OUR TOWN Award Administration

Award Notices

Grant decisions for the Our Town category are expected to be announced in April 2024.

Note that the announcement is likely to take the form of a preliminary congratulatory note with a tentative funding amount and a request for project/budget revisions, or a rejection notification. The official grant award notification (i.e., a notice of action authorized by the NEA Office of Grants Management) is the only legal and valid confirmation of award. Receipt of your official award notification can take several months depending on a number of factors such as reviewing changes to the project budget, the number of awards to be processed, whether the agency has its appropriation from Congress, etc.

Final Reporting

Before a grant is awarded, organizations must have submitted acceptable Final Report packages by the due date(s) for all NEA grant(s) previously received.

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 NEA 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 at or near a place that is 50 years old or older, and therefore potentially eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. This includes a property, such as a historic house museum or a historic plaza; or a historic district with multiple historic properties. Historic places may also be structures, such as bridges, or objects, such as sculptures, or a landscape that is historically significant. 
  • The commissioning and installation of temporary or permanent outdoor installations, including sculptures, statuary, banners, mixed media, painting or murals.
  • An outdoor arts festival.
  • Permanent wayfinding signs and other similar artistic directional installations,
  • Maintenance or rehabilitation of landscapes and gardens.
  • In-kind replacement or repairs at a facility that is older than 50 years of age.
  • Design services and planning for projects that may affect historic properties.

This review and approval process take time 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.

To expedite the review, ensure that you include thorough and complete information for all project activities and locations. The NEA cannot release an award and/or grant funds until the NHPA/NEPA review is complete.  If asked for additional information for a review, please indicate the timeline for determining grant activities and locations, if they are not yet finalized. In some cases, such as for permanent art installations at historic properties or advanced design (more advanced than early design development) affecting historic properties, you may be instructed to continue the review with the appropriate State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).

The NHPA/NEPA Questionnaire is the form you will need to complete for the NEA to conduct the review of a project impacted by the National Historic Preservation Act and/or the National Environmental Policy Act.


Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and NEA’s implementing regulation 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 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:

  • Buildings and facilities (including projects held in historic facilities) should be physically accessible. The following are some examples, but are not an exhaustive list: 
    • Ground-level/no-step entry, ramped access, and/or elevators to project facilities and outdoor spaces;
    • Wheelchair-accessible box office, stage/backstage, meeting, and dressing rooms;
    • Wheelchair-accessible restrooms and water fountains;
    • Directional signage for accessible entrances, restrooms, and other facilities; and
    • Accessible workspaces for employees.
  • The programmatic offering should be accessible either as part of the funded activity or upon request, where relevant. The following are some examples, but they are not an exhaustive list:
    • Accommodations for performances, tours, virtual streamed events, conferences, and lectures, such as sign language interpretation, real-time captioning, and audio description;
    • Print materials in alternative formats, such as large-print brochures/labels/programs, braille, and electronic/digital formats;
    • Accessible and screen reader-compatible electronic materials, documents, websites, and virtual platforms, and inclusion of alternative text for images;
    • Closed/open captioning and audio/visual description for video, film, television broadcasts, and virtual events;
    • Auxiliary aids and devices, such as assistive listening devices.

See the Nondiscrimination Statutes in our “Assurance of Compliance” for additional information.

For technical assistance on how to make your project accessible, contact the Accessibility Office at accessibility@arts.gov, 202-682-5532 Voice; or the Civil Rights Office at civilrights@arts.gov, 202-682-5454 Voice; or see our online Accessibility Resources.

Civil Rights

The Office of Civil Rights at 202-682-5454 or civilrights@arts.gov investigates complaints about compliance with accessibility standards as well as other federal civil rights statutes. For inquiries about limited English proficiency, go to http://www.lep.gov, the FOIA Library, or contact the Office of Civil Rights at 202-682-5454 or civilrights@arts.gov.

