NEA Research Labs

Funding Agency:
National Endowment for the Arts

The NEA Research Labs program funds transdisciplinary research teams grounded in the social and behavioral sciences, yielding empirical insights about the arts for the benefit of arts and non-arts sectors alike.

Established in FY 2017, the NEA Research Labs continue to build public knowledge about the arts and their contributions to individuals, communities, and society at large. Through this program, we are cultivating transdisciplinary research partnerships that are producing research findings and evidence-based tools of value not only to arts practitioners, but also to non-arts sectors such as healthcare, education, and business or management. Institutions of higher education and/or nonprofit research and policy organizations may submit applications to be NEA Research Labs.

The NEA Research Labs program offers grant funding for longer-term research agendas. These agendas will include multiple research studies and activities that build and inform the field throughout the life of an NEA Research Lab. Applicants seeking grant funding for a specific and discrete research study should refer to the Research Grants in the Arts program guidelines.

As in previous years, we welcome applications from diverse research fields (e.g., economics; psychology; education; sociology; medicine, health, and therapy; communications; business administration; urban and regional planning). We expect our total awards portfolio to be diverse in terms of geographical distribution, the artistic and research fields or disciplines involved, and the research topics proposed. We also expect our portfolio to reflect an array of study design characteristics.

Accordingly, applicants may propose research projects drawing from a range of study design types. In recent years, the NEA has supported a growing cohort of studies that hypothesize a cause-effect relationship between the arts and key outcomes of interest (e.g., in health, education, or the economy). For projects seeking to explore causal claims about the arts, experimental approaches (e.g., randomized controlled trials) are generally preferred. Where experimental approaches are not feasible, then high-quality, quasi-experimental design studies offer an attractive alternative for impact studies about the arts.

In many cases, however, other or different study design characteristics will be preferable. These designs may include, but are not limited to, case studies, complex surveys, mixed methods, and meta-analyses. In particular, we encourage community-based participatory research approaches where warranted by the research objective. Program evaluations also are eligible for funding.

The NEA research agenda states that, through such awards, the agency will “incentivize the creation of practitioner tools grounded in research.” In keeping with this aim, we especially welcome translational research that moves scientific evidence toward the development, testing, and standardization of new arts-related programs, practices, models, or tools that can be used easily by other practitioners and researchers. This function is especially important to NEA Research Labs, which should be prepared to contribute products and services not only for the research community but for practitioners in the arts and other sectors.

Deadline: March 27, 2023

Agency Website

Areas of Interest

Each NEA Research Lab will design a transdisciplinary research agenda, conduct project activities to execute that agenda, and prepare and disseminate reports and other products or services that will contribute substantively to a wider understanding of one of the following research areas of special interest to the NEA:

  1. Measuring the Impacts of the Arts:

    1. On U.S. Economic Growth, and/or Innovation
    2. On Cognition and Learning
    3. On Health and Wellness for Individuals
  2. Monitoring and Improving Systems:

    1. Community Health and/or Revitalization
    2. Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in the Arts
    3. Other Aspects of the Arts Ecology

These research areas correspond with priority topics and related questions identified in the NEA’s research agenda for FY 2022-2026. Applicants are strongly urged to consult the agenda for detailed descriptions of each priority topic and for related sample questions.

Eligibility Requirements

The official applicant must be an organization with research and policy as a principal focus for its core components, either as the primary work or as part of a transdisciplinary mission. Eligible official applicants are:

  • U.S. institutions of higher education, or
  • Nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3), U.S. organizations with a three-year history of commissioning and conducting research in the behavioral or social sciences, and communicating research findings and policy implications through reports and/or convenings, at the time of application.

An organization may submit more than one application under these NEA Research Labs guidelines. In each case, the request must be for a distinctly different project. However, an organization will not receive more than one new NEA Research Labs award.

Amount Description

Grants will range from $100,000 to $150,000, based on the availability of funding.

Grants cannot exceed 50% of the total cost of the project. All grants require a nonfederal cost share/match of at least 1 to 1. These cost share/matching funds may be all cash or a combination of cash and in-kind contributions, and can include federally-negotiated indirect costs. You may include in your Project Budget cost share/matching funds that are proposed but not yet committed at the time of the application deadline.

Applicants whose projects are recommended for less than the requested amount will have the opportunity to revise the project budget to reflect any necessary changes to the project, based on the recommended funding amount.

Funding Type





Arts & Humanities
Community Outreach and Engagement
Curriculum Development
Medical - Basic Science
Medical - Clinical Science
Social Sciences

External Deadline

March 27, 2023