Grant Program Description
Creativity Connects* is an initiative that shows how the arts contribute to the nation’s creative ecosystem, investigates how support systems for the arts are changing, explores how the arts can connect with other sectors that want and utilize creativity, and invests in innovative projects to spark new, collaborative ideas.
A key component of Creativity Connects is a grant opportunity in the Art Works category that supports collaborative, mutually beneficial partnerships between the arts and non-arts sectors, specifically:
- Business and Economic Development
Art Works: Creativity Connects projects mutually benefit both the arts and non-arts sectors by:
- Demonstrating the beneficial contributions of artists and creative work to societal health.
- Supporting the infrastructure for the arts to work in new ways with new sectors.
- Building bridges that create new relationships and constituencies.
- Creating innovative partnership projects to advance common goals.
* Creativity Connects™ is used with permission from Crayola, LLC.
Organizations may apply for any or all phases of a project, from its planning through its implementation.
Projects may include:
- The creation of art works through collaborations that benefit from active participation by both arts and non-arts partners.
- Projects that utilize artistic practice to support the creative needs of non-arts sectors, as well as the arts.
- Projects that explore the intersection of artistic creativity and creativity in non-arts sectors.
- Projects that expand the range of artistic practices, styles, and practitioners.
- Projects that explore employing artists in fields outside of the arts.
- Projects that develop support systems for the arts and non-arts sectors to work together and build relationships.
- Projects that use the arts and the creative process to address complex issues of broad concern.
- Professional development that cultivates creativity in the non-arts sector, integrates business strategies into artist training, or prepares the workforce in both sectors to collaborate in a variety of efforts.
- For cultural tourism and creative placemaking projects, see the other National Endowment for the Arts’ funding categories, including Challenge America and Our Town.
- Collaborations with local government for place-based, community revitalization work must apply under Our Town.
- Projects that address pre-K through 12th grade arts education that align with national or state arts education standards should apply under Arts Education in the Art Works category.
See “We Do Not Fund” for activities and costs not funded by the agency.
Projects funded through Creativity Connects can be found within the “Bright Spots” web page, highlighting successful projects across the country where arts and non-arts collaborators are working to further common goals.
If you are recommended for a grant, your project may be subject to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and/or the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and the National Endowment for the Arts will conduct a review of your project to ensure that it is in compliance NEPA/NHPA.
Some of the common project types that garner a review are:
- A project involving or occurring near a district, site, building, landscape, structure or object that is 50 years old and therefore eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places.
- The commissioning and installation of temporary or permanent outdoor furnishings such as benches or market structures or art such as a sculpture or mural.
- An arts festival in a park.
- Design planning and services for projects that may involve a historic site, structure, or district.
This review and approval process may take up to several months to complete and may delay your project's start date and our ability to make a grant award/our ability to release grant funds.
Note: Federal regulations require that all NEA-funded projects be accessible to people with disabilities. Funded activities must be held in an accessible venue and program access and effective communication must be provided for participants and audience members with disabilities. If your project is recommended for funding, you will be asked to provide information describing how you will make your project physically and programmatically accessible to people with disabilities.
We anticipate awarding a limited number of grants, subject to the availability of funding.
Grant Amounts and Matching Funds
All grants require a nonfederal match of at least 1 to 1. For example, if an organization receives a $20,000 grant, the total eligible project costs must be at least $40,000 and the applicant organization must provide at least $20,000 toward the project from nonfederal sources.
Grants generally will range from $20,000 to $100,000. No grants will be made below $20,000. Grants of $100,000 or more will be made only in rare instances, and only for projects that we determine demonstrate exceptional national or regional significance and impact.
Applicants whose grants are recommended for less than the amount that is requested will have the opportunity to revise the project budget to reflect any necessary changes to the project, based on the recommended funding amount. We reserve the right to limit support of a project to a particular portion(s) or cost(s).
Period of Performance
The National Endowment for the Arts’ support of a project can start no sooner than June 1, 2018. Grants awarded under these guidelines generally may cover a period of performance of up to two years.
Any planning costs that are included as part of the project must be incurred during the established period of performance. No pre-award costs are allowable in the Project Budget. Project costs that are incurred before June 1, 2018, will be removed from the Project Budget.
A grantee may not receive more than one National Endowment for the Arts grant for the same project during the same period of performance.
An organization may submit only one application for an Art Works: Creativity Connects grant.
An organization that submits an application to Art Works: Creativity Connects is still eligible to submit an application to other National Endowment for the Arts funding opportunities including other areas of Art Works, Challenge America, and Our Town. In each case, the request must be for a distinctly different project or a distinctly different phase of the same project, with a different period of performance and costs.
Nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3), U.S. organizations; units of state or local government; or federally recognized tribal communities or tribes may apply. Applicants may be arts organizations, local arts agencies, arts service organizations, local education agencies (school districts), and other organizations that can help advance the goals of the National Endowment for the Arts.
To be eligible, the applicant organization must:
- Meet the National Endowment for the Arts’ "Legal Requirements" including nonprofit, tax-exempt status at the time of application. (All organizations must apply directly on their own behalf. Applications through a fiscal sponsor are not allowed. See more at “Information on Fiscal Sponsors.”)
- Have a three-year history of programming prior to the application deadline.
- Have submitted acceptable Final Report packages by the due date(s) for all National Endowment for the Arts grant(s) previously received.
An organization whose primary purpose is to channel resources (financial, human, or other) to an affiliated organization is not eligible to apply if the affiliated organization submits its own application. This prohibition applies even if each organization has its own 501(c)(3) status. For example, the "Friends of ABC Museum" may not apply if the ABC Museum applies.
All applicants must have a DUNS number (www.dnb.com) and be registered with the System for Award Management (SAM, www.sam.gov) and maintain an active SAM registration until the application process is complete, and should a grant be made, throughout the life of the award.
See "How to Prepare and Submit an Application" for the documentation that is required to demonstrate eligibility.
The designated state and jurisdictional arts agencies (SAAs) and their regional arts organizations (RAOs) are not eligible to apply under the Art Works: Creativity Connects guidelines. SAAs and RAOs may not serve as the required primary partner for Creativity Connects projects. SAAs and RAOs may otherwise collaborate in these projects; however, they may not receive NEA funds (except as provided through their designated grant programs), and SAA/RAO costs may not be included as part of the required match. SAAs and RAOs are eligible to apply through the Partnership Agreements guidelines.
Ineligible applications will not be reviewed.
Strong, committed partnerships are key to the success of Art Works: Creativity Connects projects. By combining efforts and resources, partners will produce project outcomes that would not be possible if organizations worked separately. The arts should be at the core of project development; we recommend artist involvement throughout the planning process.
Art Works: Creativity Connects grants require a partnership between an arts program and an organization from one of the following non-arts sectors:
- Business and Economic Development
The partnership must be confirmed at the time of application. Eligible non-arts partners may include, but are not limited to, small businesses, retail chains, technology firms, universities, hospitals, community centers, and service organizations.
Applicant colleges and universities, and other institutions of higher education, must partner with an organization outside the institution; however, another program or component within the same institution may be involved in the project.
Organizations that are not eligible as a non-arts partner:
- Federal agencies.
- The designated fifty state and six jurisdictional arts agencies (SAAs) and their regional arts organizations (RAOs).
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, works of art, or services that the project will involve, as appropriate.
The artistic merit of the project, which includes the:
- Extent to which the project uses creativity to connect the arts and non-arts sectors.
- Strength of the proposed partnership, including the engagement of and benefits for all partners.
- Potential to demonstrate and advance the value of creativity within the arts and non-arts sectors.
- Potential to provide evidence of learning that can be used widely, be sustained, and/or have national significance.
- Plans for documentation, evaluation, and dissemination of the project results, as appropriate.
- Appropriateness of the proposed performance measurements.
- Ability to carry out the project based on such factors as the appropriateness of the budget, the quality and clarity of the project goals and design, the resources involved, and the qualifications of the project's personnel.
What Happens to Your Application
All applications are reviewed according to the review criteria by an advisory panel comprised of a diverse group of arts experts and other individuals with broad knowledge of the specific types of projects in this funding area. Panel recommendations are forwarded to the National Council on the Arts, which then makes recommendations to the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. The Chairman reviews the Council’s recommendations and makes the final decision on all grant awards. Pending the availability of funding, it is anticipated that applicants will be notified of award or rejection in April 2018.
Due to an anticipated high volume of applications, National Endowment for the Arts staff will not provide individualized review feedback. After applicant notification in April 2018, summarized, collective panelist observations will be posted as a resource.
Additional Reading: The Creativity Connects Initiative
The Creativity Connects research report -- Creativity Connects: Trends and Conditions Affecting U.S. Artists Report -- created for the National Endowment for the Arts by the Center for Cultural Innovation, finds that the population of artists is growing and diversifying. New technologies, economic changes, and other conditions of contemporary life present challenges for artists, but also offer new, exciting possibilities and new potential partners and allies.