Nondiscrimination Policies

Projects may focus on reaching a particular group or demographic (such as race, color or national origin, including limited English proficiency); however, they may not be exclusionary under Federal civil rights laws and policies prohibiting discrimination. This extends to hiring practices, artist selection processes, and audience engagement. For additional information, refer to this archived webinar: Things to Know Before You Apply: Federal Civil Rights and Your Grants Application.

Changes in Projects

Applicants must notify the NEA immediately of any significant changes in their project that occur after they have submitted their application. If the project or the organization’s capacity changes significantly before an award is made, the NEA may revise or withdraw the funding recommendation.

Grantees are expected to carry out a project that is consistent with the proposal that was approved for NEA funding. If changes in the project are required, the grantee must submit a request with justification for the change(s) through a proper REACH account for the award for review by the Office of Grants Management. Approval is not guaranteed. Detailed information is included in the NEA’s General Terms & Conditions for grants to organizations.

Project Reporting and Evaluation

We ask all applicants to define what they would like to achieve, how they will evaluate the degree to which it is achieved, and, upon completion of the project, what they have learned from their experiences. Such feedback need not entail large-scale or expensive evaluation efforts. You should do what is feasible and appropriate for your organization and project. When a grant is completed, you must submit a final report and answer questions detailing your accomplishments, who benefited, and the resulting impact of your project as well as list the involvement of key partners, funders, and artists. We recognize that some projects involve risk, and we want to hear about both your successes and failures. Failures can provide valuable learning experiences, and reporting them will have no effect on your ability to receive NEA funds in the future.

Before applying, review the Our Town reporting requirements for the agency’s Final Descriptive Reports. In your application, you will identify the strategies you expect to employ to strengthen your community through the arts. Given the nature of Our Town projects, benefits are likely to emerge over time and may not be fully measurable during the period of a grant. You will need to indicate areas in which your project made progress toward achieving systems change as appropriate to the project.

Crediting Requirement

Grantees must clearly acknowledge support from the NEA in their programs and related promotional material including publications and websites. Additional acknowledgment requirements may be provided later.

Administrative Requirements

As part of this program, Our Town grantees may be required to participate in the technical assistance program at no cost to the grantee while executing their projects at the local level. The Our Town Creative Placemaking Technical Assistance (CPTA) program supports grantees in a variety of ways including learning communities, one-on-one coaching, peer-based learning, webinars, training sessions, toolkit resources, and many other offerings.

Beyond the reporting requirements for all grantees, selected Our Town grantees may be asked to assist in the collection of additional information that can help the NEA determine the degree to which agency objectives were achieved. For example, Our Town grantees may be asked to participate in surveys or interviews, and/or may be asked to assist in publicizing and promoting these data collection efforts. You may be contacted to provide evidence of project accomplishments including, but not limited to, work samples, community action plans, cultural asset studies, programs, reviews, relevant news clippings, and playbills. Remember that you are required to maintain project documentation, including documentation of project expenditures, for three years following submission of your final report.
We may publish grantees’ reports and products on our website. Note that all federal grantmaking agencies retain a royalty-free right to use all or a portion of grantees’ reports and products for federal purposes.

Implementation of Title 2 CFR Part 200 Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards

This guidance from the federal government’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) establishes clarity and consistency of the pre- and post-award requirements applicable to federal grantees. Under the authority listed above, the NEA adopts the OMB Guidance in 2 CFR part 200 under §3255.1 Adoption of 2 CFR Part 200. This part gives regulatory effect to the OMB guidance and supplements the guidance as needed for the NEA.

General Terms & Conditions

Federal and agency requirements that relate to grants awarded by the NEA are highlighted in our General Terms & Conditions (GTC). The GTC incorporates the adoption of 2 CFR Part 200 by reference. The document also explicitly identifies where the NEA has selected options offered in the regulation, such as budget waivers and requirements for use of program income. It also includes agency requirements for cost share/matching funds, reporting requirements, amendment processes, and termination actions. Grantees must review, understand, and comply with these requirements. Failure to do so may result in having a grant terminated and/or returning funds to the National Endowment for the Arts, among other things.

