National Initiatives

National Initiatives

The NEA works with other federal agencies, state and local governments, state and regional arts agencies, and private nonprofits on projects that provide opportunities for thousands of Americans to experience quality arts programming throughout the country.

Arts & Human Development Task Force

Beginning in 2011, the NEA has convened a Federal Interagency Task Force on the Arts and Human Development to encourage more and better research on how the arts can help people reach their full potential at all stages of life.

Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design

Established in 1991, the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design offers funding to communities with populations of 50,000 or less to host community design workshops.


Through cooperative initiatives with other funders, the National Endowment for the Arts brings the benefit of international exchange to arts organizations, artists, and audiences nationwide. NEA's international activities increase recognition of the excellence of U.S. arts around the world and broaden the scope of experience of American artists, thereby enriching the art they create.

NEA Research Labs

Transdisciplinary teams that function as centers of excellence for research on key topics associated with the value and impact of the arts.

Shakespeare in American Communities

Shakespeare in American Communities/Shakespeare for a New Generation is a program to bring professional theater companies to middle and high schools throughout the country to perform Shakespeare’s plays and conduct educational activities.  The NEA presents the program in partnership with Arts Midwest.

Arts Education Partnership

The Arts Education Partnership, a collaboration among the NEA, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Education Commission of the States as well as all AEP partner organizations, convenes forums to discuss topics in arts education, publishes research materials supporting the role of arts education in schools, and acts as a clearinghouse for arts education resource material.


Creative Forces: NEA Military Healing Arts Network places creative arts therapies at the core of patient-centered care at 11 clinical sites throughout the country, plus a telehealth program, and increases access to therapeutic arts activities in local communities for military members, veterans, and their families. These programs serve the unique and special needs of military patients who have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury and psychological health conditions.

Mayors’ Institute on City Design

A partnership of the NEA and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the Mayors’ Institute on City Design convenes mayors and design experts to solve the most critical planning and design challenges facing their cities.

Poetry Out Loud

A partnership of the NEA, the Poetry Foundation, and the state arts agencies, the Poetry Out Loud program encourages high school students to memorize and perform great poems.


The NEA is expanding its 2016 Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge from a pilot program to a national competition open to all high school songwriters. Finalists receive a trip to New York City and scholarships.

Blue Star Museums

Blue Star Museums is a collaboration among the NEA, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and more than 2,000 museums in all 50 states that offers free admission to active-duty military personnel and their families from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.


The Creativity Connects initiative shows how the arts contribute to the nation’s creative ecosystem, examines the ways in which the support systems for artists are changing, and explores how the arts can connect with other sectors that want and utilize creativity.

NEA Big Read

A program of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Big Read broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book. Managed by Arts Midwest, this initiative offers grants to support innovative community reading programs designed around a single book.


Established in 1999, the Save America’s Treasures program helps preserve nationally significant historic properties and collections that convey our nation's rich heritage to future generations of Americans. The program is a partnership between the National Park Service, National Endowment for the Humanities, Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the NEA.