September 25, 2012

From GRC GrantWeek: Where’s NEA Going? There’s a Map for That

In a move that signals growing rigor and a closer alignment with scientific research agencies, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has released a five-year research agenda, system map, and measurement model. GRC strongly encourages members to review the report on these developments, “How Art Works,” which was officially released at American University on September 20, 2012.

GRC was there as NEA chairman Rocco Landesman described the agency’s efforts to both map the system and tell the story of how art works. The map is the result of a series of community engagement activities designed “to develop a common view of the relationship between art and individual and community outcomes.” Landesman admits that it is “both too complex and too simple but,” nonetheless, “useful.” The map provides what Keats called “negative capability,” or the ability to imagine a system without having to resolve apparently contradictory aspects. Questions such as “what is art?” are intentionally left unanswered, as NEA encourages arts researchers to map everything from Kanye West to a visit to the Met.

Instead, the intention is to explore the interplay among arts participation and creation; the artist, the artwork, and audience; how arts participation influences the lives of individuals and their communities; and how individuals and their communities influence artists and their work.

Sunil Iyengar, director of the NEA Office of Research and Analysis, believes the most significant change over the next five years will be the shift from inductive to deductive arts research, with the expectation that awardees will make explicit connections between NEA-funded research and the public good.

Download the full report and listen to the recording of the September 20 event online.

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