OUR TOWN: Eligibility

All applications require partnerships that involve at least two primary partners as defined by these guidelines: a nonprofit organization and a local governmental entity. One of the two primary partners must be a cultural (arts or design) organization. Additional partners are encouraged.

One of the two primary partners must act as the official applicant (lead applicant). This lead applicant must meet the eligibility requirements, submit the application, and assume full responsibility for the grant.

Eligible lead applicants are:

  • Nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) U.S. organizations with a documented completed three-year history of programming. For the purpose of defining eligibility, "three-year history" refers to when an organization began its programming and not when it incorporated or received nonprofit, tax-exempt status. Programming is not required to have taken place during consecutive years. Organizations that previously operated as a program of another institution may include programming it carried out while part of that institution for its three-year history.
  • Local governments. For the purposes of these guidelines, local governments are defined as counties, parishes, cities, towns, villages, or federally recognized tribal governments. Local arts agencies or other departments, agencies, or entities within an eligible local government may submit the application on behalf of that local government. The following do not qualify as local governments: state level government agencies, other state-designated entities, state higher education institutions, regional governments and entities, quasi-government organizations, regional planning organizations, city council or aldermen offices, and business improvement districts.

For U.S. territories, if no local government exists, the territory government can serve as the local government.

To be eligible, the lead applicant organization must:

  • Meet the NEA’s "Legal Requirements," including nonprofit, tax-exempt status, at the time of application. (All organizations must apply directly on their own behalf. Applications through a fiscal sponsor/agent are not allowed. See more information on fiscal sponsors/agents.)
  • Have a commitment to the project from the local government, as demonstrated by the required formal statement of support for the project from the highest ranking official of the local government participating in the project.

Eligible organizations that received American Rescue Plan (ARP) or CARES Act funding may apply to this program as long as there are no overlapping costs during the same grant period.

Additional partners are encouraged and may include an appropriate variety of entities such as arts organizations and artists, design professionals and design centers, state level government agencies, foundations, nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, real estate developers, business leaders, community organizations, council of governments, rural planning organizations, transportation agencies, special districts, educational organizations, as well as public and governmental entities. Federal agencies cannot be monetary partners.

The designated state and jurisdictional arts agencies (SAAs) and their regional arts organizations (RAOs) may serve as partners, but not primary partners, in projects. NEA funds cannot support any SAA or RAO costs. There is an exception for U.S. territories. The territory's SAA may serve as the local government primary partner. However, all grant funds must be passed on to the other partners.

All applicants must have a Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) assigned by the System for Award Management (SAM, www.sam.gov), be registered with SAM, and maintain an active SAM registration until the application process is complete, and should a grant be made, throughout the life of the award. Partner organizations are not required to have a SAM registration or UEI.

Native American, Alaskan Native, and Native Hawaiian Applicants or Projects

We provide support for projects featuring Native American, Alaskan Native, and Native Hawaiian arts across all NEA disciplines. (See more information here.)

Late, ineligible, and incomplete applications will not be reviewed.

Application Restrictions

An organization may submit as a lead applicant two applications to Our Town.

A partnering organization may serve as a partner on as many applications as they like.

If more than one application is submitted from a single lead applicant, local government, or within the same geographic area, the capacity of the lead applicant, local government, or geographic area to carry out and sustain multiple Our Town projects will be considered in the review of applications.

Other NEA Funding Opportunities

You may apply to other NEA Fiscal Year 2023 funding opportunities, including Grants for Arts Projects in addition to Our Town. If you submit applications to other opportunities, each request must be for a distinctly different project, or a distinctly different phase of a project.

If you have other NEA awards with activities and/or periods of performance that will overlap with you proposed Our Town project, contact Our Town staff for guidance to ensure that the projects are different or for a distinctly different phase of a project

If you have applied to the NEA in the past and were not recommended for funding, you may apply again to any funding opportunity, including Our Town.