ART WORKS Guidelines: Application Review

Applications will be reviewed on the basis of the following criteria:

The artistic excellence of the project, which includes the:

  • Quality of the artists, arts organizations, arts education providers, works of art, or services that the project will involve, as appropriate.
  • Artistic significance of the project.

The artistic merit of the project, which includes the:

  • Potential to:
    • Celebrate America’s creativity and cultural heritage,
    • Invite mutual respect for differing beliefs and values, or
    • Enrich humanity.
  • Importance of the project to the artistic field, artists, audience, community, and/or constituency.
  • Appropriateness of the project to the organization's mission, audience, community, and/or constituency.
  • Appropriateness of any proposed performance measurements. This includes, where relevant, measures to assess student and/or teacher learning in arts education.
  • Plans for documentation and dissemination of the project results, as appropriate.
  • Ability to carry out the project based on such factors as the appropriateness of the budget (including evidence of direct payment to artists), the quality and clarity of the project goals and design, the resources involved, and the qualifications of the project's personnel.
  • Where appropriate, potential to reach underserved populations such as those whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited.
  • Where appropriate, potential to honor the 2020 centennial of women’s voting rights in the United States (aka the Women’s Suffrage Centennial).
  • Where appropriate, potential to engage with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs); Hispanic or Latino organizations; or the Native American, Alaskan Native, and Native Hawaiian arts.

What Happens to Your Application

Applications are evaluated according to the "Review Criteria" for their category.

After processing by our staff, applications are reviewed, in closed session, by advisory panelists. Each panel comprises a diverse group of arts experts and other individuals, including at least one knowledgeable layperson, with broad knowledge in the areas under review. Panels are convened remotely by discipline. Panel membership changes regularly. The panel recommends the projects to be supported, and the staff reconciles panel recommendations with the funds that are available. These recommendations are forwarded to the National Council on the Arts, where they are reviewed in open session.

The Council makes recommendations to the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Chairman reviews the recommendations for grants in all funding categories and makes the final decision on all grant awards. Applicants are then notified of funding decisions.

NOTE: All recommended applications undergo a review to evaluate risk posed by the applicant prior to making a federal award. This may include past performance on grants, meeting reporting deadlines, compliance with terms and conditions, audit findings, etc.

After notification, applicants with questions may contact the staff. Any applicant whose request has not been recommended may ask for an explanation of the basis for denial. In such instances, the National Endowment for the Arts must be contacted no later than 30 calendar days after the official notification.

See the "Application Calendar" for information on when we expect to announce grant awards and rejections, and the earliest dates by which projects may begin.