NEA Our Town Program, Deadline Jan. 13


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:

  •     Improve their quality of life.
  •     Encourage greater creative activity.
  •     Foster stronger community identity and a sense of place.
  •     Revitalize economic development.


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, as defined by these guidelines. One of the two primary partners must be a cultural (arts or design) organization. The highest ranking official of the local government is required to submit a formal endorsement letter designating the project as the only one being submitted for the local government. 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.

Our Town projects should represent the distinct character and quality of their communities and must reflect the following principles:

  •     A systemic approach to civic development and a persuasive vision for enhanced community livability.
  •     Clearly defined civic development goals and objectives that recognize and enhance the role that the arts and design play at the center of community life.
  •     An action plan aligned with the project vision and civic development goals.
  •     A funding plan that is appropriate, feasible, indicates strong and wide community support, and includes a well-conceived strategy for maintaining the work of the project.
  •     Artistic excellence of the design and/or arts organizations, designers, or artists involved with the project.

Projects may include arts engagement, cultural planning, and design activities such as:

  • Arts Engagement
  • Arts engagement projects support artistically excellent artistic production or practice as the focus of creative placemaking work.
  • Innovative programming that fosters interaction among community members, arts organizations, and artists, or activates existing cultural and community assets.
  • Festivals and performances in spaces not normally used for such purposes.
  • Public art that improves public spaces and strategically reflects or shapes the physical and social character of a community.

Cultural Planning

Cultural planning projects support the development of artistically excellent local support systems necessary for creative placemaking to succeed.

  •     Creative asset mapping.
  •     Cultural district planning.
  •     The development of master plans or community-wide strategies for public art.
  •     Support for creative entrepreneurship.
  •     Creative industry cluster/hub development.


Design projects that demonstrate artistic excellence while supporting the development of environments where creative placemaking takes place, or where the identity of place is created or reinforced.

  •     Design of rehearsal, studio, or live/work spaces for artists.
  •     Design of cultural spaces – new or adaptive reuse.
  •     Design of public spaces, e.g., parks, plazas, landscapes, neighborhoods, districts, infrastructure, bridges, and artist-produced elements of streetscapes. Community engagement activities including design charrettes, design competitions, and community design workshops.

When eligible, previous Our Town grantees and their communities may apply to Our Town for a distinctly different project, or a distinctly different phase of the project, from that which was funded.

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 those for facilities noted below — are eligible for support. The NEA reserves the right to limit its support of a project to a particular phase(s) or cost(s). All costs included in your Project Budget must be expended during your period of support.

If relevant to your project, you will be required to provide information in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act and/or the National Historic Preservation Act.

Contact us for more information!

NEA Our Town Program, Deadline Jan. 13

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