REGIONAL PARTNERSHP AGREEMENT GRANTS: Additional Information on Regional Engagement Program

Artists can play an integral role in communities across the country, such as providing significant economic and social value and enabling everyone to lead artful lives. Developing and sustaining engagement between artists and communities, with a value placed on the creative process, has demonstrable benefits. As such, it is critical that artists are supported with the tools necessary to ensure that all Americans have access to the arts. 

The Regional Engagement Program (REP) recognizes a contemporary evolution of regional arts organizations’ service to the field, through their support for artist-centered engagement, with an emphasis on programs that reach underserved groups/communities and enhance public engagement with the arts. For the purposes of these guidelines, an underserved group/community includes populations whose opportunities to experience the arts have been limited by factors such as geography, economics, race or ethnicity, or disability. Within this broad definition, RAOs are asked to specify their own underserved constituencies. If your organization has determined that there is an underserved group or community, please indicate whether there is any empirical research, studies, or data supporting that determination.

The NEA is committed to supporting equitable opportunities for arts participation and practice for everyone through its partnership agreement with the regional arts organizations. This commitment is reflected in the NEA’s 2022-2026 NEA Strategic Plan. A portion of the funding for each Regional Partnership Agreement grant has historically been used to extend the reach of the arts to underserved groups/communities with rich and dynamic artistic and cultural contributions.

The use of funds to support artist-centered engagement recognizes:

  • The central role of artists in helping everyone live more artful lives
  • The importance of deep and sustained relationships, between communities and arts organizations, and the role of artists in relationship-building
  • The capacity of artists to help strengthen the health, wellbeing, and economic vitality of communities through work at the intersection of arts and other fields (as relevant, and including but not limited to fields such as education, health, transportation, etc.)
  • The crossover between groups defined as “artists”, “arts organizations”, and “community”, and the reciprocal value these groups provide to each other
  • The value in an artist’s creative process, as well as in the presentation of completed work

Support is available for regional programs relevant to this recognition, in ways most applicable to each community and region. Support is available for regional programs that:

  • Increase access to the arts in underserved groups/communities
  • Enhance public engagement with the arts
  • Are based on planning with stakeholders including, but not limited to: artists, arts ensembles, arts organizations, and/or other partners such as state arts agencies, local arts agencies, and other community groups.
  • Examples of such programs include, but are not limited to, touring and presentation, artist residencies, educational programming, professional development, artist professional network and cohort development, and/or the creation of new work by artists.

Please note the following:

  • Programs must be compliant with the NEA General Terms and Conditions for Partnership Agreement grants.
  • Selection processes must base funding decisions on criteria that rely primarily upon artistic excellence and artistic merit.
  • Programming must be accessible to, and engage with, individuals and artists of all abilities, including in-person or virtual elements in compliance with federal law.
  • No more than 20 percent of the NEA Regional Engagement funds may be used to support an RAO's administrative costs. RAOs should determine the number and size of grants for their program, informed by regional planning, community conversations, and programmatic/service history.