From the typeface on this page to the neighborhood in which you live, every object and place is the result of design. Design surrounds us and has a direct impact on the quality of our lives. The National Endowment for the Arts supports design projects that have a public benefit and advance the field of design. Funding can support various design disciplines including architecture, communications and graphic design, fashion design, historic preservation, industrial and product design, interior design, landscape architecture, inclusive design, rural design, social impact design, and urban design.

Applicants should be aware that we do not fund capital campaigns, construction costs, or the purchase or leasing of sites or structures, although we can support the design process all the way through construction documentation. We also do not fund design thinking projects that are not related to or in service of promoting the arts or design as a field. Museums and visual arts venues presenting a design exhibition or installation should contact staff to determine whether to apply under Design or under Museums or Visual Arts. Contact us if you have further questions.

While we welcome applications for a variety of artistically excellent projects, we encourage projects that address any of the following activities below:

  • Celebrate America’s creativity and/or cultural heritage.
  • Invite a dialogue that fosters a mutual respect for the diverse beliefs and values of all persons and groups.
  • Enrich our humanity by broadening our understanding of ourselves as individuals and as a society.
  • In the spirit of White House Executive Orders that encourage federal agencies to engage with typically underserved constituencies, the National Endowment for the Arts encourages applications from:
    • Historically Black Colleges and Universities,
    • Tribal Colleges and Universities,
    • American Indian and Alaska Native tribes,
    • African American Serving Institutions,
    • Hispanic Serving Institutions,
    • Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, and
    • Organizations that support the independence and lifelong inclusion of people with disabilities.

Cost share/matching grants generally will range from $10,000 to $100,000.

If your project is developed and managed by local government, see the Local Arts Agencies description to help you in your discipline selection.


The application deadline for all projects is February 13, 2020. (Design does not accept applications at the July deadline.)

First Grants for Arts Projects Deadline:

Part 1 - Submit to February 13, 2020 at 11:59 p.m., Eastern Time
Prepare application material so that it’s ready to upload when the Applicant Portal opens
Part 2 - Submit to Applicant Portal February 18-25, 2020 at 11:59 p.m., Eastern Time
Earliest Announcement of Grant Award or Rejection November 2020
Earliest Beginning Date for National Endowment for the Arts Period of Performance January 1, 2021

Note: To allow time to resolve any problems you might encounter, finalize your registration by at least January 22, 2020 and submit to by at least February 4, 2020.

The Design program supports projects across a wide array of design types, in two main areas of work.

Projects that have a public benefit, including:

  • Design competitions.
  • Commissions and production of new work.
  • Exhibitions, tours, publications, or websites that provide new insights about specific designed objects, places, designers, or design history or movements.
  • Historic and community preservation projects that promote awareness of cultural and historic assets, or adaptive reuse of historic properties for cultural and arts uses.
  • Design and community planning for new arts/cultural buildings, districts, neighborhoods, public spaces, landscapes, or housing for artists or designers.
  • Community planning, charrettes, and design-related activities that promote economic and cultural vitality; involve community-based partnerships; foster community interaction; enhance the unique characteristics of a place; and/or assist underserved communities or neighborhoods.
  • Artistically excellent design projects that foster positive social impact, employ inclusive design concepts, or foster collaboration between design and non-arts disciplines.

Projects that advance or support the design field, including:

  • Conferences, symposia, and other gatherings that promote innovation in design practice or design education, or facilitate collaborations between design and non-arts disciplines.
  • Workshops or residencies for designers.
  • Documentation and preservation of historic design work.
  • Design research or collaboration projects that examine current practice, propose design solutions for pressing problems, or advance understanding of the design field.
  • Innovative technology projects or new media projects meant to advance the design field or design theory.
  • Education, mentorship, apprenticeship, and outreach activities that teach design practices to American communities.
  • Education initiatives that prepare designers for careers in the emerging fields of design.
  • Projects that support emerging fields of design.
  • Innovative festivals, tours, or programming that raise awareness of design.

For information on how to apply, see the “To Apply” box on the right.

National Historic Preservation Act and/or the National Environmental Policy Act Review

If you are recommended for a grant, your project may be subject to the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and/or the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the National Endowment for the Arts will conduct a review of your project to ensure that it is in compliance with NHPA/NEPA.

Some of the common project types that garner a NHPA review are:

  • A project involving or occurring near a district, site, building, landscape, structure or object that is 50 years old and therefore potentially eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places (note that in some instances, buildings or structures may be included in or eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places that are less than 50 years old).
  • 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 outdoor arts festival.
  • 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. If you are recommended for an award which may have historic preservation or environmental concerns (NHPA/NEPA), you will be notified and asked to provide additional information. Thorough and complete information for all project activities and locations will expedite the review. The Arts Endowment cannot release an award and/or grant funds until the NHPA/NEPA review is complete.

To learn more about the questions you will need to answer for the review of a project impacted by the National Historic Preservation Act and/or the National Environmental Policy Act, see here.


Federal regulations require that all National Endowment for the Arts-funded projects be accessible to people with disabilities. Funded activities must be held in a physically 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 detailed information describing how you will make your project physically and programmatically accessible to people with disabilities.