NEA Photography Grants Help Page
The grants database is best viewed on a desktop or laptop computer. Some or all of the search and sorting functions may not be available on a tablet or phone.
What is it?
The NEA photography grants databse is a record of grants and fellowships given by the U.S. National Endowment for the Arts primarily for photography-related projects, including support for individual photographers, photography organizations, museum and gallery exhibitions, community projects about and displays of photography, photographic residencies, books, and scholarly research about photography. It's of use primarily to researchers who want an overview of the amounts and kinds of support the NEA has provided for photography.
What's in it?
This is an extensive list from 1968 through 2016, but I don't claim that it's comprehensive. The NEA maintains an online database of grants awarded since 1998, but prior to that the only published information about their grants is in their annual reports. The reports are the source for the grants listed in this list.
During the 1970s and the early part of the '80s, these reports provided a bare minimum of information about the grants. Often there was just a grant category listed, such as "Museum Purchase Grants", and a listing of institutions that were given grants in that category. Project descriptions or other details about individual grants did not appear in the annual reports until after 1977.
Given these limitations, in the early reports I was able to do only a basic keyword search for the terms "photograph" or "camera". These searches turned up organizations that had those words in their title, but it's very likely that some grants went to art museums or other institutions for photography projects that the search could not find.
What's not in it?
I did not list grants for which photography was only one of several aspects of the grant. For example, some grants were awarded to museums of organizations for general art programs that included "painting, drawing, sculpture, photography and other art programs." It it impossible to say how much, if any, of the grant funding was designated for photography, and therefore I omitted these grants from the list. On average, there were about a dozen of these kinds of grants every year.
How is the database organized?
The database consists of a single table containing only six fields. This makes it very easy to browse, search or filter. The field names are Year, Recipient, City, State, Amount, and Project. All amounts are listed in U.S. dollars.
The default order of the database is by Year (descending chronological), then by first name of the Recipient (alphabetical). Names of individuals and organizations are mixed together in the Recipents field.
You can sort, filter and search all of the information in the database as you like. Click on the clearly labeled icons at the top to rearrange the data as you wish. For example, if you're looking for individual photographers who were awarded an NEA Fellowship, click on the Filter icon, and click Add a Filter. In the line that says Where, change Year to Project. Then in the blank field after Contains, type in "Fellowhip". You will immediately see all of the grants that went to fellowships. You can further filter this selection by clicking again on the Add a Filter line below the existing filter, and add a name, years, city or state. The process is very intuitive, but if you have any problems please let me know.
Feel free to use this data any way that is helpful to you. If you're doing a lot of research, I recommend downloading the entire dataset for use in a spreadsheet (click on the More icon at the top of the window).
If you have suggestions about ways to improve the organization of the database or if you know of grants or awards that are not included in the database, please let me know. I welcome all suggestions.