Review Criteria

Applications will be reviewed on the basis of agency-wide criteria of artistic excellence and artistic merit.

The following are considered during the review of all applications under the Research Grants in the Arts category, in both Track One: Value and Impact and Track Two: Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Designs:

Artistic Excellence of the Project:

  • Is the research plan clear? This includes the conceptual framework, research design, sampling techniques, and/or data sources, and the proposed analytical methods, in addition to the relationship of these elements to the proposed research questions.
  • Is there an evidence base for the research plan? This includes evidence that the research plan is informed by a literature review and/or citations of previous work or research (either published or unpublished) that support the conceptual framework and proposed research approach.
  • Is there novelty within the research plan? This includes evidence that the project has a high likelihood to add significant new knowledge to the field of arts-related research. This may include evidence that the study design, methods, and/or data sources have high potential to spur innovations in the field of arts-related research.
  • Are the organization, its partners, and project personnel qualified to execute the research plan? This includes credentials and past accomplishments in conducting research of the type proposed. As appropriate, this also includes active personnel ethics training in human research, and the project’s IRB plans and/or status. 

Artistic Merit of the Project:

  • Does the project have a potential to elevate the public profile of arts-related research in at least one of the following ways:
    • Create novel partnerships, with potential for different fields or sectors to contribute to and benefit from arts-related research.
    • Heighten the relevance and significance of arts-related research to policy and practice, suggesting high potential for generalizability of findings, even for discrete populations or practitioner groups.
  • Does the project include effective strategies, including quality control measures, to document progress and success during the period of performance? This includes any milestones that the organization plans to achieve during the project as well as beyond the life of the grant.
  • Does the project include effective strategies to document and disseminate the project results, products, and data? This includes distribution strategies to make the research findings, products, and data accessible to the public and to other researchers and practitioners, beyond the materials that would be posted to the National Endowment for the Arts’ website. This also may include a record of past accomplishments in publishing or distributing research results, and the data management plan, as appropriate.
  • Have the organization and partners devoted adequate resources to execute this particular project? This includes appropriateness of the budget, other resources, and the degree of involvement by project personnel.

For Track One: Value and Impact, priority will be given to projects that present theory-driven and evidence-based research questions and methodologies that will yield important information about the value and/or impact of the arts on individuals and communities, and/or that use novel and promising research approaches.

For Track Two: Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Designs, priority will be given to projects that present theory-driven and evidence-based research questions and methodologies that will yield important information about the value and/or impact of the arts on individuals and communities. Reminder: This Track is only for projects relying primarily on experimental or quasi-experimental research methods that include at least one arts-based intervention group and at least one non-arts-based control/comparison group. 

In addition, the appropriateness of the project for this grants program and the Track under which the project is reviewed will also be considered.

What Happens to Your Application

After processing by our staff, applications are reviewed, in closed session, by interdisciplinary research and evaluation advisory panelists. Each panel comprises a diverse group of arts-research experts and other individuals, including at least one knowledgeable layperson. Panels are convened remotely. 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. It is anticipated that applicants will be notified of award or rejection in April 2020.

NOTE: All recommended applications undergo 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.