Games for Change receives two grants from the NEA

We’re excited to share that Games for Change is slated to receive its first-ever support from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in their inaugural year of supporting games as an artistic medium. Since 1965, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities.

The NEA plans to award 928 grants totaling $77.17 million to not-for-profit organizations nationwide. These grants support exemplary projects in arts education, dance, design, folk and traditional arts, literature, local arts agencies, media arts, museums, music, opera, presenting, theater, musical theater, and visual arts while providing support to state arts agencies and regional arts organizations.

In May 2011, the NEA launched the Arts in Media grant program to recognize numerous digital fields which had not been previously eligible for consideration of support, including games, interactive websites, mobile phone and tablet apps, multimedia and transmedia (multi-platform storytelling) projects and those which will be seen in movie theaters.

NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman said, “While Americans across the country are experiencing art live and in person every day, NEA research has shown that more than half of American adults also consume the arts via electronic media. I am thrilled to announce these Arts in Media grants and look forward to the organizations’ efforts to reach ever wider audiences and create innovative new works of art.”

We are grateful to receive two separate grants. The first in the Art Works category (supporting the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and the strengthening of communities through the arts); the second in Arts in Media (supporting the development, production, and national distribution of innovative media projects that can be considered works of art).

Funding will acknowledge the long-standing work of the Games for Change Festival, an event which in 2011 achieved record attendance (800 in person / 10,000 via Livestream) and has served as a nexus for those interested and exploring what it means to design and publish games which catalyze social engagement. It also supports a new and ambitious transmedia project, Half the Sky, which we have shared frequently on the blog.

Our grant in the Art Works category will allow us to support, produce, and sustain the Facebook game for the Half the Sky games project done in partnership with authors of the best-seller by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn and executive producers, Show of Force. This grant will allow us the opportunity to move ahead with some of social gaming’s best experts to offer a cutting edge, online, social experience that turns game-play into real-world activism.

NEA support joins the recent and significant investment made by the Ford Foundation and the UN Foundation for the Facebook game. Collectively, these funders will now ensure that the Facebook game goes into production this summer and will be released in advance of the 2012 holidays and soon after the broadcast of the accompanying documentary which airs on PBS on October 1 and 2.

For more updates on the game, stay tuned to our blog and the Half the Sky website.

The second grant, in the Arts in Media category, will support the Games for Change Festival, taking place on June 18 – 20 in New York City. The event is now the largest games gathering in New York City. Amongst some of this year’s curatorial selections will be a series of presentations on games and cultural spaces from such leading institutions as the TATE, Smithsonian and the California Academy of the Sciences.

With the convergence of so many game designers, developers, cause owners, academics and funders, we are also putting a spotlight on “play” with our new Kinect Game Lounge, play tests and programming such as an Agitprop Game Design panel with leading indie game designers pushing against the mainstream by combining activism and games.

To learn more about the 9th Annual Games for Change Festival, visit our website or view a full list of this year’s speakers here.


To see a full list of NEA grant recipients, visit the NEA website at here.


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