mapping: The process of identifying the people, places, physical infrastructure, institutions, and customs that hold meaningful aesthetics, historical, and/or economic value that make a place unique.
-Public art planning: The process of developing community-wide strategies and/or policies that guide and support commissioning, installing, and maintaining works of public art and/or temporary public art.
-Artist/designer-facilitated community planning: Artists/designers leading or partnering in the creative processes of visioning, and for solutions to community issues.
-Design of artist space: Design processes to support the creation of dedicated spaces for artists to live and/or to produce, exhibit, or sell their work.
-Design of cultural facilities: Design processes to support the creation of a dedicated building or space for creating and/or showcasing arts and culture.
-Public space design: The process of designing elements of public infrastructure, or spaces where people congregate (e.g., parks, plazas, landscapes, neighborhoods, districts, infrastructure, and artist-produced elements of streetscapes).
Artist and Creative Industry Support:
-Creative business development: Programs or services that support entrepreneurs and businesses in the creative industries, or help cultivate strong infrastructure for establishing and developing creative businesses.
-Professional artist development: Programs or services that support artists professionally, such as through skill development or accessing markets and capital.
National Environmental Policy Act and/or the National Historic Preservation Act Review:
If you are recommended for a grant and your project may be subject to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and/or the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), the National Endowment for the Arts will conduct a review of your project to ensure that it is in compliance with NEPA/NHPA.
Some of the common project types that garner a NHPA review are:
-A project involving or occurring near a district, site, building, landscape, structure or object that is at least 50 years old or older and therefore included in or eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places (please note that in some instances, buildings or structures may be included in or eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places that are less than 50 years old).
-The commissioning and installation of temporary or permanent outdoor furnishings such as benches or market structures or art such as a sculpture or mural.
-An arts festival in a park.
-Design planning and services for projects that may involve a historic site, structure, or district.
This review and approval process may take up to several months to complete and may delay your project's start date. The results of the review may impact NEA’s ability to make a grant award/our ability to release grant funds. If you are recommended for an award which may have historic preservation or environmental concerns (NHPA/NEPA), you will be notified and asked to provide additional information. Your thorough and complete information for all project activities and locations will expedite the review. The NEA cannot release an award and/or grant funds until the historic preservation and environmental review is complete.
A key to the success of creative placemaking is involving the arts in partnership with committed governmental, nonprofit, and private sector leadership. All applications must demonstrate a partnership that will provide leadership for the project. These partnerships must involve two primary partners, as defined by these guidelines:
1. Nonprofit organization
2. Local government entity
One of these two primary partners must be a cultural (arts or design) organization. The highest ranking official of the local government is required to submit a formal statement of support designating the project as the one of the up to two applications being submitted for the local government. See "How to Prepare and Submit an Application" for more information.
Additional partners are encouraged and may include an appropriate variety of entities such as arts organizations and artists, design professionals and design centers, state level government agencies, foundations, nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, real estate developers, business leaders, community organizations, councils of government, rural or regional planning organizations, transportation agencies, special districts, educational organizations, as well as public and governmental entities; and should engage in partnership with other sectors (such as agriculture and food, economic development, education and youth, environment and energy, health, housing, public safety, transportation, and workforce development).
You may find it helpful to contact your local or regional arts agency as you begin the process of identifying partners within your community.
Through Our Town projects, the National Endowment for the Arts Endowment intends to achieve the following objective: Strengthening Communities: Provide opportunities for the arts to be integrated into the fabric of community life.
Our Town project outcomes may include:
-Economic Change: Economic improvements of individuals, institutions, or the community including local business growth, job creation/labor force participation, professional development/training, prevention of displacement, in-migration, and tourism.
-Physical Change: Physical improvements that occur to the built and natural environment including beautification and/or enhancement of physical environment, new construction, and redevelopment (including arts, culture, and public space).
-Social Change: Improvements to social relationships, civic engagement and community empowerment, and/or amplifying community identity including civic engagement, collective efficacy, social capital, social cohesion, and community attachment.
-Systems Change: Improvements to community capacity to sustain the integration of arts, culture, and design into strategies for advancing local economic, physical, and/or social outcomes including partnerships with other sectors, civic and institutional leadership, replication or scaling of innovative projects, long term funding, training programs, and permanent staff positions.
GrantWatch ID#: 172668
NEA anticipates awarding a limited number of grants, subject to the availability of funding.
Matching grants range from $25,000 to $200,000, with a minimum cost share/match equal to the grant amount.
You must request a grant amount at one of the following levels: $25,000, $50,000, $75,000, $100,000, $150,000, or $200,000. NEA will award very few grants at the $200,000 level; these will be only for projects of significant scale and impact.