Legal Requirements:

NOTE: This list highlights some of the significant legal requirements that may apply to an applicant or grantee; however, it is not exhaustive.   More information regarding these and other legal requirements may be found at Appendix A of our General Terms & Conditions (GTC) which sets forth the National Policy and Other Legal Requirements, Statutes, and Regulations that Govern Your Award.  Note that there may be other applicable legal requirements that are not listed here.

  1. By law, the NEA may support only those organizations that:

    • Are tax-exempt. Organizations qualifying for this status must meet the following criteria:

      1. No part of net earnings may benefit a private stockholder or individual.
      2. Donations to the organization must be allowable as a charitable contribution under Section 170(c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, as amended.

      For further information, go to the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) website.

      Organizations who have had their IRS status revoked are not eligible for NEA support. It is your responsibility to ensure that your status is current at the time of the application and throughout the life of your award.

    • Compensate all professional performers and related or supporting professional personnel on NEA-supported projects at no less than the prevailing minimum compensation. (This requirement is in accordance with regulations that have been issued by the Secretary of Labor in 29 C.F.R. Part 505.  This part does not provide information on specific compensation levels.)

    • Ensure that no part of any NEA-supported project will be performed or engaged in under working conditions which are unsanitary or hazardous or dangerous to the health and safety of the employees involved.

  2. Some legal requirements apply to every applicant, for example:

    • Compliance with the federal requirements that are outlined in the Assurance of Compliance below.

    • Debarment and Suspension procedures. The applicant must comply with the record keeping and other requirements set forth in Subpart C of 2 CFR 180, as adopted by the NEA in 2 CFR Part 3254. Failure to comply may result in the debarment or suspension of the grantee and the NEA suspending, terminating and/or recovering funds.

    • Federal Debt Status (OMB Circular A-129). Processing of applications will be suspended when applicants are delinquent on federal tax or non-tax debts, including judgment liens against property for a debt to the federal government. An organization's debt status is displayed in the System for Award Management (SAM). New awards will not be made if an applicant is still in debt status as of September 1 of the respective year.

    • Labor Standards (29 CFR. pt 505). If a grant is awarded, the grantee must comply with the standards set out in Labor Standards on Projects or Productions Assisted by Grants from the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities.

    • The Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 (41 U.S.C. 701 et seq. and 2 C.F.R. Part 3256). The grantee is required to publish a statement regarding its drug-free workplace program as well as comply with other requirements.

  3. Some legal requirements apply depending upon what the grant is funding, for example:

    • If your project activities have the potential to impact any structure that is eligible for or on the National Register of Historic Places, adjacent to a structure that is eligible for or on the National Register of Historic Places, or located in an historic district, you will be asked to provide additional information about your project or take additional action so that the agency can review and comply  with the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). NHPA also applies to any planning activities that may affect historic properties or districts. The additional agency review must be completed prior to any agency funds being released.

    • If your project activities have the potential to impact the environment or environmentally sensitive resources, you will be required to provide information in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The additional agency review must be completed prior to any agency funds being released.

    • If a contract that is part of your project is over $2,000. and involves the construction, alteration, or repair of public buildings or public works, it must contain a clause setting forth the minimum wages to be paid to laborers and mechanics employed under the contract in accordance with the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts (DBRA).

  4. Some legal requirements apply depending upon who the Applicant is, for example:

    The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 (25 U.S.C. 3001 et seq.) – which applies to any organization that controls or possesses Native American human remains and associated funerary objects and receives Federal funding, even for a purpose unrelated to the Act (25 USC 3001 et seq.)

Assurance of Compliance

By signing and submitting its application form on Grants.gov, the Applicant certifies that it is in compliance with the statutes outlined below and all related National Endowment for the Arts regulations and will maintain records and submit the reports that are necessary to determine compliance.

We may conduct a review of your organization to ensure that it is in compliance with these statutes. If the NEA determines that a grantee has failed to comply with these statutes, it may suspend or terminate the award, and/or recover funds. This assurance is subject to judicial enforcement.

