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Research: Art Works Grants

Grants to USA Nonprofits, Agencies, and IHEs
for Research on the Role of Arts in American Life

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Funding Source:

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National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)

Conf. Date:


Deadline Date:

10/17/17 11:59 PM ET


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Grants to USA nonprofits, government agencies, tribes, and IHEs to conduct research addressing the impact and value of the arts for American life. Applicants are advised that the required online registration may take two weeks to complete. Studies may address the individual components of the nation’s arts ecology, or the interaction of multiple components with each other and other domains of American life.

In September 2012, the National Endowment for the Arts' (NEA) Office of Research & Analysis published a five-year research agenda, supported by a system map and measurement model. Titled How Art Works, the report offers a framework for studying research topics critical to a broader public understanding of the arts' value and/or impact for individuals and communities.

In December 2016, the NEA’s research office updated its five-year agenda for 2017-2021, which reflects a tighter focus on Arts Participation and Arts/Cultural Assets as essential research topics. Arts Participation, in the new agenda, remains inclusive of various modes of participation and specific arts activities. These modes are: attending arts events; reading literature; creating or performing art; consuming art via electronic media; and learning in the arts. Arts/Cultural Assets denotes artists and arts workers, arts venues and platforms, and arts organizations and industries.

The NEA is interested in research seeking to identify and to examine:
-Factors that enhance or inhibit Arts Participation or Arts/Cultural Assets;
-Detailed characteristics of Arts Participation or Arts Cultural/Assets, and their interrelationships;
-Individual-level outcomes of Arts Participation, including those corresponding with the following domains: social and emotional well-being; creativity, cognition, and learning; physiological processes of health and healing; and
-Societal or community-level outcomes, including those corresponding with the following domains: civic and corporate innovation; attraction for neighborhoods and businesses; and national and/or state-level economic growth.

Both the 2012 How Art Works report and the 2017-2021 agenda offer guidance on the types of study questions and topics that continue to appeal to the NEA’s long-term research goals.

Regarding the types of studies to be undertaken, funds will be given for projects that involve analyses of primary and/or secondary data. Primary data collection is an allowable activity under these grants, as long as a proposed project also includes analysis of that data. NEA will not fund projects that focus exclusively on data acquisition. Projects may include, but are not limited to, primary and/or secondary data analyses; economic impact studies; organizational research; psychological and physical health-related or therapeutic studies that take place in clinical or non-clinical settings; education studies in a variety of contexts (e.g., classrooms, informal venues, distance learning, or home-school environments); third-party evaluations of an arts program's effectiveness and impact; and statistically-driven meta-analyses of existing research so as to provide a fresh understanding of the value and/or impact of the arts. NEA also is interested in translational research that moves scientific evidence toward the development, testing, and standardization of new arts-related programs, practices, models, or tools that can be used easily by other practitioners and researchers.

Data Sources and Samples:

Applicants may propose projects that focus on quantitative, qualitative, and/or mixed-method approaches using data gleaned from primary or secondary sources. These may include but are not limited to, surveys, censuses, biological or medical experiments, observations, interviews, focus groups, social media, administrative data, and transactional/financial data. Other examples of data sources include archived materials such as written documents, audio/video recordings, or photographs and images.

NEA welcomes the use of data in both the public and private domain, including commercial and/or administrative data sources.

Track One - Value and Impact:

Some of the most compelling research about the arts has originated in non-arts specialties: labor economics, for example, with its lessons about the arts' impact on national and local productivity; cognitive neuroscience, with its discoveries about the arts' role in shaping human development and learning-related outcomes; urban planning work that seeks to understand the arts as a marker of community vitality; and psychological or physical health-related or therapeutic studies that posit the arts' relationship to individual well-being. NEA encourages applications from diverse research fields (e.g., economics, psychology, education, sociology, medicine and health, communications, and urban and regional planning) in addition to projects that address a diverse array of topics concerning the value and/or impact of the arts.

For this Track, priority will be given to projects that present theory-driven and evidence-based research questions and methodologies that will yield important information about the value and/or impact of the arts on individuals and communities, and/or that use novel and promising research approaches, such as rigorous analyses of organizational or social networks and/or social media data. Projects with a primary focus on experimental/quasi-experimental design methods should not apply under this Track and should apply to Track Two.

Track Two - Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Designs:

Despite compelling research conclusions from studies such as The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth (National Endowment for the Arts, 2012), there is a lack of findings about the causal relationship between the arts and short- or long-term individual or community benefits. Particularly in assessing the effects of a program, policy, or practice (referred to here as an "intervention"), more rigorous methods are needed to isolate—to the greatest extent possible—the impacts of the intervention from those associated with other influences (e.g., geographic or temporal factors, or pre-existing differences between participants and non-participants). For questions about causality, experimental approaches such as randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are generally preferred. When experimental approaches are not feasible, high-quality, quasi-experimental design studies offer an attractive alternative.

NEA encourages applications from diverse research fields (e.g., economics, psychology, education, sociology, medicine and health, communications, and urban and regional planning) and that use experimental or quasi-experimental design methods to test the impact that the arts can have on a variety of possible outcomes.

Experimental designs, or RCTs, include study participants who are assigned randomly to form two or more groups that are differentiated by whether or not they receive the arts intervention under study. Such projects may include between-subject designs, within-subject designs, waitlist-controls, repeated measures, and/or other design characteristics. The studies may employ assignment or analysis at the individual or cluster level (e.g., examining groups of individuals, such as within a school, a therapy group, or a broader community).