Support of a project may start on July 1, 2019, or any time thereafter. A grant period of up to two years is allowed. Allow sufficient time to plan, execute, and close out your project. The two-year period is intended to allow an applicant sufficient time to plan, execute, and close out its project, not to repeat a one-year project for a second year.
Any planning costs that are included as part of the project must be incurred during your established period of performance.
NEA reserve the right to limit our support of a project to a particular phase(s) or cost(s). All costs included in your Project Budget must be expended during your period of performance. Costs associated with other federal funds, whether direct or indirect (e.g., flow down through a state arts agency), can't be included in your Project Budget. Costs incurred before the earliest project start date of July 1, 2019, can't be included in your budget or match.
Place-Based Projects - Applicant Eligibility:
All applications require partnerships that involve at least two primary partners as defined by these guidelines: a nonprofit organization and a local governmental entity. One of the two primary partners must be a cultural (arts or design) organization. Additional partners are encouraged.
One of the two primary partners must act as the official applicant (lead applicant). This lead applicant must meet the eligibility requirements, submit the application, and assume full responsibility for the grant.
Eligible lead applicants are:
-Nonprofit tax-exempt 501(c)(3) U.S. organizations with a documented three-year history of programming.
-Local governments. For the purposes of these guidelines, local governments are defined as counties, parishes, cities, towns, villages, or federally recognized tribal governments. Local arts agencies or other departments, agencies, or entities within an eligible local government may submit the application on behalf of that local government. The following do not qualify as local governments: state level government agencies, other state-designated entities, state higher education institutions, regional governments and entities, quasi-government organizations, regional planning organizations, and business improvement districts.
For U.S. territories, if no local government exists, the territory government can serve as the local government.
To be eligible, the lead applicant organization must:
-Meet the National Endowment for the Arts "Legal Requirements," including nonprofit, tax-exempt status, at the time of application.
-Have submitted acceptable Final Report packages by the due date(s) for all National Endowment for the Arts award(s) previously received.
-Have a commitment to the project from the local government, as demonstrated by the required formal statement of support for the project from the highest ranking official of the local government participating in the project.
Additional partners are encouraged and may include an appropriate variety of entities such as arts organizations and artists, design professionals and design centers, state level government agencies, foundations, nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, real estate developers, business leaders, community organizations, council of governments, rural planning organizations, transportation agencies, special districts, educational organizations, as well as public and governmental entities. Federal agencies cannot be monetary partners.
The designated state and jurisdictional arts agencies (SAAs) and their regional arts organizations (RAOs) may serve as partners, but not primary partners, in projects. National Endowment for the Arts funds can't support any SAA or RAO costs. There is an exception for U.S. territories. The territory's SAA may serve as the local government primary partner. However, all grant funds must be passed on to the other partners.
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. Finalize a new or renew an existing registration at least two weeks before the application deadline. This action should allow you time to resolve any issues that may arise. Failure to comply with these requirements may result in your inability to submit your application. Maintain documentation (with dates) of your efforts to register or renew at least two weeks before the deadline.
Native American, Alaskan Native, and Native Hawaiian Applicants or Projects:
NEA provides support for projects featuring Native American, Alaskan Native, and Native Hawaiian arts across all NEA disciplines.
An organization may submit as a lead applicant two applications to Our Town.
A partnering organization may serve as a partner on as many applications as they like.'
If two applications are submitted from a single lead applicant, local government, or within the same geographic area, the capacity of the lead applicant, local government, or geographic area to carry out and sustain two Our Town projects will be considered in the review of applications.
Each local government -- whether applying as the lead applicant or as the primary partner with a nonprofit organization -- is limited to two applications. The local government must coordinate internally to ensure that only two applications are submitted to the National Endowment for the Arts, rather than multiple applications through its various offices. The submitted applications must be identified as proposing the chosen projects by formal statements of support from the highest ranking official of the local government. If more than two applications are submitted for a government, NEA will ask the highest ranking official to select two applications to move forward.
Other National Endowment for the Arts Funding Opportunities:
You may apply to other National Endowment for the Arts funding opportunities, including Art Works and Challenge America, in addition to Our Town. In each case, the request must be for a distinctly different project, or a distinctly different phase of a project. If you have applied to the NEA in the past and were not recommended for funding, you may apply again to any funding opportunity, including Our Town.
Under these guidelines, funding is not available for:
-Direct grants to individuals. (NEA will encourage applicant organizations to involve individual artists in all possible ways.)
-Awards to individuals or organizations to honor or recognize achievement.
-General operating or seasonal support.
-Cash reserves and endowments.
-Costs for the creation of new organizations.
-Construction, purchase, or renovation of facilities. (Design fees, preparing space for an exhibit, installation or de-installation of art, and community planning are eligible. However, no National Endowment for the Arts or matching funds may be directed to the costs of physical construction or renovation or toward the purchase costs of facilities or land.)
