National Endowment for the Arts and State Arts Agencies: Bringing the Arts to the People

2017, Number 2

Cover of NEA Arts No 2 2017
About this issue: 

The reach of the National Endowment for the Arts is truly national—we directly fund projects in every state, investing in communities large and small, urban and rural, coastal and land-locked. To extend our impact, 40 percent of all NEA grantmaking funds go directly to state arts agencies (SAAs) and regional arts organizations. States must match the NEA funding they receive, significantly increasing the available amount they have to distribute to exceptional nonprofit arts organizations and programs throughout their state. More than 4,500 communities have been served each year by our state and regional partners with the support of NEA funding.

This collaboration extends beyond grantmaking however. The national poetry recitation contest Poetry Out Loud, for example, is an initiative of the NEA in partnership with the Poetry Foundation, and relies on our partners at state arts agencies to conduct outreach to schools and educators. Another important NEA initiative—in partnership with the U.S. Departments of Defense and Veteran Affairs—is Creative Forces: NEA Military Healing Arts Network. For Creative Forces, SAAs are helping build a support network of state, regional, and local partners that provide community-based arts activities for military and veteran families in states where military medical sites are operating.

Another area of our collaboration involves arts organizations receiving funding from both the NEA and SAAs. Not only does this give organizations a strong financial foundation with which to serve their constituents, but it provides a stamp of approval that enables them to leverage additional funding. In this issue of NEA Arts, we’ll look at this last piece of our partnership through the lens of six organizations. As you read through this issue, we hope you’ll see how the arts in this country thrive thanks to multiple layers of support—at the federal level, the state level, the regional and local levels, and through private investment as well. All of these funding mechanisms are critical for the arts to prosper in communities nationwide. 

As Chairman Jane Chu has noted, “The essence of the community—its spirit, its energy, its vitality—can be found in its art.”

Cover Credit: 

A youth works the potter’s wheel during summer camp at the Racine Art Museum in Racine, Wisconsin. The museum has been strongly supported by both the National Endowment for the Arts and the Wisconsin Arts Board. Photo courtesy of Racine Art Museum

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