Random assignment also may include blocking the sample into groups before random assignment, random subsampling, using groups with different populations, or using groups of different size. At the time the sample is identified (and before the intervention), the groups should be similar, on average, on both observable and unobservable characteristics. These types of research designs incorporate robust statistical controls, and may include mixed-method studies that pair qualitative and quantitative methods. Experimental designs allow any subsequent (i.e., post-intervention) differences in outcomes between the intervention and comparison groups to be attributed solely to the intervention.

A quasi-experimental design compares outcomes for individuals or clusters who had access to the intervention with those who did not but were similar on observable characteristics. Importantly, quasi-experimental design studies, while rigorous, are less able to determine causation, since even with equivalence on observable characteristics, there may be differences in unobservable characteristics that could introduce bias into an estimate of the effect of the intervention.

More information on experimental and quasi-experimental design studies can be found in a number of federal resources, such as the Department of Education's What Works Clearinghouse's Handbook and the Clearinghouse for Labor Evaluation and Research's Causal Evidence Guidelines.

For this Track, priority will be given to projects that present theory-driven and evidence-based research questions and methodologies that will yield important information about the value and/or impact of the arts for individuals or communities.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 175012

Number of Grants:

NEA anticipates awarding up to 20 grants for Track One; and up to 5 grants for Track Two, based on the availability of funding.

Estimated Size of Grant:

-Track One - Value and Impact: Grants will range from $10,000 to $30,000.
-Track Two - Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Designs: Grants will range from $30,000 to $100,000. A

Term of Contract:

Support of a project may start on May 1, 2018, or any time thereafter. Grants generally may cover a period of performance of up to two years, with an exception for projects that include primary data collection as part of the proposed activity. Projects that include primary data collection may request up to three years.


  • City or township governments
  • County governments
  • Independent school districts
  • Native American tribal governments (Federally recognized)
  • Nonprofits having a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, other than institutions of higher education
  • Private institutions of higher education
  • Public and State controlled institutions of higher education
  • See RFP and/or Grant Guidelines for full eligibility
  • Special district governments
  • State governments

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Official applicant organizations must be nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3), U.S. organizations; units of state or local government; or federally recognized tribal communities or tribes. This may include, but is not limited to, colleges and universities.

For projects that involve multiple organizations, one organization that meets the eligibility requirements below must act as the official applicant, submit the application, and assume full responsibility for the grant. Partnering organizations are not required to meet the same eligibility requirements as the official applicant organization.

To be eligible, the official applicant organization must:
-Meet the National Endowment for the Arts' "Legal Requirements," including nonprofit, tax-exempt status at the time of application.
-Have three consecutive years of operating history prior to the application deadline.
-Have submitted acceptable Final Report packages by the due date(s) for all National Endowment for the Arts award(s) previously received.

Organizations that are not eligible to apply as the official applicant organization:

-The designated fifty state and six jurisdictional arts agencies (SAAs) and their regional arts organizations (RAOs). SAAs and RAOs may serve as partners in projects. However, they may not receive National Endowment for the Arts funds (except as provided through their designated grant programs), and SAA/RAO costs may not be included as part of the required match. SAAs and RAOs are eligible to apply through the Partnership Agreements guidelines.

-An organization whose primary purpose is to channel resources (financial, human, or other) to an affiliated organization if the affiliated organization submits its own application. This prohibition applies even if each organization has its own 501(c)(3) status. For example, the "Friends of ABC Museum" may not apply if the ABC Museum applies.

NEA Legal Requirements:

More information about fiscal sponsorship may be found here:

Pre-proposal Conference:

NEA will conduct a live webinar on September 6, 2017, at 3:00 PM Eastern Time featuring an overview presentation followed by a Q&A session.

Please note that the web meeting will be limited to the first 125 attendees; up to 300 can listen on the phone. An archive will be made available shortly after the meeting.

More information about the webinar may be found here:

Pre-Application Information:

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, and can include federally-negotiated indirect costs. You may include in your Project Budget matching funds that are proposed but not yet committed at the time of the application deadline.

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.

Before you apply through for the first time, you must be registered. Registration with takes time; applicants are advised to allow two weeks to complete the registration.

Deadlines have been extended due to Hurricane Harvey:

-Step 1 - Submit SF-424 to October 17, 2017 by 11:59 PM, Eastern Time (new deadline)

-Step 2 - Submit Materials to Applicant Portal: October 20, 2017 at 9:00 AM, Eastern Time, to October 27, 2017 at 11:59 PM, Eastern Time (new)

-Earliest Announcement of Grant Award or Rejection: April 2018

-Earliest Beginning Date for National Endowment for the Arts Period of Performance: August 1, 2018

Application Calendar:

Grant Program Description:

Award Information:

Applicant Eligibility:

How to Prepare and Submit an Application:

Submit the SF-424 to (Instructions):

Submit Materials to Applicant Portal (Instructions):

Other Requirements and Priorities:

Application Review:

Award Administration:

Other Information:


Online Tutorial: Using the Grant Application Form (GAF):

Sample Application Narratives:

Publicly Available Data Sources:

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Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Join the September 6 webinar here:

You can join 15 minutes before the 3:00 PM ET start time using the passcode 870335. You can listen on your computer or dial-in toll free at 1-877-685-5350, passcode: 870335.

Log on to Applicant Portal at:

National Endowment for the Arts
400 7th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20506

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Funding or Pin Number:


URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arizona;   Arkansas;   California;   Colorado;   Connecticut;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Illinois;   Indiana;   Iowa;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Mississippi;   Missouri;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New Mexico;   New York City;   New York;   North Carolina;   North Dakota;   Ohio;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   Pennsylvania;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Tennessee;   Texas;   Utah;   Vermont;   Virginia;   Washington, DC;   Washington;   West Virginia;   Wisconsin;   Wyoming