Art Works Make a Better Workplace

National Endowment for the Arts Ranked #1 as the Best Place to Work in Government Small Agencies
chairman chu holds an award plaque

Chairman Chu displays the plaque recogizing the NEA as the number 1 best place to work in the federal government for small departments and agencies at the press announcement today at the Partnership for Public Service.

Washington, DC—The arts matter to individuals, to communities, and contributed to making the National Endowment for the Arts the best place to work among small agencies of the federal government. According to the 2016 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government survey produced by the Partnership for Public Service (PPS) and Deloitte, the NEA is ranked #1 among 29 small departments and agencies. The NEA moved up from 11th place in 2015, representing a “most improved” score increase of 16.6 percent. Among the highest rated criteria in the NEA report are “effective leadership: supervisors” and “employee skills: mission match.” Visit the NEA report on the PPS website.

“This year’s rating increase is a testament to the outstanding work of our valued employees and demonstrates the belief that each person at the National Endowment for the Arts, no matter their position, is of equal importance to the organization,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “It is very important to have open and transparent channels of communication, as well as a safe space for new and independent thinking. The ratings tell us that we are on the right track in providing this type of environment for our staff to do its best work.”

The Best Places to Work rankings provide vital information to help federal agencies, The White House, and Congress assess federal employee engagement and provide a roadmap for federal leaders to improve the management of the workforce and employee performance. Announcement of the NEA’s #1 ranking coincides with the release of The NEA: Serving our Nation through the Arts. This video concludes the NEA’s 50th anniversary celebration and joins a motion graphic, About Us, and infographic Your Federal Arts Agency in presenting an overview of the NEA’s work and how it makes a difference for people and communities  nationwide.

The significant increase in the NEA’s employee satisfaction from 2015 to 2016 is due to an agency-wide commitment to newly developed organizational values. In 2014, the entire staff took part in a chairman-led process to develop a set of organizational values that reflected how the agency conducts its work, collaborates to complete that work, and interacts with external customers. Collectively, the NEA identified the following organizational values:

  • Respect - Be thoughtful and kind to others
  • Communication - Be open, transparent, and honest in our communications
  • Celebration - Be forthright in recognizing and honoring the best in each other 
  • Collaborative Leadership - Be a team player, good listener, accountable, and accessible
  • National Legacy - Be proud stewards of our nation's creative legacy and a partner in its creative future 
  • Create & Innovate - Be inspirational and resourceful, always thinking outside of the box

In addition, the NEA’s 50th anniversary and the related initiatives, events, and resources launched between September 2015 and November 2016 served to reinforce to staff the many NEA accomplishments and impact the agency has on the lives of millions of Americans. Anniversary materials include:

  • United States of Arts: Click on any state to watch a video from that state’s arts agency and other contributors to the Tell Us Your Story campaign on why the arts are important. Among the 400 stories is one from Mark Ruffin, program director for jazz at SiriusXM, who talks about how jazz, specifically Miles Davis, saved his life.
  • Timeline: Fifty stories, one for each year, highlight some of the stellar projects and artists the NEA has supported in its first 50 years such as from its second year, 1966 when the NEA supported the Festival of Performing Arts of American Indian.

About the National Endowment for the Arts

Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit to learn more about NEA. 

The Washington Post article, December 15 about the 2016 rankings

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Victoria Hutter,, 202-682-5692