New NEA Report Examines Values and Needs of Artists

nea 50th logoDuring the 2016 National Association of State Arts Agencies Assembly September 13-17, members of the Ohio Arts Council staff were introduced to Creativity Connects: Trends and Conditions Affecting U.S. Artists. This new report from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) includes the launch of an interactive graphic and resources for next steps. The media release below was produced by the NEA and we encourage you to dive into the results.


CONTACTVictoria Hutter | National Endowment for the Arts 

Image: NEA Chairman Jane Chu with OAC Executive Director Donna Collins at the NASAA Assembly on September 16, 2016.

donna collins with jane chuWashington, DC—Addressing the needs of artists in a world of accelerating change is the focus of a new report launched by the National Endowment for the Arts as part of the NEA Chairman’s 50th anniversary Creativity Connects initiative. Creativity Connects: Trends and Conditions Affecting U.S. Artists was produced in cooperation with the Center for Cultural Innovation. It examines issues familiar to the arts world such as funding and training, but also widens the lens to look at the effect of other forces shaping the work environment for artists including technology, the gig economy, student debt, and the growth of cross-disciplinary work.

Accompanying the report is a new ‘Bright Spots’ interactive graphic on the NEA website featuring resources and successful projects undertaken by partnerships of arts and non-arts organizations that demonstrate new ways in which creative people are working.


Chairman Chu said, “This report is practical and well-informed, providing insights and implications for action that together can advance our nation’s creative future. We thank the Center for Cultural Innovation for their work and look forward to sharing the report with our colleagues and those interested in welcoming artists to their sectors to share their creative practices and inspire innovation.”


Angie Kim, president and CEO of the Center for Cultural Innovation said that the Center, “is proud to partner with the National Endowment for the Arts on this seminal research. The arts sector is not alone in undergoing seismic shifts, but many of these shifts have opened up exciting new opportunities for artists to be at the center of social change."

Report Findings

The report is divided into three sections, each with its own set of conclusions.

  1. Shifts in the Artist Population and the Ways Artists Work
  2. Technology, Economics, Equity, and Training
  3. Implications of this Research 

As regards implications of the research, the report identifies five main goals that could improve conditions for artists.

  1. Articulate and measure the benefits of artists and creative work to societal health and well-being.
  2. Address artists’ income insecurity as a part of larger workforce efforts.
  3. Address artists’ student debt and help build their assets.
  4. Create 21st-century training systems.
  5. Upgrade systems and structures that support artists.


Report Background

The Creativity Connects report builds on a 2003 report by the Urban Institute, Investing in Creativity: A Study of the Support Structure for U.S. Artists led by current National Council on the Arts member Maria Rosario Jackson. Since its publication, Investing in Creativity has influenced the efforts of funders, policy makers, artist support organizations, scholars, and others interested in artists’ creative capacities and extending artists’ contributions across local, state and national levels.

But the world has changed significantly since 2003, and the purpose of the Creativity Connects: Trends and Conditions Affecting U.S. Artists is to present an updated picture of the world in which artists operate, and to offer suggestions for addressing the identified challenges to artists’ success.


To develop the report, CCI and NEA staff undertook extensive information-gathering and analysis over the past year and a half. This included conducting 65 in-depth interviews, convening 10 roundtables across the country, reviewing more than 300 documents, gathering more than 30 field experts to review the initial findings, and commissioning 18 online essays written by leaders in the field and available at and on the NEA website

Creativity Connects Bright Spots Digital Graphic

The main feature of the Bright Spots digital graphic are interactive elements that allows users to select an arts and non-arts sector to find successful projects, or bright spots that take place at the intersection of two seemingly different industries. For example, by selecting multidisciplinary arts plus business, users can find COCABiz in University City, Missouri, an organization that provides immersive arts-based training, programming, and consulting for business professionals. The Bright Spots digital graphic and other resources including Arts And fact sheets offer information to help users envision, develop, describe, and measure cross-sector projects.

Next Steps

The US Regional Arts Organizations (RAOs) with generous support from the Mellon Foundation recently announced Creativity Connects: National Demonstration Projects. These six projects, one from each of the six RAOs, reflect the cross-sector emphasis of Creativity Connects, investigating ways that the arts work with education, healthcare, and social justice among other non-arts fields.  The six RAOs are Arts Midwest, Mid-America Arts Alliance, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, New England Foundation for the Arts, South Arts, and Western States Art Federation.


In addition, the NEA will announce its own set of Creativity Connects grants in December 2016.


Other ways that the NEA will respond to the implications cited in the report include:

  • Partnerships: Supporting the work of our partners such as the state arts agencies as they prepare their own roundtables.
  • Research: The report identified areas for future research which the NEA’s Office of Research and Analysis will use to select new projects to pursue.
  • Convening: On Friday, November 18, the NEA will host a national convening, In Pursuit of the Creative Life: the Future of Arts and Creativity in America at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC featuring artists, arts leaders, and creative thinkers from around the country. Portions of the event will be live-streamed. More information will be available in October.

Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the National Endowment for the Arts and the agency is celebrating this milestone with events and activities through 2016. Go to to enjoy art stories from around the nation, peruse Facts & Figures, and check out the anniversary timeline. 

Center for Cultural Innovation promotes knowledge sharing, networking and financial independence for individual artists and creative entrepreneurs by providing business training, grants and incubating innovative projects that create new program knowledge, tools and practices for artists in the field. For more information about CCI, please visit

The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Connect with the OAC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website at



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