Looks like the "are games art?" argument just got a little more complicated. The National Endowment for the Arts, an independent federal agency that has so far allocated over $4 billion to "support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation," has reworked one of its grant categories to include "digital games." If you think your game's got enough artistic merit, the NEA could be willing to grant you up to $200,000. And that ain't chump change.
The NEA recently announced that it's replacing its "Arts on Radio and Television" category with the more general "Arts in Media," which includes "all available media platforms such as the Internet, interactive and mobile technologies, [and] digital games," in addition to the platforms previously eligible. They include the very broad statement that "Media projects that can be considered works of art" will be considered for grants.
It's not entirely clear what exactly makes a "media project" worthy of the NEA's resources, but this could mark a turning point for games garnering more respect from the general populace. And it's a happy sign that the NEA--a government group--is taking gaming seriously. If this means that the NEA is willing to fund projects like Tag , The Majesty of Colors , and Covetous , this could have a colossal, positive impact on the indie gaming scene.
If you think the game you're developing can make a grown man cry or inspire thousands, check out the NEA website to find out more about Arts in Media grants before the deadline on September 1, 2011.