Why the Arts Matter
A robust arts industry produces a creative economy, vibrant communities, children prepared for the 21st century and lives filled with discovery and learning.
Public support of the arts helps ensure that all citizens have access to the arts, regardless of economic status, education, geographic location, level of artistic talent or special needs. People attend arts events — from music performances to museum exhibitions to craft fairs — because they find such experiences enjoyable and culturally enriching. Steady interest in and attendance at arts events throughout the state indicates that the intrinsic benefits gained from the arts have importance to North Carolinians.
The arts are essential to a diversified and innovative 21st century economy. In North Carolina the arts provide jobs, attract visitors, create products, influence consumer spending and build community vitality.
The creative industry in N.C. accounts for nearly 300,000 jobs, more than 5.5 percent of the state's workforce, with a market value of $41.4 billion.
The creative industry is comprised of a wide range of occupations. The list includes not only painters, potters and musicians, but also architects, designers, writers for new and traditional media, software developers and workers in the film industry. The nonprofit and for-profit enterprises in the creative industry thrive through their symbiotic relationship, fostering and distributing the original creative content that makes N.C. unique and competitive.
To learn more about the Creative Economy, click here.
A strong arts infrastructure across the state — with more than 2,500 nonprofit arts organizations and a program that ensures funding to all 100 N.C. counties — provides
opportunities for citizens to experience the arts in their own communities and contributes to vital and vibrant cities and towns.
Across the state there are more than 1,000 arts facilities in cities and towns. Abandoned textile mills, warehouses, banks, department stores, churches and schools, for example, have been converted to art centers, theaters, museums and artist studios so our cities vibrate with the energy of the arts; and our rural communities reach deep into their roots and celebrate their unique traditions.
The arts have been a catalyst for downtown and neighborhood revitalization since the early 1980s. Many new major art centers have opened in our larger cities across the state in the last two years. A proposed new program, SmART Cities/SmART Towns will encourage cities to use the arts as a catalyst for community transformation.
21st Century Education
Arts learning, both in and out of the classroom, plays a critical role in preparing North Carolina’s school-age children for the future. The N.C. Arts Council and the state’s arts industry have long recognized the importance for all children to have access to arts learning. The Arts Council works to ensure that the arts are central to education policy and in programming.
In the summer of 2010, the state Legislature mandated a task force to develop a comprehensive K–12 Arts Education Plan for the state. The Legislature also transferred funding to the Arts Council for the administration of the A+ Schools Program.
In order to prepare children for the 21st century, a variety of arts learning experiences are offered through the Arts In Education (AIE) grant category, including artists residency grants and funds for after school programs designed for students in underserved communities.
Supporting and providing professional development for teaching artists and teachers — in regards to arts integration — is also happening across the state.
To find out more about arts in education, and to read about notable programs, click here.