New Cross-Sector Research Projects Explore Arts, Health, and Business

NEA Funds Investigations into Value and Impact of the Arts in Non-Art Sectors
embroidered outline of female brain
Embroidered brain from Flickr user Hey Paul Studios
Washington, DC – The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announces the first projects funded through a new program, NEA Research Labs. The cross-sector projects supported through the program investigate how the arts contribute to positive outcomes for individuals and communities. The NEA will fund four inaugural projects totaling $598,600 that will yield insights for the arts sector and for non-arts sectors such as healthcare, education, business, and management.   Of the 44 applications received by the NEA, the four labs recommended for funding are: Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA; University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR; University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA; and Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN. Each of the labs will design and implement a research agenda and prepare reports in one of three areas:
  • The Arts, Health, and Social/Emotional Well-Being
  • The Arts, Creativity, Cognition, and Learning
  • The Arts, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation
Drexel University: $149,100 Drexel University will develop an Arts Research on Chronic Stress Lab to explore the intersection of the arts, health, and social/emotional well-being. The intent is to connect creative arts therapies with community-based arts organizations to enhance social engagement and overall well-being in those who have been affected by prolonged stressors such as chronic pain, extended caregiving, academic stress, and trauma. Researchers will work with the Settlement Music School, ArtWell, Build-a-Bridge International, and the Penn Medicine Radiation Oncology Department. University of Arkansas: $149,500 Researchers at the Character Assessment Initiative at the University of Arkansas' Department of Education Reform will team up with Pace University's Social Cognition and Imagination Lab to study the arts, health, and social/emotional well-being. The lab will study fourth- and fifth-graders who either do or do not attend arts-related field trips. This research has the potential to identify how disadvantaged students might be affected by arts experiences. Further, the project could yield future studies of other cognitive and emotional outcomes associated with arts-enriched experiences. University of Iowa: $150,000 The Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI) at the University of Iowa's College of Public Health, in partnership with the organization Art of the Rural, will look at the intersection of the arts, entrepreneurship, and innovation in rural contexts. RUPRI also will work with its Rural Intracultural Policy Council to develop pilot studies of rural "cultural ecologies." The pilot studies may use social network analysis, structured interviews, and respondent-driven survey sampling to test hypotheses about cultural and social capital as preconditions to innovation. Vanderbilt University: $150,000 The Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, & Public Policy at Vanderbilt University will partner with the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago and with the Arts & Business Council of Greater Nashville to study the arts, creativity, cognition, and learning. Through the lab, researchers will conduct a nationally representative survey to test the relationship between arts-based creativity and broader types of creativity such as problem-solving, entrepreneurship, and social networking. Furthermore, researchers will conduct a mixed-methods study of Nashville artists to understand how their activities and proclivities intersect with other domains of creativity. As the federal agency of record on arts research, the NEA, through its Office of Research & Analysis, produces accurate, relevant, and timely analyses and reports that reveal the conditions and characteristics of the U.S. arts ecosystem and the impact of the arts on our everyday lives. The four NEA Research Labs add important cross-sector resources to the agency’s collection of publications such as, A Decade of Arts Engagement: Findings From the Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, 2002–2012, funding opportunities such as  Research: Art Works, leading the Federal Agency Taskforce on Human Development, and producing other data resources. The NEA Research Labs initiative will help to fulfill milestones of a new five-year research agenda, available on the NEA’s website. About the National Endowment for the Arts Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Please visit


Victoria Hutter (NEA),, 202-682-5692