-Commercial (for-profit) enterprises or activities, including concessions, food, T-shirts, or other items for resale.
-Subgranting or regranting, except for state arts agencies, regional arts organizations, or local arts agencies that are designated to operate on behalf of their local governments or are operating units of city or county government. (See more information on subgranting.)
-Costs to bring a project into compliance with federal grant requirements. This includes environmental or historical assessments or reviews and the hiring of individuals to write assessments or reviews or to otherwise comply with the National Environmental Policy Act and/or the National Historic Preservation Act.
-Individual elementary or secondary schools -- charter, private, or public -- directly. Schools may participate as partners in projects for which another eligible organization applies. Local education agencies, school districts, and state and regional education agencies are eligible. If a single school also is a local education agency, as is the case with some charter schools, the school may apply with documentation that supports its status as a local education agency.
-Projects that replace arts instruction provided by an arts specialist.
-Generally, courses in degree-granting institutions.
-Literary publishing that does not focus on contemporary literature and/or writers.
-Generally, publication of books, exhibition of works, or other projects by the applicant organization's board members, faculty, or trustees.
-Exhibitions of, and other projects that primarily involve, single, individually-owned, private collections.
-Projects for which the selection of artists or art works is based upon criteria other than artistic excellence and merit. Examples include festivals, exhibitions, or publications for which no jury/editorial judgment has been applied.
-Expenditures related to compensation to foreign nationals and/or travel to or from foreign countries when those expenditures are not in compliance with regulations issued by the U.S. Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control.
-Project costs supported by any other federal funding. This includes federal funding received either directly from a federal agency (e.g., National Endowment for the Humanities, Housing and Urban Development, National Science Foundation, or an entity that receives federal appropriations such as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting or Amtrak); or indirectly from a pass-through organization such as a state arts agency, regional arts organization, or a grant made to another entity.
-Social activities such as receptions, parties, galas.
-Gifts and prizes, including cash prizes as well as other items (e.g., electronic devices, gift certificates) with monetary value.
-Contributions and donations to other entities.
-General miscellaneous or contingency costs.
-Fines and penalties, bad debt costs, deficit reduction.
-Marketing expenses that are not directly related to the project.
-Audit costs that are not directly related to a single audit (formerly known as an A-133 audit).
-Rental costs for home office workspace owned by individuals or entities affiliated with the applicant organization.
-Visa costs paid to the U.S. government.
-Costs incurred before the beginning or after the completion of the official period of performance.
The following Our Town Guidelines webinars are available:
NEA will conduct a live "How to Apply" webinar on June 20, 2018, at 3:00 p.m., Eastern Time featuring an overview presentation followed by a Q&A session.
Click here to register for the upcoming webinar:
NEA will conduct a live "Tips & Tricks for Success" webinar on June 27, 2018, at 3:00 p.m., Eastern Time featuring an overview presentation followed by a Q&A session.
Click here to register for the upcoming webinar:
Archived will be available here:
Grants cannot exceed 50% of the total cost of the project. All grants require a nonfederal match of at least 1 to 1. These matching funds may be all cash or a combination of cash and in-kind contributions. You may include in your Project Budget matching funds that are proposed but not yet committed at the time of the application deadline.
You are required to use Grants.gov to submit the application.
Before you apply through Grants.gov for the first time, you must be registered. Registration with Grants.gov:
-Is a multi-step process.
-Takes time; allow two weeks.
-Must be completed before you can submit your application.
-Part 1 - Submit SF-424 to Grants.gov: August 9, 2018, 11:59 PM Eastern Time
-Part 2 - Submit Materials to Applicant Portal: August 14-21, 2018, 11:59 PM Eastern Time
-Earliest Announcement of Grant Award or Rejection: April 2019
-Earliest Beginning Date for National Endowment for the Arts Period of Performance: July 1, 2019
Note: To allow time to resolve any problems you might encounter, NEA strongly recommends that you register/renew your Grants.gov/SAM registration by at least July 19, 2018 and submit the SF-424 to Grants.gov by at least July 30, 2018.
Our Town Basics:
How to Apply:
How to Prepare and Submit an Application:
Online Tutorial for Using the Grant Application Form (GAF):
Program Evaluation Resources:
NEAs Historic Preservation Review Process:
Creative Placemaking Resources:
View this opportunity on Grants.gov:
Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.
If you have questions about how to complete your application, please contact the staff at OT@arts.gov with your question or to set up a time to speak to staff. Due to the high volume of interest in Our Town, please allow 24 to 48 hours for staff to return your e-mail or call.
If you have questions about SAM or Grants.gov:
SAM Federal Service Desk:
Call 1-866-606-8220 or see the information posted on the SAM website at SAM User Help.
Grants.gov Contact Center:
Call 1-800-518-4726, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or consult the information posted on the Grants.gov website at Support. The Grants.gov Contact Center is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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