National Endowment for the Humanities: Media Projects – Development Grants
The Media Projects program supports documentary film, television, radio, and podcast projects that engage public audiences with humanities ideas in creative and appealing ways. All projects must be grounded in humanities scholarship in disciplines such as history, art history, film studies, literature, religious studies, philosophy, or anthropology. Projects must also demonstrate an approach that is thoughtful, balanced, and analytical. The approach to the subject matter must go beyond the mere presentation of factual information to explore its larger significance and stimulate reflection. Funded projects must demonstrate the potential to attract a broad general audience.
Media projects that promote a deeper understanding of American history and culture and advance civic education are encouraged, as well as those that examine international themes and subjects in the humanities. Film and television projects may be single films or a series addressing significant figures, events, or ideas. Programs may be intended for regional or national distribution, via traditional carriage or online distribution. The Division of Public Programs welcomes projects that range in length from short-form to broadcast-length video. Radio and podcast projects may involve single programs, limited series, or segments within an ongoing series. They may be intended for regional or national distribution.
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) encourages projects that engage public audiences through multiple formats. Proposed projects might include supplementary components to a film, television, radio, or podcast project: for example, book/film discussion programs, supplementary educational websites, or museum exhibitions. Applicants must have clear central ideas and a solid command of the major humanities scholarship on their subject, and they must have consulted with a team of scholarly advisers to work out the intellectual issues that the program will explore. The scholars must represent major fields relevant to the subject matter, have a strong record of research and scholarship in the humanities, and offer diverse perspectives and approaches.
Development awards enable media producers to collaborate with scholars to develop humanities content and to prepare programs for production. Awards should result in a script (for documentary film or television programs) or a detailed treatment (for radio programs or podcasts) and may also yield a plan for outreach and public engagement. To be ready to apply for a development award, applicants must already have settled on a subject, an approach, and a project team. In particular, applicants should have:
- Selected a humanities subject and assessed the major scholarship related to it
- Reached out to scholars and experts who work in the relevant subject area(s) to assemble a group of humanities advisers
- Consulted with the humanities advisers to clarify the interpretive ideas that the project will consider
- Formed a media team to see the project through its development period
- Considered how the content will appeal to public audiences and will convey what they should learn from the project
- Chosen the project’s format(s)
- Identified project resources (such as archival materials and potential interviewees)
Media Projects – Development Grants may be used for:
- Meetings with scholars
- Research and preliminary interviews (including scholarly research and development of humanities themes)
- Preparation of program treatments and/or scripts
- Production of a work-in-progress or trailer
- Creation of partnerships for outreach activities and public engagement
Amount: Development Grants are usually made for a period of performance of six to twelve months. Most awards are made for up to $40,000, with a maximum of $75,000 for complex projects that will reach national audiences.
Eligibility: U.S. nonprofit organizations with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, state and local governmental agencies, federally recognized Native American tribal governments, and institutions of higher education may apply. Eligible organizations are encouraged to partner with independent producers.
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