The Applicant certifies that it does not discriminate:

  • On the grounds of race, color, or national origin, in accordance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended (42 U.S.C. 2000d et seq.), implemented by the National Endowment for the Arts at 45 CFR 1110.
  • Solely on the grounds of disability, in accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, (29 U.S.C. 794), implemented by the National Endowment for the Arts at 45 CFR 1151, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”), as amended, (42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq.).
  • On the basis of age, in accordance with the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, as amended (42 U.S.C. 6101 et seq.), implemented by the National Endowment for the Arts at 45 CFR 1156.
  • On the basis of sex, in any education program or activity, in accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, as amended (20 U.S.C. 1681 et seq.).

The applicant will inform the public that persons who believe they have been discriminated against on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, sex, or age may file a complaint with the Director of Civil Rights at the National Endowment for the Arts.

The applicant will forward all complaints for investigation and any finding issued by a Federal or state court or by a Federal or state administrative agency to:

National Endowment for the Arts, Office of Civil Rights
Email: civilright@arts.gov 

The applicant shall maintain records of its compliance and submission for three (3) years. The Applicant will compile, maintain and permit access to records as required by applicable regulations, guidelines or other directives.

The applicant must also certify that it will obtain assurances of compliance from all subrecipients and will require all subrecipients of National Endowment for the Arts funds to comply with the requirements under the Assurance of Compliance. 

The United States has the right to seek judicial or administrative enforcement of this assurance.

For further information and copies of the nondiscrimination regulations identified above, contact the Office of Civil Rights at 202-682-5454 or civilrights@arts.gov. For inquiries about limited English proficiency, go to http://www.lep.gov, the FOIA Library, or contact the Office of Civil Rights at civilrights@arts.gov or 202-682-5454.

Regulations Relating to Lobbying

For organizations applying for more than $100,000 (31 U.S.C. 1352)
The Applicant certifies that:

  1. It has not and will not use federal appropriated funds to pay any person for influencing or attempting to influence an officer or employee of any agency, a member of a National Endowment for the Arts advisory panel or the National Council on the Arts, a Member of Congress, an officer or employee of Congress, or an employee of a Member of Congress in connection with the awarding of or modification to any federal grant or contract.
  2. If it has used or will use any funds other than federal appropriated funds to pay any person for influencing or attempting to influence any of the individuals specified above, the Applicant:
  3. Is not required to disclose that activity if that person is regularly employed by the Applicant. (Regularly employed means working for at least 130 days within the year immediately preceding the submission of this application.)
  4. Will complete and submit Standard Form-LLL, “Disclosure of Lobbying Activities,” if that person is not regularly employed by the Applicant.

It will require that the language of this certification be included in the award documents for all subawards of more than $100,000 and that all subrecipients shall certify and disclose accordingly.

Standards for Service

We have set the following standards for serving applicants. We pledge to:

  • Treat you with courtesy and efficiency.
  • Respond to inquiries and correspondence promptly.
  • Provide clear and accurate information about our policies and procedures.
  • Provide timely information about funding opportunities and make guidelines available promptly.
  • Promptly acknowledge the receipt of your application.
  • Ensure that all eligible applications are reviewed thoughtfully and fairly.

We welcome your comments on how we're meeting these standards. Email webmgr@arts.gov, attention: Standards for Service.

For questions about these guidelines or your application, contact OT@arts.gov.

In addition, applicants may receive an invitation to participate in a voluntary survey to provide feedback on the grant application guidelines on our website and any experiences consulting with our staff.

Paperwork Reduction Act Statement

The public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated at an average of 26 hours per response including the time for reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the collection of information. We welcome any suggestions that you might have on improving the guidelines and making them as easy to use as possible. Send comments regarding this burden estimate or any other aspect of this collection of information, including suggestions for reducing this burden, to: webmgr@arts.gov, attention: Reporting Burden. Note: Applicants are not required to respond to the collection of information unless it displays a currently valid U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) control number.

OMB No. 3135-0112 Expires 10/31/2025