National Endowment for the Arts Awards $29 Million for Arts Projects

Poetry Fellowships, Arts Education, Rural Communities, and More

Matisse Math Lesson.JPG

Children in school showing art work

T.S. Cooper Elementary kindergartners in Gates County, North Carolina experience math concepts by creating original artwork in the style of the artist Henri Matisse. The school is part of the A+ Schools Program, a growing network of schools across the nation. Jones County, North Carolina received an arts...

Washington, DC— From partnerships to develop a districtwide arts education plan in North Carolina to poetry from a combat engineer to a folk arts festival in rural Wyoming, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) continues to support the arts and creativity to improve lives and communities in the United States. In its first fiscal year 2015 announcement, the NEA will award $29.1 million in 1,116 grants in three categories: Art Works, Challenge America, and NEA Literature Fellowships in Creative Writing.

NEA Chairman Jane Chu said, "Since coming to the NEA, I have met with many NEA grantees and have seen first-hand the positive impact they have on their communities. These new projects will continue to demonstrate the power the arts have to deepen value, build connections, and foster an atmosphere of creativity and innovation both at the community level and with individuals throughout the nation."

  • Click here for a list of the 1,116 awardees by city and state.
  • Click  here for a list of Art Works grants by arts discipline or field including artist communities, arts education, dance, folk and traditional arts, local arts agencies, literature, media, museums, music, opera, presenting and multidisciplinary works, theater and musical theater, and visual arts.
  • Click here for a list of the 192 panelists that collectively reviewed 3,455 applications for funding.


First round of NEA's major funding category, Art Works, includes more than $26.57 million in awards

These Art Works grants focus on the creation of work and presentation of both new and existing work, lifelong learning in the arts, and public engagement with the arts through 13 arts disciplines or fields. The NEA will award 917 awarded totaling $26,571,000.

  • New arts education funding opportunity yields seven collective impact projects

The NEA affirms its commitment to providing arts education experiences for all students by developing a new funding priority within the Art Works arts education portfolio. Called collective impact, these projects focus on collaborative, systematic approaches that encompass entire schools, school districts, and/or states, in communities of all sizes. 

In this initial round of funding—and together with 66 other arts education grants—the NEA is supporting seven collective impact projects totaling $495,000. Together, these seven projects will have a positive effect on an estimated 750,000 students. For example:

Ingenuity Incorporated Chicago received a $100,000 award to partner with Chicago Public Schools Department of Arts Education, teachers, Chicago's arts, cultural, and philanthropy communities, as well as parents and students in a large-scale data collection effort. After gathering and analyzing information such as instruction, budgeting, and planning in as many as 600 schools, Ingenuity Institutes will help arts organizations use data to partner more effectively with schools. Coordinated efforts will continue to foster the re-integration of the arts into classrooms to help ensure that all Chicago children have access to quality arts education.

For the complete list of Art Works collective impact projects, click here.

  • Innovative projects that integrate the arts, science, and technology receive funding

Since 2010, NEA has encouraged and invested in work at the intersection of art, science and technology. Through funding, publications and content development, and collaborations with federal agencies and departments, the NEA has sought to catalyze and support work in this realm of innovation.

There is no designated funding category for arts, science, and technology projects, so grant awards appear in several NEA's disciplines. The following example demonstrates the unique, border-crossing nature of these projects.

A $40,000 grant to the Pasadena Arts Council in California will support design and implementation of AxS Incubator. The initiative is a pilot residency program that will nurture projects that intersect art and science. Project activity will include the creation of an artist resource program offering cross-sector assistance, which may include access to local artists, scientists, and curators at Art Center College of Design, the California Institute of Technology, and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

For the complete list  of Art Works arts, science, technology grants, click here.

In its 47th year of supporting individual writers, NEA receives record number of applications.

Thirty-six poets have been selected to receive an NEA Literature Fellowship in Creative Writing. This $25,000, non-matching fellowship allows published writers to set aside time for writing, research, travel, and career advancement. NEA fellowships are highly competitive. The NEA received more than 1,634 eligible manuscripts in this round.

Proving that poets come from all walks of life, each with a different story and unique perspective, this year's poets include:

·         Laurie Saurborn Young, a photographer who has worked in factories and the mental health field.

·         Anders Carlson-Wee was a professional rollerblader.

·         Sandra Beasley wrote a memoir of her life with food allergies.

·         Kerry James Evans served six years in the Army National Guard as a combat engineer.

For the complete list of creative writing fellowships, click here.

Challenge America continues to extend its reach to rural communities

Included in this funding round are 163 recommended Challenge America grants totaling $1.63 million to organizations in 44 states. The Challenge America category offers $10,000 matching grants to support projects that extend the reach of the arts to underserved populations whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability. NEA staff provide significant technical assistance to these applicants to mentor them in project development and the grant application process.

  • Noteworthy this year is that of the 163 awardees, 30 percent are first-time NEA grantees, indicating that efforts to reach more prospective applicants were successful.
  • In addition, 22 percent of the grants will go to rural communities.
    • As an example, John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas will receive a grant to support Giving Voice: A Festival of Writing and the Art. The rural, multidisciplinary festival is intended to serve economically disadvantaged high school students from Oklahoma, Missouri, and Arkansas.

For the complete list of Challenge America grants, click here.

Please follow the conversation about these projects on Twitter at #NEAFall2014.

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 $5 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

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Victoria Hutter,, 202-682-5692