By supporting the state arts agencies (SAAs) through Partnership Agreements, the National Endowment for the Arts makes the arts available in more communities than it could through direct grants. 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 National Endowment for the Arts. 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.

While providing leadership for their states, the SAAs also work cooperatively with the National Endowment for the Arts to achieve common goals and objectives. Partnership Agreement funding enables the SAAs to address objectives identified at the state level as well as by the National Endowment for the Arts such as:

  1. The creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence. Activities may include, but are not limited to: the commissioning, development, and production of new work; and artist stipends, workshops, and residencies.

  2. Public engagement with, and access to, various forms of excellent art across the nation. Activities may include, but are not limited to:

    • Support for exhibitions, performances, and readings; touring and outreach; art fairs and festivals; film screenings, broadcasts, and recordings; preservation and conservation projects; and technical assistance to enhance audience engagement.

    • Support for activities that foster the arts in rural, inner-city, and other underserved communities. Funds may assist in the areas of local cultural development, emerging and developing arts organizations, rural initiatives, activities involving individuals with disabilities, arts programs for disadvantaged youth, and other programs that extend the arts to underserved populations.

      For the purposes of these guidelines, an underserved community is one in which individuals lack access to arts programs due to geography, economics, ethnicity, or disability. Within this broad definition, SAAs are asked to specify their own underserved constituencies.

      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 support of 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.

      NEW: Previously, both SAAs and nonprofit organizations working in cooperation with their SAA were eligible for Folk Arts Partnership funding on an optional and competitive basis. Beginning in FY 2021, all SAAs will receive support for these types of activities as part of their Partnership Agreement. Those SAAs that do not have the capacity for an in-house Folk Arts Partnership programs are encouraged to partner with nonprofit organizations to undertake this work. Nonprofit organizations are no longer eligible to apply directly for Partnership funding.

      See “Additional Information on Folk & Traditional Arts” LINK for more information.

  3. Learning in the arts at all ages of life. Activities may include, but are not limited to:

    • Support for activities that focus on the acquisition of knowledge or skills in the arts.
    • Support for in-depth national or state standards-based arts education activities for youth (generally between ages 5 and 18) in schools or other community-based settings.
    • Support for other activities such as workshops, mentorships, and apprenticeship programs; and professional development for artists, teaching artists, and other leaders.
    • Poetry Out Loud activities.

      NEW: Poetry Out Loud (POL) will be expanded to Guam and American Samoa beginning with the 2020/2021 school year.

  4. Activities that integrate the arts into the fabric of community life. Activities may include, but are not limited to: projects that focus on the development of plans for cultural and/or creative sector growth and stability; the enhancement of public spaces through design or new art works; and other arts or design activities intended to foster community interaction in public spaces.

  5. Promotion of public knowledge and understanding about the contributions of the arts. Activities may include, but are not limited to: recognition and promotion of artistic achievement; research and communication about the arts' contributions to social, civic, economic, and/or other objectives; impact analyses of arts and cultural programming; recognition of professional arts workers as a key sector of American industry; and collaborations with other state, regional, or national entities to explore or enhance the role that the arts can play in their programming.

Deadline Dates

Applications must be submitted electronically through, the federal government’s online application system. The system must receive your validated and accepted application no later than 11:59 p.m., Eastern Time, on September 30, 2020. The Contact Center is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Awards will support activities that are scheduled to begin on July 1, 2021, or any time thereafter.

By December 1, 2020 on-year applicants have the option of submitting an update (up to one page) on any significant developments affecting the agency subsequent to submitting the application. Updates should focus only on information relevant to application review, such as changes to the organization operating environment, budget, key leadership/staff, strategic planning, and notable accomplishments. Email updates to:

Following the notification of funding offers (generally April 2021), all applicants must complete and submit a Partnership Agreement Budget for Arts Endowment review. Instructions and deadlines will be provided with the notification of funding.

Award Information

Partnership Award Amounts

Funds will be awarded in accordance with the National Endowment for the Arts’ legislative mandate, and compliance with the review criteria.

NEW: Beginning in FY 2021, funds for activities that strengthen state support of the folk & traditional arts will be awarded to each state arts agency as part of their Partnership Agreement.

Cost Share/Matching Requirement

All awards require a cost share/match of at least 1 to 1.

The 1 to 1 cost share/match must come from state government funds that are directly controlled and appropriated by the state and directly managed by the state agency.

