Partnership Agreement grants to State Arts Agencies (SAAs) enable the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to make the arts available in more communities than it could through direct grants alone. The SAAs greatly extend the federal reach and impact, translating national leadership into local benefit.

Most of the fifty state and six jurisdictional arts agencies were created in response to the national example and financial incentive provided by the NEA. For more than 45 years our support for SAAs has helped to attract state funding that on a nationwide basis far exceeds the federal support. State government support is vital to the arts in America.

At the core of this federal-state partnership is the planning process that each SAA engages in to identify and examine state priorities. Planning is inclusive and responsive, reflecting the goals and activities determined to be most important to that state.

Goals and Objectives

While providing leadership for their states, the SAAs also work cooperatively with the NEA to achieve common goals and objectives. Partnership Agreement grant funding enables the SAAs to address objectives among those identified at the state level as well as by the NEA, which may include:

  1. Engagement: Increase opportunities for people from all backgrounds to encounter different artists, art forms, and artistic and cultural traditions. Activities may include, but are not limited to:

    • Exhibitions, performances, concerts, and readings
    • Film screenings
    • Radio and television broadcasts, video games, mobile apps, live steaming, on demand audio or video, podcasts, digital audio files, virtual reality, and other digital applications
    • Touring and outreach activities
    • Arts festivals
    • Artist residencies in non-school settings (when the primary purpose is public engagement)
    • Creation, development, or restaging of art works
    • Public programs that spotlight diverse artistic and cultural heritage
    • Publication, production, and promotion of digital, audio, or print publications, catalogues, websites, and searchable databases
    • Projects that address and reduce barriers to the arts for people with disabilities and that celebrate the work of disabled artists
    • Projects that extend the arts to underserved groups/communities.
      • 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, SAAs are asked to specify their own underserved groups/communities. 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.
    • Projects that connect artists and designers with communities
    • Archiving, preservation, and documentation projects, including ethnographic fieldwork and provenance research
    • Folk Arts Partnership: Support for stable, outreach-driven programs that are responsive to a state’s diverse folk & traditional arts heritage, and that can strengthen state support of the folk & traditional arts. States are encouraged to support professional positions in the folk & traditional arts. Programs also may include, but are not limited to, fieldwork to identify and document underserved folk & traditional artists; apprenticeships, mentorships, or folk arts in education programs; and statewide activities that increase public awareness of living cultural heritage.

      For more information about Folk Arts Partnership, visit Additional Information on Folk & Traditional Arts.

  2. Learning: Provide opportunities for people throughout the country to participate in arts education and to increase their knowledge and skills in the arts at all stages of life. Activities may include, but are not limited to:

    • Standards-based arts education activities for pre-K-12 students through long-term, in-depth projects
    • Professional development to improve arts instruction by equipping artists, school superintendents, principals, teachers, and other education providers with the skills and confidence to effectively engage students in high-quality arts learning
    • Assessments and evaluations of arts learning
    • Lifelong learning activities for youth, adults, and intergenerational groups
    • Online courses and training
    • Lectures and symposia
    • Production, publication, and distribution of teachers’/ facilitators' guides
    • Innovative practices in arts learning for Americans of all ages
    • Artist residencies (when the primary purpose is educational)
    • Informal education programs, workshops, and demonstrations
    • Arts learning programs for older adults in community settings, residential settings, and healthcare/long-term care settings
    • Arts learning programs for youth in juvenile justice settings
    • Arts learning programs and approaches that promote full access and participation in the arts for youth and adults with disabilities
    • For more information about Arts Education, visit Additional Information on Arts Education.
  3. International Activities: Provide opportunities for the international exchange of artists and arts and cultural traditions. Activities may include, but are not limited to:

    • Activities promoting the diversity of U.S. artists and artworks for audiences abroad
    • Activities providing U.S. audiences and artists with opportunities to experience international artistry in the U.S.
    • Residency exchange programs with artists and artist communities in other countries
  4. Health & Well-Being: Support arts projects with a focus on advancing the health and well-being of individuals. Activities may include, but are not limited to:

    • Creative arts therapies and/or arts-in-health strategies that seek to assist with healthy aging and healthy childhood and youth development, or with rehabilitation or recovery services, or that address incarcerated populations

  5. Strengthening Communities: Embed the arts in system-wide initiatives that strengthen or heal communities. Activities may include, but are not limited to:

    • Projects in which arts organizations collaborate with cross-sector partners on systems-level community change
    • Partnerships, projects and activities that reach underserved groups/communities and strengthen communities by connecting artists, arts and cultural organizations with projects and partnerships spanning public health, transportation, housing, disaster recovery, healing after trauma, emergency preparedness, and community development, among other sectors
    • Projects that use the arts to protect and revitalize natural, cultural, and economic resources within communities, including cultural and community planning, historic and community preservation projects, and charrettes and design-related activities
    • Creative placemaking projects that use the arts, design, and cultural strategies to achieve positive economic, physical, and social outcomes for communities
    • Projects that use data to inform community members about the state of local arts participation or arts education, to identify and address inequitable areas of service, and/or to inform decision-making for a community
    • Trauma response and recovery efforts within communities
  6. Capacity-Building: Support professional development and technical assistance efforts to develop the capacity of artists, arts professionals, and organizations. Activities may include, but are not limited to:

    • Services to the field, including workshops, conferences, convenings, publications, professional leadership development, technical assistance, or online resources
    • Development of peer-to-peer professional networks of experienced and emerging arts leaders.
    • Training and technical assistance workshops in arts management, professional development and career transitions, grant writing, and board development
    • Projects that include planning, capacity and infrastructure building, and training that supports an organization’s capacity to respond to current events
    • Apprenticeships/mentorships in the arts or arts professions and professional artist training programs (excluding activities in the K-12 education settings but including young artist training programs)
    • Artist residencies (when the primary purpose is to support artist’s development)
    • Emergency preparedness planning for arts organizations and the building of their protective capabilities
  7. Research: Support projects that produce research, statistics, and general information about the arts for the benefit of the arts sector and beyond. Activities may include, but are not limited to:

    • Support for research projects and programs about the value and impact of the arts
    • Support for arts research infrastructure and capacity building
  8. Technology: Invest in the capacity of arts organizations to support tech-centered creative practices and to serve a broader public through digital or emergent technology. Activities may include, but are not limited to:

    • Support for tech-centered creative practices and artist-driven explorations of digital or emergent technology across all artistic disciplines
    • Arts organizations’ capacity building to deliver tech-centered, digital, and hybrid arts and cultural programs to audiences and learners
    • Professional development in tech-centered creative practices
    • Field-building initiatives that develop networks across artistic disciplines and relevant entities for investing in tech-centered creative practices and artist-driven use of digital or emergent technology
    • Sharing of information among peer networks to raise awareness about creative solutions and best practices for using digital technology, including accessibility requirements for websites, virtual programs, and other tech-centered activities