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NEA Announces Challenge America Fast-Track grants

The National Endowment for the Arts Challenge America Fast-Track (CAFT) program supports projects from primarily small and mid-sized arts organizations that extend the reach of the arts to underserved audiences—those whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability. Chairman Landesman announced today that 162 Challenge America grants totaling $1,620,000 will be awarded to organizations in 46 states, plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Challenge America Fast-Track grants are all $10,000 and receive expedited application review. Organizations are notified approximately six months after they apply with the possibility to start a project shortly after notification. For smaller organizations that operate on compressed timeframes, having an expedited review (in addition to competing for grant dollars with organizations of similar size) enhances their access to federal funding.

“Taken together, these Challenge America Fast-Track grants provide an extraordinary sampling of the work that arts organizations do to reach underserved communities,” said Chairman Rocco Landesman. “With these grants, we are helping to ensure that art works for all Americans.”

Along with not-for-profit arts organizations, grantees in this announcement include a community housing authority, municipal tourism department, state mining and technology institute, and social service agency—all using the arts to engage audiences and make their communities more livable. In addition, among the 162 grantees, 47 or about 30 percent are first-time grantees to the NEA, a significant number that demonstrates the program’s important gateway role.

Examples of projects supported in this round of Challenge American Fast-Track are:

  • Abilene Arts Alliance in Abilene, Texas to support Artfully Abilene, a cultural tourism initiative designed to increase awareness among residents and visitors of the range of cultural activities in the metro area.
  • The Mimbres Region Arts Council in Silver City, New Mexico to support the Youth Mural Program, pairing young people with professional artists to create murals that express the culture and history of the Grant County region.
  • Pro Musica of Joplin, Missouri to support a residency by the Cavani String Quartet featuring a public concert and lecture-demonstrations for Joplin public schools students.

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