North Carolina had long been recognized for rich traditions in crafts, literature, historical drama and music when, by executive order in 1964, Governor Terry Sanford created the North Carolina Arts Council to strengthen North Carolina's creativity, invention and prosperity.
Under Governor Dan K. Moore, the Arts Council became a statutory state agency in 1967. It operates today as an agency of the Department of Cultural Resources, the nation's first cabinet level state agency for the arts, history, and libraries.
The N.C. Arts Council is governed by a 24-member board appointed by the Governor, a 26-member staff, and serves as the steward of state and federal funds appropriated for the arts. Arts Council Board meetings are open to the public.
To Make North Carolina a Better State Through the Arts
The N.C. Arts Council receives an annual appropriation from the state Legislature and from the National Endowment for the Arts. Through a competitive grants program, nonprofit arts organizations, artists, schools and others receive support. Click here to see the latest grant funding statistics. (Links to most recent fact sheet)
North Carolina’s arts industry is robust and fuels the state’s creative economy. Artists are an integral part of civic life as they stimulate creativity, innovation and dialogue. Our cities vibrate with the energy of the arts; and our rural communities reach deep into their roots and celebrate their unique traditions. Residents in every corner of N.C. have the chance to engage their artistic aspirations. The arts help children flourish through a complete education that prepares them for the workforce with 21st century skills. The arts build bridges where diverse communities reach across boundaries to celebrate and share their cultures. The arts are an essential ingredient in state policy, practice and pride.
North Carolina’s economy is creative at its core. Our state’s rich artistic traditions have contributed significantly to the state’s economic vitality since the last century. North Carolina is known for a rich cultural heritage rooted in the arts, with the first local arts council in the nation and the first state-supported symphony and museum of art. Today more than 3,000 nonprofit organizations provide opportunities for citizens to experience arts in their own communities.
The Arts Council supports and advocates for arts organizations and individual artists. Our diverse audiences show that the arts are relevant to the lives of North Carolinians and critical to the future of N.C. and all of its communities. Our grant awards become a “blue ribbon stamp of approval” to leverage additional funds from foundations, businesses and local governments, generating almost $16 in matching funds for every $1 invested. You may search our grant history using our database.
The creative industry creates and sustains nearly 300,000 jobs in N.C., or 5.54 percent of total state employment. The market value of goods and services produced and sustained by our creative industry is more than $41.4 billion, or 5.86 percent of the state’s total production.
The nonprofit and for-profit enterprises in the creative industry thrive through their symbiotic relationships, fostering and distributing the original content that makes N.C. unique and competitive. To find out more about Creative North Carolina click here.
The arts teach our children the skills that will make them successful in the 21st century workforce — innovation, imagination, critical thinking and collaboration. Nearly 4.3 million children and youth participate in Arts Council-funded classroom and after school arts experiences each year. You can learn more about our arts in education program here.
View a fact sheet about the N.C. Arts Council.
Use these links to read about our board, list yourself or your organization in our database or sign up for e-mail news and updates.