Wayne MartinExecutive Director, North Carolina Arts Council

Wayne Martin

Wayne Martin has served the North Carolina Arts Council since 1981. He became executive director of the agency in 2012, where he oversees a $6.7 million grants program serving all 100 counties and raises private funds for statewide arts initiatives. The North Carolina Arts Council celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2017.

Martin’s career contributions in the areas of community arts development, arts education, and cultural and heritage tourism have made North Carolina a leader in creative placemaking and arts-based economic development at the national level.

Martin has played a critical role in creating cultural tourism projects in Tier 3 counties. His work with the Blue Ridge Music Trails and Cherokee Heritage Trail projects, part of the Blue Ridge Heritage Initiative, set the stage for the Congressional designation of western North Carolina as the Blue Ridge Heritage Area. In 2004, Martin received the first Preserve America Presidential Award on behalf of the Blue Ridge Heritage Initiative. The Blue Ridge Music Trails guidebook (UNC Press), revised in a second printing, now covers 28 western counties.

Martin has further sustained North Carolina’s longstanding arts traditions by creating African American Music Trails of Eastern North Carolina and the Historic Happy Valley cultural trail, and by assisting in the planning of the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park in Wilson. In addition to documenting millions of dollars in economic impact within their regions, these projects encourage the sponsoring communities to reassess the value of their local artists and traditions. 

Martin also helped guide planning and implementation of the Arts Council’s SmART Initiative that spurs arts-driven economic development across the state. In 2013 he created the North Carolina Arts Council Foundation, which has received over a million dollars in private funds to support SmART and A+ Schools of North Carolina.

Prior to joining the Arts Council, Martin founded the Piedmont Council of Traditional Music (PineCone) in 1984. Now a Raleigh institution, PineCone offers a wide array of performances, educational programs, media projects and hosts the International Bluegrass Association’s World of Bluegrass in downtown Raleigh.  

An accomplished musician, Martin has recorded and produced several albums of traditional music for the Smithsonian Folkways, Global Music and MusicMaker labels.  He periodically teaches fiddle and guitar at music camps across the country and performs on special occasions for audiences interested in southern music.

Martin holds a B.A. in history from UNC-Chapel Hill.