With a boost in state appropriations, the North Carolina Arts Council will launch two new programs this year and provide additional support for arts programs in all 100 N.C. counties with more than $6.5 million in grants.
During 2017–18 an additional $650,000 will support the Grassroots Arts Program, a new touring program for rural areas and a new military and veterans healing program.
“These investments across North Carolina shape the character, vibrancy, and growth of our changing towns and cities, and help us ensure that all citizens have opportunities to engage the arts,” said Natural and Cultural Resources Secretary Susi Hamilton.
The N.C. Arts Council, founded in 1967 with the idea that all citizens deserve equal access to the arts, supports one of the nation’s most highly developed networks of non-profit arts organizations in the country. The agency, part of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources is celebrating its 50th anniversary through May 2018.
In fiscal year 2017–18, N.C. Arts Council grants will support more than 800 arts organizations, schools and other nonprofit groups that sponsor arts programs or arts-driven economic development projects. Grant funds come from both state legislative appropriation and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Additional appropriations this year will support:
“For 50 years, the North Carolina Arts Council has supported arts as an economic catalyst,” said Wayne Martin, Executive Director of the N.C. Arts Council. “Approximately 80 percent of our funds flow directly to arts organizations and artists, allowing communities to revitalize downtowns, develop innovative education programs and provide citizens with abundant, high quality arts programming.”
For every dollar invested by the state there is a return of almost $20 in private, matching funds. The state, local and private support provides the opportunity for almost six million school children and N.C. residents to participate in arts opportunities funded by the N.C. Arts Council.
Funds continue to support rural communities for arts in education programs, such as the popular Traditional Arts Programs for Students (TAPS), an afterschool program where student receive music instruction taught by traditional string band musicians, Seagrove potters or African American jazz musicians. New programs will be added in Morganton (Burke County) and on the Qualla Boundary (Swain County) bringing the total to 20 across the state.
An arts touring and residency program, cARTwheels, provides in-depth exposure to performing arts. Touring groups will travel to 18 venues in primarily rural communities through grants for arts in education. Additionally, an artist residency program for pre-kindergarten to 12th grade will be provided at more than 16 schools and venues where artist residencies (10 days or longer) provide students with in-depth knowledge and skills in the arts. Based on N.C. curriculum standards, educators and artists collaborate to design a program that reflects the needs of the school and engages students in hands-on, participatory arts learning.
The N.C. Arts Council will continue to invest in the SmART Initiative, a program that uses the arts to transform downtowns and fuel economic development. SmART communities include Burnsville, Durham and Kinston. “The SmART Initiative encourages Government and the private sector work together in communities large and small to ensure that North Carolina continues to be a place where businesses want to be, people want to live and visitors want to explore,” Martin said.
One of the first SmART Initiative grants went to the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park in downtown Wilson, which will celebrate its completion Thursday, Nov. 2, when the park is officially dedicated. Almost 30 restored whirligigs have been installed at the park and there has been more than $25 million in private and public investment generated within a two-block radius of the park, including a brewpub, residential apartments and restaurants.
Grant awards are recommended by panels of civic leaders and arts experts based on artistic merit, benefit of the project to the state’s citizens, and the applicant’s organizational strength and capacity. Recommendations are reviewed by the North Carolina Arts Council Board and approved by Secretary Susi Hamilton.