Mission, Values, & History

Read about NEFA's commitment to the arts and equity, diversity, intersectionality, and accessibility.

Idea Swap 2018 | Photo by Jeffrey Filiault/NEFA

Mission & Vision


NEFA invests in artists and communities and fosters equitable access to the arts, enriching the cultural landscape in New England and the nation.


NEFA contributes to a nation where artists flourish and communities celebrate art as essential to a thriving, equitable society.


  • Artists and the creative process: NEFA values the individual and collective contributions of artists in society, the ingenuity and imagination of the creative process, and is committed to freedom of artistic expression. NEFA believes in amplifying the voices of artists as leaders in our organization, the arts sector, and communities.
  • Equity, diversity, intersectionality, and accessibility: NEFA values an equitable, diverse, and inclusive world, which we interpret as all people having fair access to the tools and resources they need to realize creative and community endeavors. We acknowledge structural inequities that have excluded individuals and communities from opportunity based on race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, class, age, and geography, and strive to counter those inequities in our work. 
  • Knowledge building and sharing: NEFA values the importance of inquiry, information gathering, and collaborative learning that strengthens NEFA’s practices and the arts and culture sector. NEFA promotes varied learning opportunities for diverse stakeholders and partners.
  • Leadership: NEFA believes that leadership opportunities for artists and cultural workers are essential to a stronger arts sector and healthier communities; NEFA values the leadership role that we play to advance arts and culture in the region and the nation.
  • Partnership: NEFA values the interdependence of artists, organizations, and communities as essential to a wholistic, equitable vision of community vitality and artistic success. NEFA values our own partnerships with the National Endowment for the Arts, state arts agencies, funders, advisors, and stakeholders, which enable alignment of resources and strategies that lead to greater effectiveness.
  • Public funding for the arts: NEFA values public commitment to the arts and culture sector as vital to a just, healthy civic life and a robust democracy, and an essential leverage for private investment in the arts.


Founded in 1976, NEFA is one of six regional arts organizations established with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts  to strengthen the national arts infrastructure by cultivating the arts on a regional level. Today, NEFA’s programs are regional, national, and international in scope, and support artists and communities through grants and other opportunities in dance, music, theater, and public art. 

Each program and project that is brought to life at NEFA is created with the underlying goal of building a stronger and more dynamic infrastructure for the arts. Convenings, network building, online tools, and a 30+ year history of data-driven research on the economic impact of the arts are essential complements to NEFA’s grantmaking.

NEFA is a grantmaker, program initiator, aggregator of resources, and builder of creative partnerships among artists, arts organizations and funders. Our work is generously supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the New England state arts agencies, foundations, corporations, and individual donors. 

View NEFA’s past programs and initiatives

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