ArtsEngine and a2ru Receive Federal Arts Research Grant

Ann Arbor— ArtsEngine, an interdisciplinary program at the University of Michigan, and the Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities (a2ru), a network of 44 research universities committed to fostering arts-integrated research, teaching, and practice, has been awarded its first grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to bolster their work.

Today, National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu announced 10 awards totaling $550,000 to that investigate the value and/or impact of the arts, either as individual components of the U.S. arts ecology or as they interact with each other and/or with other domains of American life. Included in this announcement is a Research: Art Works award of $20,000 to ArtsEngine and the Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities (a2ru) based at the University of Michigan to support the development of an evidence-based taxonomy describing the value of arts and design for higher education, communities, and workforce development.  

As part of the project, researchers will synthesize data from an in-depth literature review and from 472 individual interviews that previously have been conducted with faculty, administrators, and students at approximately 46 U.S. universities, about their use of arts and design. Also to be included in the synthesis are survey data concerning the arts engagement of University of Michigan students, including a longitudinal cohort. Multiple qualitative and quantitative research approaches will be used to build the taxonomy, which will be vetted and refined in participatory design workshops. Results from the study are expected to guide the design of a research instrument that can validate features of the taxonomy. These tools would give educators and policy-makers a greater understanding of the role that arts and design play in higher education and in achieving broader societal outcomes. The University of Michigan researchers represent the Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities (A2RU), a national organization.


To join the Twitter conversation about this announcement, use #NEASpring18 and tag @NEAarts. For more information on projects included in the NEA grant announcement, go to

For more information on the Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities, visit