NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman announces 863 grants and $22.543 million in funding

Grants include Art Works and creative writing fellowshipsVictoria Hutter 202.682.5570

Rapid City, South Dakota—At a public panel discussion in Rapid City, South Dakota, today, National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Rocco Landesman announced that the agency will award 863 grants to organizations and individual writers across the country. The awards total $22.543 million, encompass 15 artistic disciplines and fields, and support projects in 47 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

Of those 863 grants awards, 823 are for projects at not-for-profit organizations that are creating works of art through commissions and artists residencies; engaging the public with works of art through exhibitions, tours, and festivals; furthering lifelong learning in the arts in schools, communities, and at arts organizations; or increasing community livability through the arts.

The remaining 40 awards are made to individual writers who will receive creative writing fellowships totaling $1 million. Designed to give writers the time and freedom to pursue their work, the creative writing fellowships are the NEA’s most direct investment in America’s artists. The new fellows come from 20 states and the District of Columbia.

“Art Works is the guiding principle at the NEA,” said agency Chairman Rocco Landesman. “And I’m pleased to see that principle represented through the 823 Art Works-funded projects included in this announcement. These projects demonstrate the imaginative and innovative capacities of artists and arts organizations to enhance the quality of life in their communities.”

In March 2011, the NEA received 1,686 eligible applications for Art Works requesting more than $84 million in funding. The resulting funding rate of 49 percent of eligible applications reflects both the significant demand for support and the ongoing vitality of the not-for-profit arts community despite current financial challenges. The competition for the fellowships is even more acute with 1,179 applications received. Art Works grants and the creative writing fellowships are awarded based on the applications received by the NEA and how those applications are assessed by the review panels.

Examples of projects funded through Art Works are:

In Omaha, Nebraskathe Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts will receive a $20,000 grant in a consortium project with Heartland Family Services that centers on artist residencies. Fourteen artists from a variety of disciplines will work with one of 11 social service programs to provide two-way engagement through art.

The Tucson Symphony Society in Arizona will receive a $10,000 grant for its Young Composers Project. Students will learn to compose works for orchestra, culminating in a reading and recording of their pieces by the Tucson Symphony Chamber Orchestra or the Tucson String Quintet.

Project H Design in Windsor, North Carolina, will receive a $40,000 grant to support Studio H, a community design/build and public education program in rural Bertie County. Sixteen high school students will design and build a contextually responsive architecture project to house programming that benefits the public.

Michigan State University in East Lansing will receive a $40,000 grant to support the 2012 Great Lakes Folk Festival. In collaboration with the City of East Lansing, the university will produce a festival that showcases the traditional arts and cultures of the nation’s Upper Midwest and highlights the adaptive reuse inherent in traditional culture.

University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, Missouri, will receive a $15,000 grant for its 2012 Show-Me Justice Film Festival.  Films will include feature-length narratives, animated, and documentary films, as well as short films that address issues of social injustice. 

In Anchorage, the Alaska SeaLife Center will receive a $34,000 grant to support GYRE, an exhibition that will engage artists and scientists in the global problem of marine debris. In partnership with the Anchorage Museum, a group of artists will accompany a team on a research expedition to learn about the impact of marine debris on various ecosystems.

American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts, will receive a $40,000 grant to support the world premiere of Futurity: A Musical by the Lisps. This work will fuse traditional American folk music, Brechtian choral elements, and The Lisps’ eccentric indie-rock to tell the story of a young Union soldier in the Civil War who is an aspiring inventor and science fiction visionary.

The College of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph, Minnesota, will receive a $30,000 grant to support a project with the dance company Abraham in Motion and performance troupe Spirit of Uganda for activities in partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of Central Minnesota and the local school district. 

In Pasadena, California, the Armory Center for the Arts will receive a $35,000 grant to support the exhibition Water, CA. Artist collectives and individual artists will exhibit works, stage performances, and convene events to broaden the public's understanding of California’s water use history and the changing role of contemporary art practice in society.

Please use Recent Grant Search to see the complete listing of projects recommended for Art Works grant support.

The panelists who reviewed the 1,179 applications for literature fellowship noted several trends in the winning manuscripts that reflect those in the larger publishing world including narratives concerning Hurricane Katrina, immigration, and service members struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder. Among the 40 literature fellows for 2012 are Veronica Chambers of Hoboken, New York;Jennifer Haigh of Hull, Maine; Karen Fisher of Lopez Island, Washington; andSarah A. Strickley of Houston, Texas.
Please use Recent Grant Search to see the complete listing of writers recommended for Creative Writing fellowships.

The NEA grantmaking process for both of these categories takes approximately nine months and is an effective, thorough, balanced, and equitable process. The NEA convenes outside experts (plus one lay person) into groups that balance the professional perspectives on a given field plus diversity in geography, gender, and ethnic background. Panels are organized by artistic discipline. Panelists review all materials including work samples and convene in Washington, DC to discuss and score each application. The panels’ recommendations are considered by the National Council on the Arts, the NEA’s advisory body, and the NEA chairman before final approval.

Please use Recent Grant Search to see the state-by-state listing of all the grants announced in this release is also available.

The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector.  To join the discussion on how art works, visit the NEA at


Victoria Hutter

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Grant Announcement Fast Facts

Art Works

  • Number of eligible Art Works applications received: 1,686
  • Number of panelists engaged by the NEA to review those applications:165
  • Number of Art Works grant awards: 823
  • Total dollar amount of Art Work grant awards:$21.543 million
  • Average dollar amount of Art Works grants:$26,177
  • Median dollar amount of Art Works grants:$20,000
  • Number of states where grants were awarded: 47 plus Puerto Rico and Washington, DC
  • Number of arts disciplines or fields including in Art Works grants: 15 (artist communities, arts education, dance, design, folk & traditional, literature, local arts agencies, media arts, museums, music, musical theater, opera, presenting & multidisciplinary, theater, and visual arts)

Creative Writing 

  • Number of applications:1,179
  • Number of panelists who reviewed those applications: 12
  • Number of manuscript pages read and reviewed by the panel: approximately 35,000
  • Number of writers who have received a fellowship since 1967: 2,758
  • Number of writers who have received a fellowship and gone on to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize for literature: 45