Equity Action Plan

Overview

On the first day of the Biden-Harris Administration, President Biden issued Executive Order 13985 on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government. The order outlines a whole-of-government mandate to advance equity for all Americans through a comprehensive approach to all government practices, including management; policymaking (through regulation and guidance); procurement, contracting, and budgeting; delivery of benefits and services; and data collection, reporting, and use, to tangibly improve the lives of every person across the nation, in particular, those who have been underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality.

An overview of NEA's Equity Action Plan for fiscal years (FY) 2022-2026 is outlined below. The completed detailed action plan can be viewed and downloaded here in English and Spanish: Equity Action Plan | Plan de Acción de Equidad.

The NEA is committed to supporting equitable opportunities for arts participation and practice for all Americans in the United States. This commitment is reflected in the NEA’s Equity Action Plan, which is in alignment with the Arts Endowment’s FY 2022-2026 Strategic Plan, in which the cross-cutting objective states, “The NEA will model diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in the arts through all its activities and operations.”

Please direct questions and inquires to artsequity@arts.gov.

Methodology

The NEA established a Racial Equity and Access Working Group that met over the course of a year to develop the Equity Action Plan. Because advancing equity requires a systematic approach to embedding fairness in all decision-making processes, the NEA recognized and will work to redress inequities in our policies and programs to address barriers to equal opportunity. Goals of the equity plan include:

• Address and reduce the gap between availability of arts programming and the participation of underserved groups.

• Expand engagement with underserved communities through webinars and key partner organizations.

• Develop concrete policies and procedures for providing access accommodations for persons with disabilities and limited English proficiency.

• Determine feasibility of expanding demographic data collection related to grant beneficiaries, staff, and leadership of grant recipient organizations.

• Increase awareness of contract and procurement opportunities to HUBZone and other underrepresented groups.

NEA Early Equity Accomplishments

Translation Services: Since January 20, 2021, the NEA has made strides in advancing equity. These efforts came to the forefront with the agency’s administration of the American Rescue Plan (ARP). With this program, in a first for the agency, the NEA's grant application guidelines were translated into Spanish and Chinese. Similarly, technical assistance videos, guideline webinars, and twice-weekly Zoom sessions with Q&A for applicants included captioning and options in Spanish and American Sign Language.

Broad Engagement: In addition, the agency encouraged ARP grant applications from organizations applying to the NEA for the first time. This practice departed from the NEA’s method of administering two earlier stimulus grant programs—ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) and CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act)—which limited eligibility to previous grantees. With ARP, the agency engaged culturally and geographically specific communities so that the broadest possible constituency became aware of the new funding opportunity. As a result of these efforts, 18 percent of the ARP grantees (including the NEA’s programs for subgranting and direct grants) were new applicants to the agency; 27 percent are new grantees to the agency; 28 percent of grantee organizations had annual budgets of $250,000 or less; 20 percent were located in non‐metro areas; 42 percent were in high‐poverty areas; and 70 percent had not received any other type of federal grant in the last ten years.

Increased Awareness: The NEA also uses multiple platforms to amplify the stories and narratives from its grantees and from communities and cultural practices around the country. The NEA's first 2021 issue of American Artscape magazine featured organizations serving Black artists and communities, and profiled the Black artistic experience. The second issue of the magazine in 2021 featured stories of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities. In 2022, the third issue featured Native artists and arts organizations and the fourth issue will feature Hispanic arts organizations and artists.

Minority Serving Institution Engagement: The NEA also has ongoing initiatives to engage historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and Native American communities. In partnership with the White House Initiative for HBCUs, the agency presented at the September 2021 HBCU Week Conference and shared NEA grant opportunities and successful application strategies with attendees. In May 2021, the NEA and the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums (ATALM) co-hosted a five-hour virtual convening of Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian artists and cultural leaders. The convening—titled “Sustaining and Advancing Indigenous Cultures: Native Artists Summit”—involved more than 350 indigenous cultural leaders in discussions focused on funding resources and infrastructure for Native artists. The agency also hosted two Tribal Consultation meetings with Native American leaders while developing the agency's first Tribal Consultation Policy, in response to the White House Memorandum on Tribal Consultation and Strengthening Nation-to-Nation Relationships. In addition, the NEA is developing a strategy to engage Hispanic-serving institutions. For the first time, in October 2021, the NEA shared funding opportunities and successful application strategies during the Hispanic colleges and universities conference.

Additional Resources

  • Learn more about the administration’s equity agenda:

    • Visit the Whitehouse.gov Equity Microsite to learn more about the findings from the year-long equity process agencies have engaged in, as well as executive summaries of the equity action plans submitted by the largest federal agencies.
  • Learn more about government-wide equity efforts: