National Endowment for the Arts Funds Hanson Project

Dr. Josef Hanson

Dr. Josef Hanson, assistant professor in the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music, was recently awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for his project, “Case Study Research on the Motivations and Experiences of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) Artist-Entrepreneurs in Memphis, TN and the Mississippi Delta.” Hanson will use this to support a set of qualitative case studies on the motivations and experiences of artist-entrepreneurs of color in Memphis and the Mississippi Delta.

The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support this project at the University of Memphis, one of only 18 Research Grants in the Arts projects funded in this fiscal year, said NEA Director of Research & Analysis Sunil Iyengar. As demonstrated by Josef’s project and those developed by the other 17 awardees, the arts can be a source of resilience, well-being, social connectedness, and experiential learning. These skills and attributes have become increasingly sought-after in our challenging times.

As part of this project, artist-entrepreneurs will participate in in-depth interviews that address: 1) How do artist-entrepreneur persons of color experience the process of artistic creativity in their communities?; 2) What factors exert the greatest influence on the entrepreneurial success of these artist-entrepreneurs?; and 3) How should stakeholders in industry, education, the nonprofit/cultural sector, and government/policymaking better facilitate the development of a more equitable and inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem for persons of color in the arts? Results from this study will support the ongoing efforts of artists, funders, and stakeholders to create more equitable support systems within the arts sector. This project has the potential to benefit the support systems for artists and entrepreneurship in Memphis, Tennessee, and the Mississippi Delta region, including BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) workers and seeks to promote and expand the value and impact of the arts.

About the NEA

Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the Arts Endowment supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America.

About the NEA’s Research Grants in the Arts program (from the NEA website)

Research Grants in the Arts support research studies 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. Competition for Research Grants in the Arts is extremely rigorous. Applications are reviewed, in closed session, by interdisciplinary research and evaluation advisory panelists. Each panel comprises a diverse group of arts-research experts and other individuals, including at least one knowledgeable layperson. The panel recommends the projects to be supported, and the staff reconciles panel recommendations with the funds that are available. These recommendations are forwarded to the National Council on the Arts, where they are reviewed in an open, public session. The Council makes recommendations to the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. The Chairman reviews the recommendations for grants in all funding categories and makes the final decision on all grant awards.

Read full NEA press release here.

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