Multi-colored indoor visual projection installation taking up an entire gallery space

Media Arts

The National Endowment for the Arts envisions a nation with a robust creative ecosystem that is responsive and adapting to the dynamic, diverse, and evolving nature of the media arts field. Projects supported by the Arts Endowment are intended to support and advance careers for independent film and media artists, media arts practitioners, and artists exploring traditional or expanded forms of storytelling and visual expression using film, cinema, audio, broadcast, new media, creative code, and related formats. In addition, projects supported by the Arts Endowment provide opportunities for the public to deepen appreciation for, and experience, historic or contemporary works in-person, online, or through television or radio broadcast, digital streaming, or any other emerging formats including virtual, augmented, and mixed reality.

Arts & Technology Field Scan

From 2019-2021, the Arts Endowment has conducted an Arts & Technology Field Scan, a national research study launched in partnership with the Ford Foundation and the Knight Foundation. The project’s research plan focused on learning directly from the lived experiences of working artists engaging with technology through formal and informal arts settings, including those working in nonprofit, commercial, and community-based contexts spanning multiple sectors and artistic disciplines. Findings from this research are synthesized in a report, Tech as Art: Supporting Artists Who Use Technology as a Creative Mediumalongside ten commissioned essays written by practitioners as provocations to the broader arts and cultural field. The essays focus on the idea that an equitable, resilient, and thriving arts and cultural ecosystem includes deepened support for artistic practices focused on technology as a creative medium.

The result of this two-year investigation uncovers a robust creative ecosystem of tech-focused artists and practices, and provides insight into the ways:

  • Artists create art works with digital technologies—by writing code, visualizing data, developing interactive experiences, and much more;
  • Artists build community by developing shared open-source tools, establishing online forums for knowledge exchange, and founding organizations to facilitate the creativity of others; and
  • Artists critique the influence of technologies on daily life through projects that question pervasive practices, such as data collection and surveillance, and their disproportionate impact on communities of color.

The field scan also uplifts best practices and recommendations, alongside challenges and opportunities, to strengthen the U.S. arts infrastructure serving tech-focused creative practices. For example, the report provides evidence of the ways tech-focused artists can bring specialized expertise in using digital technology to:

  • Connect audiences across physical and virtual spaces;
  • Contribute to accelerated action in addressing racial inequities and social injustices across the arts and technology and other sectors; and
  • Engage local communities, address social issues, and bridge digital divides through their arts projects.

Short video profiles were developed to accompany the artist case studies in the report. They are part of an Arts & Technology Field Scan conducted by the National Endowment for the Arts, in partnership with the Ford Foundation and the Knight Foundation.

State arts agencies, regional arts organizations, and local arts councils are in a unique position within the creative ecosystem to cultivate infrastructure supporting the intersection of arts and technology. This two-page guide is intended for public arts funders interested in improving outreach and funding support for digital initiatives and technology-focused arts projects, cultivating regional infrastructure and cross-sector networks to advance arts and technology, and improving the capacity of arts organizations to support digital initiatives and emerging art forms that incorporate the use of creative code, computation, and data as an artistic medium.

Field Scan Report | Regional Trends Report | Essays | Case Study Videos | Launch Event Archive

Documentary Sustainability Project

In March 2020, the Arts Endowment launched a national initiative in partnership with the Sundance Institute, as an extension of conversations held at the Documentary Sustainability Summit on the topic of the need for more equitable transactions and career sustainability for independent nonfiction filmmakers. This new collaborative initiative aims to create a sustainable infrastructure that will strengthen the documentary filmmaking field through knowledge exchange, cross-sector collaboration, and research. CONTINUE