CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Jennifer Novak-Leonard, an urban and regional planning professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, has been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts research grant.
The NEA announced nearly 1,500 awards in the amount of $33.2 million. Novak-Leonard’s award is one of 18 in the NEA’s Research Grants in the Arts category. A total of $815,000 is to be awarded in this round of funding through a competitive application process that includes a review by a panel of experts. The grants fund studies that analyze the value or impact of the arts.
Novak-Leonard’s project will provide a timely, national look at the educational and career experiences of artists, with an emphasis on racial inclusion in higher education and the impacts of the pandemic. Education and training of future artists may need to change to prepare them for new work structures and social interactions post-pandemic and to allow them to overcome structural inequalities in the arts, which have likely been exacerbated by the pandemic. The project will prepare a suite of reports that analyze survey data and offer insights for policymakers, researchers, workforce experts, officials in higher education, future arts and design students and alumni.
The project will use data from the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project, which gathers, analyzes and reports on survey data from graduates of art and design schools and colleges to understand the professional success, educational satisfaction and personal fulfillment of arts alumni. Novak-Leonard is the board vice president and research director of the arts alumni project.
The Strategic National Arts Alumni Project will be a partner in the research project through the Arts Impact Initiative of the College of Fine and Applied Arts. Novak-Leonard also is the research director of the Arts Impact Initiative, which focuses how art and artists contribute to community development and social well-being.
Novak-Leonard’s research examines the social roles of arts, artists, and creativity; how they impact people and communities; and implications for policy and practice. She specializes in the development of novel measurement systems to understand cultural participation, and she studies racial, ethnic, and socio-economic inequities in opportunities in the arts.
The National Endowment for the Arts is an independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies and the philanthropic sector, the Arts Endowment supports arts learning, celebrates America’s cultural heritage and promotes equal access to the arts.