Grant Program Description
Art works to improve the lives of America's citizens in many ways. Communities across our nation are leveraging the arts and engaging design to make their communities more livable with enhanced quality of life, increased creative activity, a distinct sense of place, and vibrant local economies that together capitalize on their existing assets. The NEA defines these efforts as the process of Creative Placemaking:
Through Our Town, subject to the availability of funding, the National Endowment for the Arts will provide a limited number of grants, ranging from $25,000 to $200,000, for creative placemaking projects that contribute toward the livability of communities and help transform them into lively, beautiful, and sustainable places with the arts at their core. Our Town will invest in creative and innovative projects in which communities, together with their arts and design organizations and artists, seek to:
Through Our Town projects, the NEA intends to achieve the following outcome: Livability: American communities are strengthened through the arts. See "Intended NEA Outcome" for more details.
A key to the success of creative placemaking is involving the arts in partnership with committed governmental and private sector leadership. All Our Town applications must reflect a partnership that will provide leadership for the project. These partnerships must involve two primary partners: a nonprofit organization and a local government entity. One of the two primary partners must be a cultural (arts or design) organization.
Additional partners are encouraged and may include an appropriate variety of entities such as state level government agencies, foundations, arts organizations and artists, nonprofit organizations, design professionals and design centers, educational institutions, real estate developers, business leaders, and community organizations, as well as public and governmental entities.
You may find it helpful to contact your local arts agency as you begin the process within your community.
The Arts Endowment plans to support a variety of diverse projects across the country in urban and rural communities of all sizes. Please review the list of grants on our website to see the types of projects that have been funded recently through Our Town and the related Mayors' Institute on City Design 25th Anniversary Initiative.
Our Town projects should represent the distinct character and quality of their communities and must reflect the following principles:
Projects may include arts engagement, cultural planning, and design activities such as:
We understand that creative placemaking projects are often multi-year, large-scale initiatives. Please specify in your application which phase or phases of your project are included in your request for NEA funding. All phases of a project -- except for construction, purchase, or renovation of facilities as noted below -- are eligible for support. All costs included in your Project Budget must be expended within your period of support.
Funding under Our Town is not available for:
Note: The Grants for Arts Projects guidelines provide additional information on what we do not fund.
Through Our Town projects, the Arts Endowment intends to achieve the following outcome from our strategic plan: Livability: American communities are strengthened through the arts.
The anticipated long-term results for Livability projects are measurable community benefits, such as growth in overall levels of social and civic engagement; arts- or design-focused changes in policies, laws, and/or regulations; job and/or revenue growth for the community; or changes in in-and-out migration patterns. You will be asked to address the anticipated results in your application. If you receive a grant, you will be asked to provide evidence of those results at the end of your project. Given the nature of Livability projects, benefits are likely to emerge over time and may not be fully measureable during the period of a grant. You will need to provide evidence of progress toward achieving improved livability as appropriate to the project. Before applying, please review the reporting requirements for Livability. We recognize that some projects involve risk, and we want to hear about both your successes and failures. Failures can provide valuable learning experiences, and reporting them will have no effect on your ability to receive NEA funds in the future.
Beyond the reporting requirements for all grantees, selected Our Town grantees may be asked to assist in the collection of additional information that can help the NEA determine the degree to which agency objectives were achieved. For example, Our Town grantees may be asked to participate in surveys or interviews, and/or may be asked to assist in publicizing and promoting these data collection efforts. You may be contacted to provide evidence of project accomplishments including, but not limited to, work samples, community action plans, cultural asset studies, programs, reviews, relevant news clippings, and playbills. Please remember that you are required to maintain project documentation for three years following submission of your final report.
We may publish grantees' reports and products on our website. Please note that all federal grantmaking agencies retain a royalty-free right to use all or a portion of grantees' reports and products for federal purposes.
You are required to submit your application electronically through Grants.gov, the federal government's online application system. The Grants.gov system must receive your validated and accepted application no later than 11:59 p.m., Eastern Time, on January 14, 2013. We strongly recommend that you submit at least 10 days in advance of the deadline to give yourself ample time to resolve any problems that you might encounter. We will not accept late applications.
The Grants.gov Contact Center is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
National Endowment for the Arts · an independent federal agency
Director's Welcome (video)
Creative Placemaking (pdf)
2011 & 2012 grants (by type)