Slidecast: Introducing the State Arts Agencies and NASAA
This two-minute overview describes the work of state arts agencies and NASAA's role as their professional organization.

Does every state have a state arts agency?

All 50 states and the six U.S. jurisdictions (American Samoa, District of Columbia, Guam, Northern Marianas, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) have state arts agencies. Visit NASAA's state arts agency directory to learn more about your own state arts agency.

What do state arts agencies do?

State arts agencies increase public access to the arts and work to ensure that every community in America enjoys the cultural, civic, economic and educational benefits of a thriving arts sector. To do this, state arts agencies:

  • provide grant funding for artists, arts institutions, schools and community groups;
  • offer training and information that strengthens the management and entrepreneurial skills of artists and arts organizations;
  • support in- and out-of-school arts activities for young people;
  • lead special initiatives to foster economic and civic development through the arts;
  • advance arts education through teacher training, curriculum development and assessment projects;
  • conduct research that documents the impact of the arts;
  • educate the public about the essential role of the arts in American life;
  • preserve and celebrate the unique cultural traditions of each state;
  • recognize and promote artistic achievement.

How does the public benefit?

State arts agency programs drive business development, improve the effectiveness of schools, enhance a state's competitive edge and contribute to community livability. Such benefits accrue to all residents of a state, beyond artists and arts attendees. The inclusive policies of state arts agencies ensure that all areas—not just urban or wealthy areas—receive the civic, educational and economic advantages that the arts provide. Learn more by reading Why Should Government Support the Arts?

How can I apply for state arts agency funding?

Every state arts agency offers a unique combination of grants and services for artists, arts organizations, schools and community groups. Get started by learning about the programs your state arts agency offers and considering how your goals and your agency's goals are a good match. NASAA's state arts agency directory has contact and website information to help you begin. Taking the time to talk with your state arts agency's knowledgeable staff will start you on the path for applying for funding.

How long have state arts agencies existed?

Although a few states, such as Utah and New York, established arts agencies at earlier dates, most state arts agencies were created shortly after Congress established the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in 1965. When it created the NEA, Congress required the new agency to apportion funds to any state that established an arts agency. Within a few years, nearly every state had a state arts agency.

Does the National Endowment for the Arts continue to support state arts agencies?

The NEA is required by law to allocate 40% of its grant funds to states and regions. State arts agencies use these dollars to leverage matching funds, to address local needs and to expand the reach and impact of federal arts funding across the country.

How are state arts agencies funded?

Most of the funds available to state arts agencies come from annual or biennial appropriations from their state legislatures. State arts agencies also receive support from the NEA, as well as from other government sources. Some state arts agencies also receive private funding through grants, contributions or earned income.

How is the public involved?

Each agency is governed by a council or commission comprised of citizen leaders who are appointed by the governor or state legislature. These councils oversee state arts agencies' policies and programs. The public is also extensively involved in state arts agency planning, grant review panels and community meetings to discuss the arts and local needs. Many citizens participate in arts advocacy activities that promote the importance of the arts to community leaders and elected officials.

Where can I learn more?

To explore examples of how state arts agencies work to improve the quality of life in the United States, visit NASAA's Creative Economic Development page. For more information on state arts agency funding and grant making, download NASAA's latest State Arts Agency Grant Making and Funding summary.

NASAA's mission is to strengthen state arts agencies.
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