GRANTS FOR ARTS PROJECTS: Folk & Traditional Arts

The folk and traditional arts embody the expressive culture that grows out of shared activities in everyday life. Rooted in and reflective of the cultural life of a community, folk and traditional arts are constantly evolving, shaped by values and standards of excellence passed from generation to generation, most often within family and community, through demonstration, conversation, and practice. Vital and varied activities may coalesce around a wide range of commonalities, including ethnic heritage, cultural mores, language, religion, occupation, or geographic region. Genres in folk and traditional arts include but are not limited to, music, dance, crafts, foodways, dress/adornment, occupation, ceremony, and oral expression, including stories, poetry, and language.

The artists, cultural organizers, communities, and tribes that maintain, strengthen, and make visible the nation's diverse living cultural traditions contribute to the well-being and resilience of people and communities. There is mounting evidence that intergenerational transmission of knowledge and rich cultural exchanges foster a sense of belonging and social cohesion. This valued approach to arts and culture frequently intersects with non-arts sectors through partnerships and collaborations with state, local, and tribal governments, community and economic development networks, health and human services, immigrant and refugee social services, and youth services organizations, among others.

Through our work, the NEA aims to strengthen a robust folk and traditional arts ecosystem which encompasses national, regional, and local institutional engagement with hyperlocal and source communities, audiences, and artists. These interlocking spheres of influence include rural, urban, and suburban culture workers and administrators of public folklore and public programming, cultural community organizers, artists and culture bearers, practitioners, apprentices, students, and youth, and stewards of archival collections, documentation, and research. The ecosystem's vitality is an essential factor in creating artful lives around our shared experiences. Accordingly, we welcome various project types and encourage those focusing on cultural sustainability and the stewardship and awareness of living cultural traditions.

Applicants may request cost share/matching grants ranging from $10,000 to $100,000.

For information on how to submit an application, see “How to Apply” on the left.

Project Types

Project Types include, but are not limited to:

Cultural Sustainability & Education

  • Projects with the primary purpose to support the transmission of tradition and the strengthening of living traditions (apprenticeship programs, mentorship programs);
  • Workshops/classes offering instruction in various folk and traditional arts to the general public;
  • Programs whose primary focus is the reanimation, fortification, and continuation of traditional lifeways for tribal communities;
  • Folk arts in education programs (folk arts are used to augment regular curriculum);
  • Training for teachers and/or folk and traditional artists and the creation of educational material to incorporate folk arts into the classroom;
  • Publications (both hard copy and digital).

Public Programs

  • Festivals;
  • Concerts, performances, plays, powwows, and symposia;
  • Media projects, including film (production, editing, screening, distribution, curating);
  • Radio and television broadcasts, podcasts, and webcasts;
  • Websites (includes creating, maintaining, and upgrading the sites);
  • Projects that reach broader and more diverse groups through digital or emergent technology, including hybrid (in-person and virtual) programming activities;
  • Exhibits (this includes fieldwork and archival research, construction, touring, catalogs, and ancillary events, such as lectures, concerts, screenings, panel discussions, workshops, and demonstrations);
  • Creation of programs and partnerships that identify, document, and celebrate folklife and cultural heritage of the applicant’s metropolitan area, tribal community, or rural community;
  • Projects incorporating folk and traditional arts to advance the health and well-being of individuals and communities.


  • Ethnographic fieldwork to document folklife, lifeways, and cultural heritage and to identify traditional artists.
  • Research in ethnographic fieldwork archives and collections related to folklife and cultural heritage, such as:
    • Projects that seek to connect communities of practice (local or diasporic) to ethnographic fieldwork collections. Such projects might include opportunities for tradition bearers to visit with archival collections, explore materials, and share findings.
    • Strategies to utilize fieldwork collections to repair ruptured traditions, reanimate endangered languages and traditions, or reintroduce neglected repertoire or practices.
    • Collaborations between archives and cultural communities to identify collections, through crowd-sourcing or regular convenings.

