The guiding principle of "Art Works" is at the center of everything we do at the NEA. "Art Works" refers to three things: the works of art themselves, the ways art works on audiences, and the fact that art is work for the artists and arts professionals who make up the field.
Art works by enhancing the value of individuals and communities, by connecting us to each other and to something greater than ourselves, and by empowering creativity and innovation in our society and economy. The arts exist for beauty itself, but they also are an inexhaustible source of meaning and inspiration.
The NEA recognizes these catalytic effects of excellent art, and the key role that arts and design organizations play in revitalizing them. To deepen and extend the arts' value, including their ability to foster new connections and to exemplify creativity and innovation, we welcome projects that:
- Are likely to prove transformative with the potential for meaningful change, whether in the development or enhancement of new or existing art forms, new approaches to the creation or presentation of art, or new ways of engaging the public with art;
- Are distinctive, offering fresh insights and new value for their fields and/or the public through unconventional solutions; and
- Have the potential to be shared and/or emulated, or are likely to lead to other advances in the field.
Beyond encouraging projects that demonstrate these characteristics, we want to achieve the following four objectives through the Art Works category:
- Creation: The creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence,
- Engagement: Public engagement with diverse and excellent art,
- Learning: Lifelong learning in the arts, and
- Livability: The strengthening of communities through the arts.