Diversity, equity, and inclusion

Chronology of the North Carolina Arts Council's Investments in Racial Diversity

The pandemic and the racial justice movement in America defined the North Carolina Arts Council’s work in 2020.

After the death of George Floyd, the Arts Council published a call to act and committed to learning how disparities of race, class, and access stand in the way of the vision of arts for all. Now, the Arts Council is engaging in active dialogue with Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) artists, arts organizations, and arts leaders and examining how its own history, practices, and organizational culture have contributed to racial inequities in the field.

The Arts Council’s work in this area has evolved. In its 50-plus years of existence, the agency has created several programs and initiatives to address racial inequities in the arts sector. The following timeline outlines several historic programs that the agency is learning from and building on as it opens a new chapter of this work.

1967
The North Carolina Arts Council was created with a mission of “arts for all people.”

1970s and ’80s
The Arts Council became an agency of the Department of Cultural Resources and began awarding grants on an annual basis to nonprofit organizations, schools, and local governments. While many new arts nonprofits were created in the state during this period, relatively few were organizations of color or were led by people of color. Several nonprofit arts organizations of color that were formed, such as the NC Black Repertory Company and the African American Dance Ensemble, received grant support and technical assistance from the North Carolina Arts Council.

1977 - present | Grassroots Arts Program (GAP)
This program was created to grant per capita allocation for arts development to all 100 counties in North Carolina. Typically, local arts councils have received and distributed the allocation for their county each year.

1989 - 1990
To address concerns about an overall lack of diversity in grant funding, the North Carolina Arts Council created the following:
• The Organization of Color Development Program
• A multicultural requirement for GAP

1990 - 2001 | Organization of Color Development Program
22 African American and Native American nonprofit arts organizations were awarded annual funding for programs, operating support, and technical assistance.
The goal was to support a cohort of organizations that would stabilize, grow, and become competitive within the Arts Council's traditional grant categories. Several organizations of color realized that goal and transitioned to operating support grants offered through the State Arts Resources program. However, most of the organizations in the Organization of Color Development Program were brought into a new category with a focus on outreach.

2001 - 2010 | Organizations of Color Outreach Program
In 2001, the Arts Council created the Organizations of Color Outreach Program, which provided funding to support the ongoing artistic and administrative functions of multicultural organizations. Over time, the number of organizations applying to this category declined, and the groups that remained were encouraged to apply in the established project grant categories.

1990 - present | Multicultural requirement added to GAP
To ensure that GAP reflects the racial and ethnic diversity of the state, since 1990 each local arts council has been required to spend a percentage of its annual county allotment on programming that reflects African American, Asian American, Latino, and Native American cultures. This requirement is met through supporting arts programming conducted by artists, ensembles, or organizations of color. It is not reached by counting or estimating the percentage of audience members or participants of color.
In recent years, the annual GAP budget has ranged from $2.5 million to $3 million.
The total annual funding dedicated to multicultural programs through the GAP is typically over $1 million.

1996 - present | Cultural Trails
The Arts Council collaborated with communities of color to develop cultural trails that focus on ongoing arts traditions in those communities. The cultural trails highlight nationally significant arts resources that are deeply embedded in community, and the goal is to encourage tourism that respects and sustains these historic and cultural assets.
With years of field work, community meetings, publications, media, and financial support for signature events, the Arts Council made significant investments in the Cherokee Heritage Trails and African-American Music Trails projects.

2000s - present | Project Grants
The Arts Council updated project grant evaluation criteria to emphasize the importance of representation of diverse artists and meaningful community outreach. As a result, project grant categories such as Program Support and cARTwheels supported arts organizations and schools in the hiring of artists of color for activities that benefited diverse audiences throughout the state.

The number of projects awarded in FY17-18 that feature artists of color is 45, or 53% of total awardees. . The number of projects awarded in FY18-19 that feature artists of color is 40, or 48% of total awardees.

The amount of project grant awarded in FY17-18 that feature artist of color is $801,500, or 55% of total awardees. The amount of project grant awarded in FY18-19 that feau

2019 - present | Professional development workshops for BIPOC artists
Led by Strategic Planning Partners, these Arts Council-sponsored workshops focused on the needs of artists of color, offering training in skills and strategies to build careers and navigate the business of being an artist.

2020 - present | A New Commitment to Racial Equity
BIPOC arts equity forum
The Arts Council has been hosting listening sessions for deeper conversations with arts leaders of color. The purpose of these forums is to help the Arts Council do a better job of understanding and addressing racial and cultural inequities in the field. New grant opportunities broaden the Arts Council's network
In 2020, the Arts Council provided a one-time stimulus grant for arts organizations led by people of color, which provided flexible funding to help organizations stay afloat during the pandemic. In 2021 the Arts Council created the Arts Equity Project Grant category, designed to support arts projects that benefit communities of color, communities of people with disabilities, and rural communities.

At the North Carolina Arts Council diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion are essential to who we are. Our commitment to these values is steadfast – it is at the heart of our mission “arts for all people.” We believe that the arts in the state are enriched when voices representing all people are respected, heard, acknowledged, and exhibited.

Early history of NCAC   a.	The North Carolina Arts Council created in 1967 with a mission of “arts for all people”   b.	NCAC made grants to organizations that were nonprofits, schools or local governments  c.	In the 1970s and 80s, many new arts nonprofits were created in the state; relatively few were organizations of color led by leaders of color

The pandemic and the racial justice movement in America defined the North Carolina Arts Council’s work in 2020.

After the death of George Floyd, the Arts Council published a call to act and committed to learning how disparities of race, class, and access stand in the way of the vision of arts for all. Now, the Arts Council is engaging in active dialogue with BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) artists, arts organizations, and arts leaders and examining how its own history, practices, and organizational culture have contributed to racial inequities in the field.

The Arts Council’s work in this area has evolved. In its 50-plus years of existence, the agency has created several programs and initiatives to address racial inequities in the arts sector. The following timeline outlines several historic programs that the agency is learning from and building on as it opens a new chapter of this work.