NEA Imagine Your Parks

Taiko Dojo performers at Lowell Folk Festival. Credit Jen Myers
Taiko Dojo performers dazzle at the Lowell Folk Festival.

Jen Myers

The National Park Service partnered with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) on a special arts grant initiative that has been jointly celebrating the 50th anniversary of the NEA in 2015 and the centennial anniversary of the NPS in 2016. The initiative, entitled "Imagine Your Parks," unites the missions of the two agencies to promote and protect the nation's cultural and natural treasures. The grants also build on A Call to Action's Arts Afire action item (#10) as well as the success of the NPS Artist-in-Residence program.

"Imagine Your Parks"—a national centennial program—provided grant funding through the NEA Art Works grant category to NPS external partners or organizations using the arts, in all forms, to connect people with the National Park System and its programs. This category of NEA grants was awarded to any type of NPS partner organization, but not individuals or directly to the NPS. The program was designed with maximum flexibility, allowing projects in all art disciplines to be considered for funding. Projects were not required to take place in a national park.

Applications were accepted in two rounds in 2015 and the the first round of awards was announced in December 2015. The second round was announced in May 2016. Applicants were encouraged to create projects that promote public engagement in urban environments, or that engage younger generations with the National Park System.

Past NEA grants involving national parks ranged from supporting traditional Appalachian folk music and dance at the Blue Ridge Music Center in Galax, Virginia (part of the NPS Blue Ridge Parkway), to helping artists create new work at the Headlands Center for the Arts at historic Fort Barry at Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The NPS Arts in the Parks website features examples of how parks and partners are creatively engaging young people and audiences of all ages through the arts.