Cross-Sector Research Projects Explore Arts, Health, and Learning

National Endowment for the Arts Invests Almost $900,000 in New NEA Research Labs
Logo of NEA Research Labs
Washington, DC—Through its NEA Research Labs, the National Endowment for the Arts is funding four new labs and extending the activities of an existing lab to support research into improving social and emotional well-being and enhancing cognition and learning through the arts. The Arts Endowment’s investment in this round of labs is almost $900,000. Each lab features transdisciplinary teams of university-based researchers partnering with arts and health organizations to investigate the value and impact of the arts.  Full descriptions of the 2019 NEA Research Labs are linked here. University of California at San Diego La Jolla, CA $150,000 The University of California/San Diego, in partnership with San Diego Children’s Choir and Vista Unified School District, will establish a group of studies to trace the potential effects of various musical interventions on early childhood development. The goal is to identify and relate those effects to age, status of brain development, and genetic variation.  Texas Tech University Lubbock, TX $146,923 A key study of the lab at Texas Tech’s Talkington College of Visual and Performing Arts involves a team of artists, clinicians, and electronic media faculty in developing a visual arts-based app (using interactive virtual reality) as a rehabilitative tool for stroke survivors with aphasia or loss of speech.  University of Colorado Denver Aurora, CO $150,000 The University of Colorado Denver will develop and test a series of creative arts therapy programs designed to build resilience among critical care health professionals. Partners include Ponzio Creative Arts Therapy Program at Children's Hospital Colorado and Lighthouse Writers Workshop. These organizations will help design experimental tasks suitable for each form of creative art therapy and will aid in recruiting participants. William Marsh Rice University (Rice University) Houston, TX $150,000 In a partnership with Musiqa, a Houston-based contemporary music ensemble, Rice University will measure the effects of music-making and music engagement on cognitive and social-emotional well-being. The lab’s keystone study will examine older adults with mild cognitive impairments who undergo a six-week course combining musical exposure, creation, and performance.  Drexel University Philadelphia, PA Renewal: $300,000 Drexel University will extend the work of an Arts Research on Chronic Stress Lab (ARCS Lab) to include new projects: studying visual arts therapies in pediatric cancer care settings, music therapy’s effects on post-surgical pain management and opioid use, and studies on the outcomes of creative arts therapies for military service members with post-traumatic stress and/or traumatic brain injury Updates to ongoing labs This year marks the third year of the NEA Research Labs program. Labs funded in previous years that have ongoing activities are listed below with fuller descriptions of those activities are linked here. •    Drexel University: Concluding two studies examining the impact of creative arts therapies on health and social-emotional wellbeing. •    George Mason University: Planning a fall 2019 public conference to share and discuss its findings to date. •    Indiana University—Purdue University, Indianapolis: Launched a website for its Arts Entrepreneurship and Innovation Lab. Called for papers for a 2020 symposium. •    University of Arkansas, Fayetteville: Continues collecting and analyzing data about arts-related field trips. •    University of California, San Francisco: Posted new content to its website, had a review article published. •    University of Iowa: Created and posted framework documents on Rural Wealth Creation and Distribution. •    Vanderbilt University: Analyzing survey data about the arts’ relationship to creative attitudes and behaviors in the general population.  •    Vanderbilt University Medical Center: Conducting two studies on social-emotional development and community-building through music. National Endowment for the Arts and the integration of arts and health NEA Research Labs join with other National Endowment for the Arts activities that advance arts and health through research and practice. Creative Forces: NEA Military Healing Arts Network, for example, serves the unique and special needs of military patients who have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury and psychological health conditions. Other areas of support are featured on this Arts and Health fact sheet. About the National Endowment for the Arts Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts 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 Arts Endowment 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. Visit to learn more.


Victoria Hutter,, 202-682-5692