an unfolded map and a book of field notes

Field notes: May 2023

Author: Jeff Bell

Happy spring! I hope you’ve been getting out to enjoy the wondrous arts our state offers.

It has been a busy and exciting time here at the North Carolina Arts Council. One of the highlights has to be Arts Day, on April 17 and 18. Arts North Carolina did a tremendous job, as always, in organizing the event. So many of the topics presented are closely related to the work we do at the N.C. Arts Council. For example, Arts Day attendees heard the singer-songwriter Rissi Palmer talk about how valuable artist support grants, including micro-grants, have been to her career. The singer-songwriter Ben Folds described the importance of arts education: a belief that he has put into action with Keys for Kids, a project he launched in collaboration with the Arts Council last year. Both musicians gave moving performances that demonstrated the truth of what they had said. The fact that hundreds of people took time to go to Raleigh to speak to their legislators about the importance of arts funding was impressive. And the quality of the work by artists and arts organizations across the state makes it easy to make the case to state legislators by citing examples of what the arts can do for our communities.

Seated crowds at 2023's ARTS Day
Attendees at ARTS Day


Rissi Palmer singer at ARTS Day 2023
Rissi Palmer
Ben Folds seated at his piano, performing at ARTS Day 2023
Ben Folds


We are nearing the end of our 2023–2024 grant application reviews by staff and panels. Our staff worked hard to help grant applicants and recipients with their proposals, and as a result, last year the N.C. Arts Council distributed the most money and the highest number of grants in its history. This is the final year of our Spark the Arts project funding, which is prioritizing efforts to stabilize and grow the arts sector across North Carolina, and we expect to set a high bar this year, too.

Next month, our board will meet in Boone, and I look forward to sharing with them some of the work being done with N.C. Arts Council support in Watauga County. Hearing from our local arts council partners and their constituents is an excellent way to appreciate the impact of the arts on a community.

As you may know, the N.C. Arts Council is an agency of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. We are always looking for ways to partner with the department and fellow agencies, so I am excited to announce that together we are bringing back the popular Music at the Mansion concert series. This series celebrates North Carolina’s vibrant and diverse musical traditions and is hosted by First Lady Kristin Cooper. Please keep an eye out for more information on our social media channel

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