RESEARCH GRANTS IN THE ARTS: Frequently Asked Questions

How can I find out when new guidelines are released?
Research Grants in the Arts guidelines are modified every year and generally released on or around August, with a deadline in October. Email to sign up for our distribution list to receive updates for when they are released. You can also sign up via

What is the difference between the Research Grants in the Arts program and the NEA Research Labs program?
Research Grants in the Arts funds research that investigates the value and/or impact of the arts, either as individual components of the U.S. arts ecology or as they interact with each other and/or with other domains of American life. Examples of previous Research Grants in the Arts projects can be found here.

NEA Research Labs funds transdisciplinary research teams, grounded in the social and behavioral sciences, to engage with the NEA's five-year research agenda. NEA Research Labs yield empirical insights about the arts for the benefit of arts and non-arts sectors alike. More detail regarding the requirements of the NEA Research Labs program can be found here.

Beyond the subject matter of the two funding opportunities, there is another distinction. The Arts Endowment uses two types of awards to fund project activities: cooperative agreements and grants. A cooperative agreement is different from a grant in that the Arts Endowment is substantially involved with the awardee in the direction and accomplishment of the program. Both funding mechanisms are subject to Title 2 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 200.

Research Grants in the Arts is a grant program, and NEA Research Labs is a cooperative agreement program. The Arts Endowment will be substantially involved in the direction and accomplishment of NEA Research Labs.

How do I decide whether my project fits under Track One or Track Two?
The key in distinguishing between Track One and Track Two is if you are proposing a study to compare the outcomes of one group who participates in an arts-based program to another group that does not participate in the arts-based program. This type of design would be a Track Two project.

Below are examples of eligible Track Two arts-based intervention groups and non-arts-based control/comparison groups:

  • A painting group compared to a no-intervention group or to a social interaction group.
  • A music group compared to a soccer group.
  • A fiction reading group versus a non-fiction reading group versus a no-reading group.

The following examples do not qualify as eligible projects as all groups are arts-based:

  • A visual arts group compared to a theater arts group.
  • An active music engagement group, such as a singing group or an instrument-playing group, versus a music appreciation or music-listening group.

If you are unclear about whether your groups are distinctly arts versus non-arts, contact Arts Endowment staff at

What if my project is comparing one arts intervention to another arts intervention, which Track do I apply to?
If this project also includes a control/comparison group that does not participate in an arts intervention, applicants should apply to Track Two. If there isn’t a non-arts-based control/comparison group, applicants should apply to Track One.

Would it be possible for someone that is not employed by the official applicant organization to serve as the Principal Investigator/Project Director?
Yes; however, the official applicant organization is the legally binding agent for the application, and thus is agreeing to be responsible for the actions of the principal investigator/project director.

I am a state arts agency (SAA) or a regional arts organization (RAO), and I am interested in applying for an application for a Research Grants in the Arts grant. Can I apply?
No, SAAs and RAOs cannot apply for this opportunity as the authorizing organization, but can apply as the official applicant under the Partnership Agreements category.

I am a SAA or RAO, and I am interested in being a partner on an application for a Research Grants in the Arts grant. Can I serve as a partner?
Yes, SAAs or RAOs may participate as a partner for this opportunity; however, no federal or cost share/matching funds included in the Partnership Agreement can be given to or provided by the SAA or RAO.

Do I need to include citation references in my proposal and if so, where do I put them?
Yes, references should be included in the project narrative of the Grant Application Form.

What method of citation is preferred?
We do not currently have any requirements regarding the style of citation. Common citation formats include but are not limited to APA, AMA, Chicago, and MLA. Do not use footnoting in the text fields of the Grant Application Form, though this is acceptable for any PDF attachments.

Will you contact me if my application is missing anything?
No. Because of the volume of applications, we have a strict approach to incomplete applications. For your application to be considered complete, every item that is required MUST be included in your application package, which must be submitted no later than the application deadline date under which you are applying. Staff will not contact applicants to request missing material, and incomplete applications will be returned to you. Please don't let that happen. Use the "How to Prepare and Submit an Application" section for your category to make sure that you have included every item. Have the completeness and accuracy of your application package double-checked by a responsible staff member who understands the importance of this task. Allow at least six weeks to prepare your application and other supplementary information. And do not wait until the day of the deadline to submit!

If my application is determined to be incomplete, may I add the missing item(s) and resubmit the application?
No. The staff has to check thousands of applications. By the time that an application is identified as incomplete, it will likely be several weeks after the application deadline. An organization cannot add missing items and resubmit the application after the application deadline. We encourage you to double-check your application package against the "How to Prepare and Submit an Application" section to make sure that nothing is missing.

If new or updated information that significantly affects your application becomes available after the deadline, you may send it to the Research Grants in the Arts staff at

One of the proposed research staff is unable to complete the human subjects ethics training and thus cannot supply the required certificate of completion of the training. Is there an alternative to the requirement for this person that would allow him/her to continue as a researcher on the project without the certificate?
We require all researchers involved in human subjects data to demonstrate completion of a federally sponsored human ethics training course. If a particular researcher is unable to provide evidence of this training, then he or she may not collect, process, or analyze data from human subjects as part of the project, but may serve in another research capacity.

Can I get a sample application?
Yes. See the FOIA Reading Room, Frequently Requested Records for information on what is available as sample application material.

How soon after the "Earliest Beginning Date for National Endowment for the Arts Period of Performance" for my deadline does my project have to begin?
Our support can start any time on or after that date.

Can my project start before this date?
No. Proposed project activities for which you're requesting support cannot take place before this date. Ask the National Endowment for the Arts to fund only the portion of your project that will take place after the "Earliest Beginning Date for National Endowment for the Arts Period of Performance." If you include project costs that are incurred before the "Earliest Beginning Date for National Endowment for the Arts Period of Performance" in your Project Budget, they will be removed.

How long can my project last? May I apply for another project during this period?
Research Grants in the Arts generally allows a period of performance of up to three years, depending on the project type and scope. Within the limits of the guidelines, ask for the amount of time that you think is necessary.

If you get close to the end of your grant period and think you need more time, you may request an extension, but approval is not guaranteed.

As long as it meets all other eligibility requirements, an organization may apply for another project (with totally different project costs) the following year even if a National Endowment for the Arts-supported project is still underway. Note that if you do receive an extension on a previous year's project, it may affect your grant period for your new proposed project. Requests for extensions must be submitted through a proper REACH account for the award.

If my application is rejected, can I find out why?
After notification, applicants who have questions may contact the staff responsible for handling their application. Any applicant whose request has not been recommended may ask for an explanation of the basis for rejection. In such instances, we must receive the request no later than 30 days after the official notification.

Can federally recognized tribes apply?
Yes. In keeping with federal policies of Tribal Self Governance and Self-Determination, we may provide support for a project with a primary audience restricted to enrolled members of a federally recognized tribe. Applicants (federally recognized tribal governments, nonprofits situated on federally recognized tribal lands, or other nonprofits whose mission primarily serves federally recognized tribal enrollees) should consult with our staff to verify their eligibility before preparing an application.

Can non-federally recognized tribes apply?
Yes, as long as the applicant is a nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3), U.S. organization. Projects for non-federally recognized tribes and indigenous groups may be supported, but project participation can’t be restricted to only tribal members.

Can Native Hawaiian groups apply?
Yes, as long as the applicant is a nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3), U.S. organization. Projects for Native Hawaiians may be supported, but project participation can’t be restricted to only Native Hawaiians.