For those agencies covered by the Economic Development of the Territories Act (American Samoa, Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the Virgin Islands), the cost share/matching requirement does not apply to the first $200,000 of National Endowment for the Arts funds (48 USC 1469a(d) as amended). Agencies must request a waiver from the cost share/matching requirement for amounts above the first $200,000 of our funds.

All costs included in your Project Budget must be expended during your period of performance. Costs associated with other federal funds, whether direct or indirect, cannot be included in your Project Budget. Costs incurred before the earliest project start date of July 1, 2021, cannot be included in your budget or cost share/match.

Applicant Eligibility

Eligibility Requirements for State Arts Agencies

State arts agency Partnership Agreements are limited to the fifty state and six jurisdictional arts agencies. In order to enter into a state arts agency Partnership Agreement and receive federal funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, a state arts agency must comply with the following requirements:


The state arts agency must:

Organizational Entity and Capacity

The state arts agency must:

  • Be domiciled within the State.
  • Be designated by its State government as programmatically and administratively responsible for developing a statewide arts plan and establishing arts and cultural policy having a statewide impact.
  • Be designated as officially responsible for coordinating and administering all financial support received from the National Endowment for the Arts and the State in conjunction with the state arts agency Partnership Agreement.
  • Have designated staff with relevant experience; a designated budget; and an independent board, council, or commission whose members serve in an advisory or policy-making capacity.

Financial Support, Cost Share/Matching Funds, and Financial Reporting

The state arts agency must:

  • Be financially supported by its State government.
  • Provide a cost share/match to the National Endowment for the Arts Partnership Agreementfunds at least 1 to 1.
  • The 1 to 1 cost share/match must come from state government funds that are directly controlled and appropriated by the state and directly managed by the state agency.

  • Use Partnership Agreement funds to supplement and not supplant non-federal funds. (Non-federal funds cannot be replaced with federal funds with the intention or effect of reducing State financial support for the state arts agency.)
  • Have submitted acceptable Final Report packages by the due dates for all National Endowment for the Arts awards previously received, and report on funded activities in accordance with the National Standard for Arts Information Exchange.

Planning, Programming, and Evaluation

The state arts agency must have developed a state arts plan that:

  • Results from an inclusive, public process that solicited and represented the perspectives of arts constituencies throughout the State. 
  • Reflects the state arts agency’s operating environment, mission, goals, strategic directions, action plans, recommendations from the public process, and timelines and metrics for both accomplishing goals and measuring progress.
  • Demonstrates the state arts agency’s commitment and its capacity to implement the arts-related programs and services reflected in the plan.
  • Bases program funding decisions on criteria that rely primarily upon artistic excellence and merit.

The state arts agency submits this plan with its Partnership Agreement application.

State arts agencies that subgrant must:

  • Require their grantees to provide DUNS numbers before a grant can be made.
  • In certain instances, report grants of $25,000 or more in federal funds and information about the compensation of executives related to those grants to the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act Subaward Reporting System (FSRS).
  • Ensure that all subawards made with Federal or cost share/matching funds are in compliance with the General Terms and Conditions for the National Endowment for the Arts award, including requirements for pass-through entities provided for under 2 CFR 200.331.

All applicants must have a DUNS number ( and be registered with the System for Award Management (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. See here for important information about upcoming changes for federal applicants and awardees.

National Endowment for the Arts, Regional, and State Partnership

The National Endowment for the Arts, the Regional Arts Organizations, and the State Arts Agencies comprise a national network of arts funders, cultural program and service providers, and leaders in the arts and culture sector. We believe that each participating entity benefits from partnership in the network. We invest in the network through State and Regional Partnership Agreement grants in order to: 

  • Strengthen the cultural infrastructure of the United States,
  • Facilitate the creation and presentation of artistic works,
  • Provide the public with lifelong learning opportunities in the arts,
  • Enhance public engagement with, and access to, the arts,
  • Foster greater cultural understanding, and
  • Contribute to the enrichment of lives and communities throughout the nation.

We acknowledge that SAAs may choose to participate in the work of a regional arts organization of which it is not a member. SAAs may choose to shift membership from one regional arts organization to another, or may choose to withhold membership in an RAO. While recognizing that the ecology of the network benefits from change, we also believe that the network benefits from stability. To this end, shifts in state membership in RAOs must be preceded by at least one full year of planning by all of the agencies involved, including the National Endowment for the Arts.