The National Endowment for the Arts believes that, in spite of what Roger Ebert has to say on the matter, video games can be art. The government agency has transformed its Arts on Radio and Television grant program into Arts in Media, expanding the guidelines of the category to include digital games. The NEA, an independent agency of the U.S. government formed in 1965, has awarded more than 128,000 grants in its history, providing over $4 billion in funding for “projects exhibiting artistic excellence.”
While it continues to support funding content for radio and television through its Arts in Media grant, the NEA, which supplies government funding for art projects or projects dealing with the arts, recently replaced its “The Arts on Radio and Television” guidelines with “The Arts in Media.” This means the NEA will now consider digital games and web content for government funding, placing them in the same ranks astraditional film, theater, and other art forms.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that any game developer can apply for funding. According to the NEA website, “Eligible applicants are nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3), U.S. organizations.” Most mainstream video game developers are not non-profit organizations; this funding is aimed at developers interested in advancing the arts and not their bank accounts. So, If you’ve got an artistic video game in mind, the Arts in Media grant could provide you with anywhere from
$10,000 to $200,000 in funding, based on the complexity of your submission. Does this put an end to the “games as art” discussion?
To get the full rundown on submission guidelines, head on over to NEA.gov.