RESEARCH GRANTS IN THE ARTS: Frequently Asked Questions

How can I find out when new guidelines are released?
Guidelines are generally modified every year. Email nearesearchgrants@arts.gov to sign up for our distribution list to receive updates for when they are released. You can also sign up via Grants.gov.

What is the difference between the Research Grants in the Arts program and the NEA Research Labs program?
Both program invite applicants to engage with the agency’s five-year research agenda with research projects:

Research Grants in the Arts funds research studies that investigate the value and/or impact of the arts, either as individual components of the U.S. arts ecology or as they interact with each other and/or with other domains of American life. Examples of previous Research Grants in the Arts projects can be found here. (Prior to FY20, this program was known as “Research: Art Works.”)

NEA Research Labs funds transdisciplinary research teams, grounded in the social and behavioral sciences, to engage with the NEA's five-year research agenda. NEA Research Labs yield empirical insights about the arts for the benefit of arts and non-arts sectors alike.

Beyond the subject matter of the two funding opportunities, there is another distinction. The Arts Endowment uses two types of awards to fund project activities: cooperative agreements and grants. A cooperative agreement is different from a grant in that the Arts Endowment is substantially involved with the awardee in the direction and accomplishments of the program. Both funding mechanisms are subject to Title 2 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 200.

Research Grants in the Arts is a grant program, and NEA Research Labs is a cooperative agreement program. The Arts Endowment will be substantially involved in the direction and accomplishments of NEA Research Labs.

Would it be possible for someone that is not employed by the official applicant organization to serve as the Principal Investigator/Project Director?
Yes, however, the official applicant organization is the legally binding agent for the application, and thus is agreeing to be responsible for the actions of the principal investigator/project director.

I am a state arts agency (SAA) or a regional arts organization (RAO), and I am interested in applying for an application for a Research Grants in the Arts grant or an NEA Research Lab award. Can I apply?

No, SAAs and RAOs cannot apply for either opportunity as the authorizing organization, but can apply to the Arts Endowment as the official applicant under the Partnership Agreements category.

I am a SAA or RAO, and I am interested in being a partner on an application for a Research Grants in the Arts grant or an NEA Research Lab award. Can I serve as a partner?

Yes, SAAs or RAOs may participate as a partner for either opportunity; however, no federal or cost share/matching funds included in the Partnership Agreement can be given to or provided by the SAA or RAO.

Do I need to include citation references in my proposal and if so, where do I put them?
Yes, references should be included in the project narrative of the Grant Application Form.

What method of citation is preferred?
We do not currently have any requirements regarding the style of citation. Common citation formats include but are not limited to APA, AMA, Chicago, and MLA. Do not use footnoting in the text fields of the Grant Application Form, though this is acceptable for any PDF attachments.

We missed the application deadline. Can I submit a late application?
The National Endowment for the Arts does not accept late applications. The only exception is for a technological failure on the part of SAM.gov or Grants.gov, as determined on a case-by-case basis by the Arts Endowment.
To be considered for this exception, you must provide documentation (copies of emails, screenshots, etc.) of a SAM.gov or Grants.gov technological failure dating from:

  • March 8 or earlier for SAM.gov, and
  • March 19 or earlier for Grants.gov

We will consider and address your situation as appropriate.

Examples of Reasons Why Late Applications Will Not Be Accepted:

  • Heavy administrative responsibilities on the part of the applicant’s staff, relocation of an office/other workspace, personal events, or a very busy schedule.
  • Problems with computer systems or Internet access at the applicant organization, or failure to complete or renew required registrations in advance of the application due date.
  • Failure to follow instructions in the guidelines or funding opportunity announcement.

We will not make exceptions for applications that are the result of user error, including failure to register in SAM.gov or to verify that your application was successfully submitted to the Grants.gov system. The Arts Endowment is under no obligation to accept applications that are late for these reasons.

Reminders:

  • The Arts Endowment expects that applications will be submitted on time.
  • On time submission means an application is submitted error free no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the application due date.
  • Permission for late application submission cannot be granted in advance.
  • Applications submitted late or outside the Grants.gov system (e.g., an emailed SF-424) will not be processed, reviewed, or considered for funding.

Will you contact me if my application is missing anything?
No. Because of the volume of applications, we have a strict approach to incomplete applications. For your application to be considered complete, every item that is required MUST be included in your application package, which must be submitted no later than the application deadline date. Staff will not contact applicants to request missing material, and incomplete applications will be returned to you. Please don't let that happen. Use the "How to Prepare and Submit an Application" section for your category to make sure that you have included every item. Have the completeness and accuracy of your application package double-checked by a responsible staff member who understands the importance of this task. Allow at least six weeks to prepare your application and other supplementary information. And do not wait until the day of the deadline to submit!

If my application is determined to be incomplete, may I add the missing item(s) and resubmit the application?
No. The staff has to check thousands of applications. By the time that an application is identified as incomplete, it will likely be several weeks after the application deadline. An organization cannot add missing items and resubmit the application after the application deadline. We encourage you to double-check your application package against the "How to Prepare and Submit an Application" section to make sure that nothing is missing. If new or updated information that significantly affects your application becomes available after the deadline, you may send it to the Research staff at nearesearchgrants@arts.gov.

One of the proposed research staff is unable to complete the human subjects ethics training and thus cannot supply the required certificate of completion of the training. Is there an alternative to the requirement for this person that would allow him/her to continue as a researcher on the project without the certificate?
We require all researchers involved in human subjects data to demonstrate completion of a federally sponsored human ethics training course. If a particular researcher is unable to provide evidence of this training, then he or she may not collect, process, or analyze data from human subjects as part of the project, but may serve in another research capacity.

Can I get a sample application?
Examples under the Research Grants in the Arts category (previously known as Research: Art Works grant category) can be found in the FOIA Reading Room, Frequently Requested Records for information on what is available as sample application material. We do not have sample applications available for the NEA Research Labs program.

'How soon after the "Earliest Start Date for Proposed Project" for my deadline does my project have to begin?
Our support can start any time on or after that date.

Can my project start before this date?
No. Proposed project activities for which you're requesting support cannot take place before this date. Ask the National Endowment for the Arts to fund only the portion of your project that will take place after the "Earliest Start Date for Proposed Project." If you include project costs that are incurred before the "Earliest Start Date for Proposed Project in your Project Budget, they will be removed.

How long can my project last? May I apply for another project during this period?
Research Grants in the Arts generally allows a period of performance of up to three years, depending on the project type and scope. Within the limits of the guidelines, ask for the amount of time that you think is necessary.

NEA Research Lab awards generally allows a period of performance of up to two years, and may be renewed up to four times. The life of Arts Endowment funding of an NEA Research Lab could be up to ten years, including all renewal awards.

If you get close to the end of your award period and think you need more time, you may request an extension, but approval is not guaranteed.

As long as it meets all other eligibility requirements, an organization may apply for funding for another project (with totally different project costs) the following year even if a National Endowment for the Arts-supported project is still underway. Note that if you do receive an extension on a previous year's project, it may affect your grant period for your new proposed project. Requests for extensions must be submitted through a proper REACH account for the award.

Can federally recognized tribes apply?
Yes, but under the Research Grants in the Arts category only. In keeping with federal policies of Tribal Self Governance and Self-Determination, we may provide support for a project with a primary audience restricted to enrolled members of a federally recognized tribe. Applicants (federally recognized tribal governments, nonprofits situated on federally recognized tribal lands, or other nonprofits whose mission primarily serves federally recognized tribal enrollees) should consult with our staff to verify their eligibility before preparing an application.

Can non-federally recognized tribes apply?
Yes, but under the Research Grants in the Arts category only, and as long as the applicant is a nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3), U.S. organization. Projects for non-federally recognized tribes and indigenous groups may be supported, but project participation can’t be restricted to only tribal members.

Can Native Hawaiian groups apply?
Yes, but under the Research Grants in the Arts category only, and as long as the applicant is a nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3), U.S. organization. Projects for Native Hawaiians may be supported, but project participation can’t be restricted to only Native Hawaiians.

My organization received a NEA Research Lab award last year or in prior years, are we eligible to apply under the NEA Research Lab program for a new award?
As an official applicant, you are not eligible to apply for this round. However, you can serve as a partner on another application from an eligible applicant organization.

Can our organization use funds we received from the Small Business Administration (SBA) as cost share/match for an Arts Endowment grant?
No. Federal funds are not allowed to be used as cost share/match for federal grants (2 CFR §200.306). In addition, the Arts Endowment’s enabling legislation does not allow any federal funds to be used as cost share/match for its awards. This includes the Paycheck Protection Program from the SBA, as well as other federal funding, including funding from:

  • Corporation for National and Community Service
  • National Endowment for the Humanities
  • National Institutes of Health
  • National Park Service
  • National Science Foundation
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • U.S. Department of Education (e.g., grants from the Institute of Education Sciences)
  • U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • Or an entity that receives federal appropriations such as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting or Amtrak

Note that organizations are eligible to apply for Arts Endowment funding even if they have applied for and received funding from the SBA, provided the organization isn't double-claiming any individual's salary. Recipients will be required to keep documentation to show which employees are being paid from each funding source so that the government isn't paying more than 100 percent of a salary. Applicants with additional questions about SBA programs should contact the SBA directly as we are unable to provide guidance on programs other than our own.

My organization applied for CARES funding. Can we also apply to Research Awards?
Yes. You can apply to both categories as long as you meet the eligibility criteria. However, you need to be sure that there are no overlapping costs. If your CARES and Research Awards applications both include salaries, fees, or facilities costs, make sure those costs don’t overlap, i.e., occur at the same time.

Can my organization apply for the same types of costs that were available for funding in CARES?
Yes. You can apply for salaries, fees, and facilities costs as long as they fit into the proposed project. There is a key difference between CARES and Research Awards. Research Awards applications must be for projects only. A project may consist of one or more specific events or activities, and it may be a part of an applicant's regular season or activities. We do not fund seasonal or general operating support in Research Grants in the Arts nor NEA Research Labs.

How should my organization formulate its project if we’re not sure when in-person research and associated activities will be possible? Will it be possible to make project changes if needed later in the process?
You should do your best to complete information within the application to the best of your knowledge. If you are recommended for an award, you will have an opportunity to request changes (e.g., a time extension, a modification to project activities) at that stage of the process. If you receive an award, you will have the opportunity to request project changes later in the process, as outlined in the How to Manage Your Award Handbook.

We will work with you to try to accommodate changes to your project, but approval is not guaranteed. If you need to request a change, please contact the Arts Endowment at nearesearchgrants@arts.gov to discuss what is possible.

My organization usually applies for in person research activities. Can we apply for virtual activities, or the costs associated with planning for virtual activities?
Yes.

Our exhibition space and/or performance venue will need to make physical changes to meet social distancing requirements, such as the removal of seats or installation of plexiglass to protect staff. To what extent can these costs be included in the project budget?
You can apply for costs related to physical changes as long as they fit into the proposed project. However, we do not fund the costs of physical construction or renovation, or the purchase costs of facilities or land.

Can project budgets include expenses related to increased sanitation measures, such as additional personnel, cleaning services, PPE, and other supplies?
Yes. You can apply for costs related to increased sanitation as long as they fit into the proposed project.