State arts agencies hold a vision of an arts sector that is diverse, equitable, inclusive and accessible to all. But we recognize that many of the legacy systems that undergird our work present obstacles to communities seeking support. To dismantle these barriers, state arts agencies have adopted various policies, programs and funding practices to improve equity and accessibility. The materials offered below illustrate a wide range of approaches. Because equity is a long-term goal, this body of practice is constantly evolving and expanding. Consult NASAA’s State to State archive and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion resources hub for additional information.
Funding Choice Points is a self-assessment tool is designed to help state arts agencies reduce barriers to arts funding and continually improve the systems used to distribute grant dollars. Last updated in 2024, this in-depth guide critiques grant-making practices common to federal, state and local arts agencies. It offers questions for reflection along with examples of grant policies and programs gleaned from more than 20 states. Funding Choice Points can help agencies take a deep dive into their grant guidelines, eligibility criteria, application systems, adjudication practices, program evaluation and more.
A companion piece to Funding Choice Points, Facilitating Access to Arts Funds presents a concise summary of steps state arts agencies have taken to adopt accessible and fair funding systems that respond to community needs, welcome new applicants, and ensure that funding opportunities are available to underserved communities. It highlights grants policy trends that NASAA observed across the nation as of early 2024 in a brief format suitable for multiple audiences. Facilitating Access to Arts Funds can help individual state arts agencies place their work in a broader national context.
The Equity GAP Project was a partnership between NASAA and the Ohio Arts Council (OAC). Launched in 2022, it examined arts funding patterns in Ohio and helped the OAC work toward its ongoing goal of making arts funding more accessible to all Ohio communities. This initiative also served as a demonstration project to attune equity assessment approaches to the unique roles and needs of government arts funders. A suite of reports describes the assessment methods, salient findings and action recommendations.
In Pursuit of Equity describes how state arts agencies in four states—California, Maryland, Massachusetts and South Carolina—have integrated equity principles across multiple aspects of their work. This volume includes information on equity-centered planning, partnerships, grant making and programming, communications tactics, and managing change. Based on in-depth interviews, this research report is the first in a three-part series of publications produced in collaboration with the Washington State Arts Commission.
Deepening Relationships with Diverse Communities explores ways that state arts agencies can develop authentic and meaningful relationships with communities that have experienced limited access to state arts agency support in the past. These relationships, in turn, can inform the design of more equitable and inclusive state arts agency services. The report provides tips on initiating contact, establishing trust, redesigning grants and shared decision making. It was produced in collaboration with the Washington State Arts Commission.
Public art or percent for art policies are present in more than half of states and jurisdictions, but little research has been conducted on the equity aspects of these state level programs. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in State Arts Agency Public Art Programs begins to address this need, offering an assessment of salient equity related challenges and solutions. Included are recommendations for diversifying artist rosters, making calls for entry more accessible and engaging communities in public art projects. The report was produced in collaboration with the Washington State Arts Commission.
NASAA is developing recommendations to help state arts agencies develop deeper relationships with Native organizations, Indigenous artists/culture bearers and tribal governments. Such relationships can, in turn, inform programs and services that are responsive to the needs of Native communities. The emerging Strengthening State Arts Agency Relationships with Native Communities initiative is led by an Indigenous circle of advisors.