The Nevada Arts Council (NAC) is a state agency charged with the mission "to enrich the cultural life of the state through leadership that preserves, supports, strengthens, and makes excellence in the arts accessible to all Nevadans." The NAC is an agency of the Nevada Department of Cultural Affairs and has offices in Carson City and Las Vegas.
The NAC was founded in 1967 as part of the movement by the newly formed National Endowment for the Arts to establish arts councils in every state. The offices were originally in Reno, and the Arts Council was an independent agency under the governor's office. In 1993 the NAC's offices moved to Carson City, when the state organized the Department of Cultural Affairs, which, in addition to the Arts Council, included the divisions of Museums and History, Historic Preservation, and the State Library and Archives. The NAC is funded primarily by state funds and by an annual partnership grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
The NAC has over a dozen staff members and a board of directors who are appointed by the governor. The agency's five main program areas are grants, community arts development, arts in education, folklife, and artist services.
Grant funding is available for organizations and individual artists through a number of focused programs. Established nonprofit arts and cultural organizations, public institutions, and community organizations may apply for support of ongoing operations and special projects, which may include performance seasons, exhibits, festivals, readings, design projects, and workshops. Most of these categories have annual deadlines, and applications are reviewed by panels of experts from within and outside the state. Smaller grants in the Jackpot category are awarded quarterly and can be used for sudden opportunities and small projects; organizations and individuals are both eligible.
Individual artists can also apply for Artist Fellowship grants, which provide money to help them pursue their work and develop their careers. Visual artists may apply to have their work included on one of the agency's several exhibition programs, showing in the NAC's offices, at the State Legislature building during legislative sessions, and as part of the Traveling Exhibition Program. A visual artist is also selected each year to create artworks given to recipients of Governor's Arts Awards. Writers who have received fellowships can join the roster for the Tumblewords Program, which sponsors readings and workshops in communities statewide.
Traditional and folk artists, who have learned their art form through membership in a community, whether it be ethnic, occupational, tribal, or religious, are supported through apprenticeship grants to teach and pass on their art. Traditional artists and groups are also eligible for Folklife Opportunity Grants for organizations, professional development grants, and, starting in 2010, Nevada Heritage Awards. There is also a roster of traditional artists who are available for school residencies and community programs.
The NAC's Arts Education Program supports lifelong learning in the arts by funding school-based projects and artist residencies, and by funding community arts learning opportunities sponsored by a range of organizations and public agencies. The program also organizes Nevada's Poetry Out Loud competition, an NEA-sponsored initiative for high school students to memorize and perform great poetry. The state's winner goes to Washington, D.C., to compete in a national Poetry Out Loud competition. Nevada also has a specialized arts license plate, a portion of the fee for which goes to support arts education programs at the NAC and VSA arts of Nevada.
The Community Arts Development Program supports local arts agencies in communities all over Nevada, helping them develop their organizational structures, boards, fundraising activities, and programming. Funding is available for organizational stabilization, consultation with an arts administration professional from the NAC's Circuit Riders roster, attendance at professional development conferences, and performances of significant music, dance, or theater pieces through the American Masters Program. The Community Arts Development Program also coordinates the Nevada Presenters Network of arts organizations presenting touring performing artists, and facilitates a quarterly teleconference to allow those groups to communicate about their plans and coordinate block booking.
All of the agency's programs include extensive hands-on help by staff, in-person grant writing workshops, technical assistance, occasional meetings of interest groups, and consultation on individual needs. The agency publishes a quarterly newsletter, Nevada Arts News, which is available on their website, and organizes Oasis, a semiannual conference.
Governor's Arts Awards are given annually to artists and other individuals and organizations who do exemplary work and support the arts in Nevada through their work, service, and financial support. Categories for the awards include Excellence in the Arts, Excellence in Folk and Traditional Arts, Leadership in Art Education, Leadership in the Arts for Individuals and Organizations, and Patronage in the Arts. The awards are presented at a public ceremony, and each recipient receives an original piece of art created for the occasion by a Nevada artist.