Services to the Field

  • Local, regional, tribal, inter-tribal, and national convenings of cultural practitioners, traditional arts organizations, and public folklorists focused on regional identity, traditions, and resources, or focused on intersecting fields and critical issues, such as:
    • Strategies to address the impact of environmental changes, pandemic crises, and issues of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility relating to cultural heritage practices, communities, and landscapes;
    • Dialogue with fields that intersect with folk and traditional arts, such as public health, agriculture, and ageing;
    • The role of folk and traditional arts in building social cohesion and benefiting the public good;
    • The efficacy of folklife programs within museums;
    • Identification and articulation of best practices in the field of folk and traditional arts, including the development of a universal language for the field.
  • Training and mentorships for folk and traditional artists, folklorists, cultural elders, and folk and traditional arts organizations.
  • Projects that advance or sustain the creative work or careers of people with disabilities through employment, technical assistance, and organization capacity-building.

Competitive Folk & Traditional Arts proposals will address elements as stated in the application review criteria, and:

  • Make a significant impact within local or regional communities and/or within a folk and traditional arts practice;
  • Offer clearly defined support that centers the needs of participating artists and the community, such as space, time, and other resources, when applicable;
  • Have national, regional, or field-wide significance. This includes local projects that have significant impact within communities or are likely to demonstrate best practices;
  • Respond to the opportunities, challenges, and needs of a folk and traditional arts discipline or community practice;
  • Advance or sustain the creative work or careers of people whose opportunities to engage within the field of folk and traditional arts are limited by factors such as geography, race or ethnicity, economics, or disability;
  • Demonstrate alignment with the NEA’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility.

The National Endowment for the Arts provides grants to Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities and organizations for a wide range of arts activities, from traditional to contemporary arts. See here for more information on support for tribal communities.

In some cases, a project that involves folk and traditional arts may be better suited for review in another discipline. Review the Artistic Disciplines page for more information, including guidance on educational projects.

For questions, including help choosing the right discipline, contact NEA staff: Jennie Terman, or 202-682-5678

Compliance Reminders:

The NEA is committed to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility, and fostering mutual respect for the diverse beliefs and values of all individuals and groups. Please note the following:

  • Civil Rights Laws and Policies: As a reminder, in the federal-funding context, a focus on a particular group or demographic may be permissible, but exclusion is not. This extends to hiring practices, artist selection processes, and audience engagement. Your application should make it clear that project activities are not exclusionary. Please review the Assurance of Compliance, as well as NEA Civil Rights guidance on our website, including this archived webinar: Things to Know Before You Apply: Federal Civil Rights and Your Grants Application.
  • Accessibility: Federal regulations require that all NEA-funded projects be accessible to people with disabilities. Individuals with disabilities may be audiences, visitors, artists, performers, teaching artists, students, staff, and volunteers. Funded activities should be held in a physically accessible venue, and program access and effective communication should 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.
  • National Historic Preservation Act and/or the National Environmental Policy Act Review: Recommended projects may be subject to the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and/or the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance review. See more information about NHPA/NEPA review under Award Administration.


Grants for Arts Projects applications will be accepted at two deadlines. All project types (described above) are accepted at both deadlines. Apply at the deadline that most closely fits the schedule of activities or timeline of your proposed project. Generally, an organization is limited to one application per year in the Grants for Arts Projects category.

First Grants for Arts Projects Deadline:

Part 1 - Submit to Grants.govFebruary 15, 2024 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 PortalFebruary 21-28, 2024 at 11:59 p.m., Eastern Time
Earliest Announcement of Grant Award or RejectionNovember 2024
Earliest Start Date for Proposed ProjectJanuary 1, 2025

Second Grants for Arts Projects Deadline:

Part 1 - Submit to Grants.govJuly 11, 2024 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 PortalJuly 16-23, 2024 at 11:59 p.m., Eastern Time
Earliest Announcement of Grant Award or RejectionApril 2025
Earliest Start Date for Proposed ProjectJune 1, 2025