Grant Agency Spotlight: National Endowment for the Arts

In continuing the grant agency spotlight series, we look at the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and its work to give “Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities.”

Agency Spotlight Community Blog Series banner

Why Does NEA Exist?

Browse the NEA website and you will likely notice a two-word credo repeated on almost every page: “Art Works.” Here’s how the bureau of the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities explains the credo:

  • “’Art works’ refers to works of art themselves—the performances, objects, and texts that are the creations of artists.”
  • “’Art works’ represents the ways that art works on individuals and communities to change, confront, challenge, and inspire us; to allow us to imagine and to aspire to something more.”
  • “’Art works’ declares that arts jobs are real jobs that are part of the real economy. Art workers pay taxes, and art contributes to economic growth, neighborhood revitalization, and the livability of American towns and cities.”

This belief that “Art Works” is what informs NEA’s partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector to support “arts learning, affirm and celebrate America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and …promote equal access to the arts in every community across America.”

More specifically, NEA grants support – among other things – artist communities, arts education, dance, design, folk and traditional arts, literature, local arts agencies, media arts, museums, music, opera, presenting and multidisciplinary works, research, state and regional arts organizations, theater and musical theater, and visual arts.


What’s an Example of a Grant Recently Awarded by NEA?

Indiana-based organization South Shore Arts was recently awarded a $10,000 grant to support two grade-school art projects that kick off in October.

These projects will reach over 8,000 students and are based on two children’s books, The Skin You Live In and Waterville, by Michael Tyler and Nick Mantis respectively.

South Shore Arts Executive Director John Cain told the Chicago Tribune that, for one project, “students will create self-portraits with construction paper based on the style used in Tyler’s book.”

“We thought that would be a great program to take into [schools],” he said, because “…it had a strong message about diversity and acceptance.”


How Much Grant Money Has NEA Awarded in Fiscal Year 2017? is the place to go to find spending data on the U.S. Federal Government. As of Sept. 15, NEA has awarded over $125 million in grants in FY2017.

Looking for more information about NEA’s grant programs? Visit the agency’s profile page on