National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Joan Shigekawa Announces $350,000 in Research Grants

Investments will increase the understanding of how art works and its impacts on communities

Washington, D.C.-- Today National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Acting Chairman Joan Shigekawa announced $350,000 in NEA support for 17 new research grants that measure different characteristics and contributions of the arts, which the NEA has mapped as a complex, dynamic system. This is the second annual round of Arts Works: Research grants, which encourage the public to propose research studies using new or existing data sets to measure the value and/or impact of the arts in the United States.

"There is a universal call for more rigorous research on the arts," said NEA Acting Chairman Joan Shigekawa. "While there's no universal definition on what should be measured, we hope that the NEA's system map offers a useful starting point. We expect these grants to produce reliable research that can advance public knowledge and understanding about the map's myriad components."

These projects investigate areas of research that align with parts of the "How Art Works" system map, such as the cognitive and emotional benefits of art for individuals or the role of arts education and training in achieving broader outcomes. Other projects look at arts infrastructure, arts participation and art-making, and the benefits of art for society and communities. Some of the specific questions asked in these studies are: How do the arts work in rural-urban ('rurban') geographies? How does art affect physiological responses to stress in young children? Are there links between arts participation in high school and college enrollment and achievement levels?

Examples of projects supported in this round of Art Works: Research are:

Art Institute of Chicago in Chicago, IL, a grant for $20,000 to support a study of the characteristics, needs, and support systems of ethnically and culturally specific organizations in the U.S. and Canada by analyzing existing datasets alongside results from a planned survey of arts organizations. Researchers will mine data from the National Center for Charitable Statistics, the U.S. Census, Statistics Canada, and the Canada Revenue Agency in order to generate a study sample of organizations whose missions explicitly address one or more of the following groups: Asian; African American; Latino/a; Native American/Aboriginal; White; Some Other Race; and Multiethnic.

California State University Stanislaus in Turlock, CA, a grant for $20,000 to support a study of the differential impacts of arts participation on California’s Central San Joaquin Valley, in particular Stanislaus County. The study will use geospatial mapping to analyze data from multiple sources, including the American Community Survey, the General Social Survey, the Cultural Data Project, and participation rosters and mailing lists from local arts organizations.

Trustees of Boston College in Chestnut Hill, MA, a grant for $25,000 to support a study to determine whether Americans’ interests in visual arts, music, and literature can predict levels of entrepreneurship and innovation in the workplace, as demonstrated by longitudinal survey data from the U.S. Department of Labor. The study also will examine whether factors such as self-mastery and risk-tolerance strengthen any associations between arts interests and workplace innovation.

University of Maryland at College Park in College Park, MD, a grant for $25,000 to support an analysis of two longitudinal datasets for information about the impact of high school arts education on college attainment, after controlling for certain pre-existing differences between arts and non-arts students. The researchers have access to “restricted-use” datasets under a license from the U.S. Department of Education, thus allowing more detailed analysis of students’ socioeconomic status and school-related outcomes than is typically possible.

West Chester University of Pennsylvania in West Chester, PA, a grant for $25,000 to support research on the physiological impacts of arts, music, and visual arts participation on economically disadvantaged children by measuring the relationship between levels of the stress hormone cortisol and arts engagement among Head Start preschool students.

This grant category is part of a new direction for NEA research. The NEA seeks to extend the conversation on arts research through commissioned research and research and policy conferences that look at the value and impact of the arts in other domains of American life, such as education, health and well-being, community livability, and economic prosperity. These new endeavors build on more than 30 years of NEA-published research on the arts in America.

Please see the list of all 17 grants.

About the National Endowment for the Arts

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


Sally Gifford