What We Do

The North Carolina Arts Council launched its work in 1967 as awareness of the importance of arts to all citizens was becoming a national movement. In the ensuing nearly 50 years the arts in North Carolina have come to be valued as one of our state’s most durable and productive assets.

After decades of vigorous work, experimentation, and refinement, our state’s arts infrastructure reaches into all 100 counties through one of the most highly developed and effective networks of local arts councils in our nation. An abundance of outstanding artists and arts organizations continues to enrich our communities. Artists and institutions improve quality of life, educate and inspire our youth, and stimulate an extraordinary amount of economic activity.

The A+ Schools of North Carolina has become the most successful model for arts-based whole school reform in the nation. There are currently 64 A+ Schools in 37 counties, and we recruit and train an additional five to seven schools each year.

N.C. Arts Trails showcase our distinctive cultural assets including Appalachian music, Cherokee arts and culture, literary heritage, traditional and contemporary crafts, and African American music. Guidebooks, CDs, websites, and brochures promote the trails to tourists and visitors.

SmART Communities, an arts-driven economic development program, showcases the central role the arts play in downtown revitalization. Towns and cities work with local resource teams, Arts Council staff, and expert consultants to create large-scale transformative projects that are generating new private investment and increased visitation.

The N.C. Folklife Program documents and presents North Carolina’s nationally-recognized cultural traditions in music, craft, dance, and narrative, among others.

The North Carolina Heritage Awards recognize and honor the lifetime achievement of the state’s master traditional artists in a public ceremony in downtown Raleigh every two years.

Training and Professional Development are essential services provided to organizations to build capacity and for artists to build their careers. The New Realities Program for organizations and the Creative Capital Workshops for artists are comprehensive programs conducted by nationally recognized consultants.

Creative Economy Research measures the economic impact of the state’s arts industry, which according to our most recent study, generates $1.24 billion in direct economic activity, supports more than 43,600 full-time jobs, and provides $119 million in local and state government revenue.

The Poet Laureate Program supports the Governor’s appointed Poet Laureate to provide readings and workshops and to promote literature in communities across the state.

The Military and Veterans Arts Program ensures that North Carolina's military personnel, veterans, and their families have access to cultural programming as a way to connect with the community and for self-expression.