Applications for grants from the NEA go through three rounds of deliberation and are judged on the basis of artistic excellence and merit.
“You apply to the NEA to support specific projects. We wrote the grant project about the artist, content and importance of the project specifically,” said Peter Nisbet, interim director and chief curator at the Ackland.
A peer-reviewed panel comprised of museum directors, curators, arts educators and artists deliberates and recommends select applications to the National Council on the Arts. After reviewing specific projects, the panel sends its recommendations to the NEA chairman, who makes the final decision on all grant awards.
The exhibition will feature the work of Ronald Lockett, a late twentieth century artist from Bessemer, Alabama.
It will be accompanied by a volume of essays guest edited by American studies and folklore professor Bernard Herman.
Nisbet said the grant will not only help the museum put up the exhibition, but also help it become available and accessible to other museums.
The versatility of an exhibit is crucial to its outreach in the community, and the grants help make this possible, Nisbet said.
“I think it’s a great thing for the museum,” Nisbet said. “The grant from the NEA is kind of a validation; it’s sort of an objective seal of approval.”
This validation helps expand the capabilities of presenting art and creates more opportunities for future projects.
The funding for these grants is appropriated annually from Congress, and supports exhibitions like the one made by the Ackland.
Wendy Clark, the director of museums, visual arts and indemnity at the NEA said the grants are all matched at a one-to-one ratio.
“We don’t fund a whole project,” she said. “An applicant could ask for half of the exhibition costs and the other half they would show us that they’ve raised the money through other resources. Many private donations, a local corporation, prominent family foundation in the nation or the university might put up their own money.”
Clark explained that the NEA accepts applications from grants from all types of art museums in all regions.
“There’s plenty of museums in your region that get supported and all over the country — large and small,” she said.
Elizabeth Auclair, spokeswoman at the NEA, said past grants are public information and can be found in the NEA’s records.
The importance of the grants is evident by the opportunities they provide for the various museums and the work they support.
“It affects the future of the museum in the sense that it’s really good news and validates the quality of our work,” Nisbet said.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misspelled the name of Ackland Interim Director and Chief Curator Peter Nisbet. The story has been updated to reflect this change. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error.