While the National Endowment for the Arts (“NEA”) is traditionally known for providing grants for various “traditional” artistic endeavors, a recent change in its eligibility requirements expands its coverage to certain categories of digital media as well. Specifically, the NEA has modified its mandate to include providing grants for innovative work in the video game design field. Grants will be made available for the development, production, and national distribution of innovative video games about
the arts and video game projects that can be considered works of art on their own.
The eligibility changes are due in part to the NEA’s understanding that people can experience art in a number of ways outside traditional arts venues, including through video games. However, video games will need to comply with the same standard of artistic excellence and merit as works in any other medium. While those are somewhat subjective standards, the NEA has asserted that its panels will have knowledge and experience in the relevant field to judge any applicants.
Grants may range from $10,000 to $200,000 (or more in some extraordinary instances), based on the platform, complexity and scope of the project. However, applicants must be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit arts organization, or affiliated with one, to qualify for a grant of any size. The application deadline date is September 1, 2011, for projects that start on or after May 1, 2012.