Timeline of NEA Highlights

Find a highlighted grant or project for each year of NEA’s history from the thousands of grants we award annually. Complete lists of grants can be found in the Annual Reports from 1965 - 1997 and on our Recent Grant Search page from 1998 to the present.


A Black man in a military uniform holds his son up to look at a piece of art in a museum.
To support our military families, the NEA launched Blue Star Museums in 2010, a partnership between the NEA, Blue Star Families, and the Department of Defense that offers free admission to active-duty military personnel and their families at more than 2,000 museums nationwide.


A group of children surrounding a man in a white shirt and hat in front of a mural they just painted.
As the NEA's main creative placemaking initiative, Our Town was founded in 2010 on the belief that the arts have a unique ability to create a distinct sense of place, jumpstart local economies, and increase creative activity.


Logo for ACPSA
In 2012, the NEA announced a landmark partnership with the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) to develop an Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account (ACPSA), the first federal effort to measure the arts and cultural sector’s contributions to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).


A hand pointing to a drawing of a man.
In 2013, the NEA expanded the Operation Homecoming initiative into Creative Forces®: NEA Military Healing Arts Network, and took this program a step further by placing creative arts therapies at the core of patient-centered care at clinical sites.


Cover of The Art of Empathy publication on top of a spread of the interior of the book.
The NEA produced the publication, The Art of Empathy: Celebrating Literature in Translation, in 2014, in which 19 translators and advocates of translation illuminate the challenges of bringing new voices to American audiences.


Cover of Creativity Connects publication
To celebrate the agency's 50th anniversary, the NEA introduced a new initiative, Creativity Connects.


Four women and two men pose in front of a banner with CBS and Tonys on it.
In 2016, the NEA received an auspicious honor: a Special Tony Award for its “unwavering commitment to paving the road” between Broadway and cities throughout the country.


People sit around an outdoor table in a tropical environment
In 2017, after a series of devastating hurricanes, the National Endowment for the Arts carried out a multipronged relief effort, awarding emergency funding for re-granting to the affected state arts agencies.


A student jazz orchestra is playing on stage while people seated at a table in front of the stage turn and watch.
The NEA had its first National Council on the Arts meeting outside of Washington, DC in 27 years in 2018, holding it in West Virginia.


Black woman wearing glasses and a colorful shirt with medium-length black hair speaking at a podium on stage.
For its innovative outreach strategy to HBCUs, the National Endowment for the Arts received a Public Partnership Award in 2019, presented by the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (WHI-HBCU) at its annual conference in Washington, DC.