RESEARCH GRANTS IN THE ARTS (Grants to Research Value and Impact of the Arts)

Funding Agency:
National Endowment for the Arts

Nearly a decade ago, the National Endowment for the Arts' Office of Research & Analysis published a five-year research agenda, supported by a system map and measurement model to guide the Agency’s research program. Titled How Art Works, the report provided a framework for studying research topics critical to a broader public understanding of the arts' value and/or impact for individuals and communities.

In December 2016, the Arts Endowment’s research office updated its five-year agenda for 2017-2021, which reflects a tighter focus on Arts Participation and Arts/Cultural Assets as essential research topics. Arts Participation, in the updated agenda, remains inclusive of various modes of participation and specific arts activities. These modes are: attending arts events; reading literature; creating or performing art; consuming art via electronic media; and learning in the arts. Arts/Cultural Assets denotes artists and arts workers, arts venues and platforms, and arts organizations and industries. We are interested in research seeking to identify and to examine:

  • Factors that enhance or inhibit Arts Participation or Arts/Cultural Assets;
  • Detailed characteristics of Arts Participation or Arts/Cultural Assets, and their interrelationships;
  • Individual-level outcomes of Arts Participation, specifically outcomes corresponding with the following domains:
    • social and emotional well-being
    • creativity, cognition, and learning
    • physiological processes of health and healing; and
  • Societal or community-level outcomes of Arts/Cultural Assets, specifically outcomes corresponding with the following domains:
    • civic and corporate innovation
    • attraction for neighborhoods and businesses
    • national and/or state-level economic growth

The 2017-2021 research agenda offers guidance on the types of study questions and topics that continue to appeal to the agency’s long-term research goals.

Regarding the types of studies to be undertaken, funds will be given for projects that involve analyses of primary and/or secondary data. Projects may include, but are not limited to, primary and/or secondary data analyses; economic impact studies; organizational research; psychological and physical health-related or therapeutic studies that take place in clinical or non-clinical settings; education studies in a variety of contexts (e.g., classrooms, informal venues, distance learning, or home-school environments); third-party evaluations of an arts program's effectiveness and impact; and statistically-driven meta-analyses of existing research so as to provide a fresh understanding of the value and/or impact of the arts. We also are interested in 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.

Primary data collection is an allowable activity under these grants, as long as a proposed project also includes analysis of the data. We will not fund projects that focus exclusively on data acquisition.

Deadline: Oct. 3, 2019

Agency Website

Areas of Interest

Track One: Value and Impact

Some of the most compelling research about the arts has originated in non-arts specialties: labor economics, for example, with its lessons about the arts' impact on national and local productivity; cognitive neuroscience, with its discoveries about the arts' role in shaping human development and learning-related outcomes; urban planning work that seeks to understand the arts as a marker of community vitality; and psychological or physical health-related or therapeutic studies that posit the arts' relationship to individual well-being. We encourage applications from diverse research fields (e.g., economics, psychology, education, sociology, medicine and health, communications, and urban and regional planning) in addition to projects that address a diverse array of topics concerning the value and/or impact of the arts.

For this Track, priority will be given to projects that present theory-driven and evidence-based research questions and methodologies that will yield important information about the value and/or impact of the arts on individuals and communities, and/or that use novel and promising research approaches, such as rigorous analyses of organizational or social networks and/or social media data.

Dosage studies or comparison studies of arts interventions are eligible projects under Track One. However, projects that intend to test causal or inferred-causal impacts of arts interventions, by using at least one arts group and at least one non-arts group, should apply to Track Two instead.

Track Two: Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Designs

Historically, there has been a lack of reliable information on causal links between the arts and individual or community outcomes. Particularly in assessing the effects of a program, policy, or practice (referred to here as an "intervention"), more rigorous methods are needed to isolate—to the greatest extent possible—the impacts of the intervention from those associated with other influences (e.g., geographic or temporal factors, or pre-existing differences between participants and non-participants). For questions of causality, experimental approaches such as randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are generally preferred. When experimental approaches are not feasible, high-quality, quasi-experimental design studies offer an attractive alternative.


Eligibility Requirements

Official applicant organizations must be nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3), U.S. organizations; units of state or local government; or federally recognized tribal communities or tribes. This may include, but is not limited to, colleges and universities

An organization may submit more than one application under these Research Grants in the Arts guidelines. In each case, the request must be for a distinctly different project.



Amount Description

All grants require a nonfederal match of at least 1 to 1. These 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 matching funds that are proposed but not yet committed at the time of the application deadline.

Funding Type





Arts & Humanities
Social Sciences

External Deadline

October 3, 2019