A New Research Agenda for the National Endowment for the Arts: FY 2017‐2021

This document sets forth a five‐year research agenda for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The agenda has three purposes. First, and most characteristically, social scientific and behavioral research about the arts—as with any sustained research endeavor—requires the systematic pursuit of topics and techniques so that, ideally, each investment builds on prior work while advancing fresh lines of inquiry. Second, an agenda can speak to other researchers and arts funders and practitioners who may wish to join the NEA directly or indirectly in pursuing an agenda item. Third, for internal and external stakeholders alike, the agenda permits regular progress reviews, to determine that milestones have been met, or whether new information suggests a need to change course on a particular project.

In preparing this agenda, the NEA’s Office of Research & Analysis (ORA) surveyed recent accomplishments in U.S cultural policy research as well as knowledge gaps identified by the research literature or from consultations within and outside the agency. The agenda itself is a crucial element of ORA’s 2017‐2021 strategic plan, which designates a series of goals and objectives for the office’s work in research and evaluation.