This work is dedicated to building and understanding of how this country's only government subsidized arts support organization came into existence. Readers will find a brief narrative on the relationship between the United States Government and the precarious business of the cultural arts. A survey was conducted to identify the range of theatre organizations that apply for and receive funding. Readers will also find a good look at the NEA Theatre program and that branch of the Endowment's selection process. The author's conclusion offers some suggestions for improvement. In addition, there is a section on the NEA's legislative history and a summary on the «state of the arts,» particularly for the smaller, newer and experimental groups.