The North Carolina Arts Council: Advancing the Arts Across the State

On April 11, 1967, the North Carolina General Assembly created the North Carolina Arts Council as a statutory agency.

Established in 1964 by executive order of Governor Terry Sanford, the Arts Council began its work by documenting architecture, design, visual arts, crafts, theatre, music, dance, opera, creative writing, communications, film, concert series, school programs, statewide organizations, local arts councils and support throughout the state.

Phillip Hanes, Jr. chaired the state’s effort to advance the arts, in conjunction with the National Arts and Cultural Development Act that led to the establishment of the National Endowment for the Arts.

The state Arts Council quickly built on the 17 local arts councils and more than 200 arts organizations already working in North Carolina, organizing poetry readings throughout the state, beginning an artists-in-schools program and supporting nonprofit arts organizations and exemplary artists through grants.

Today a strong arts infrastructure provides opportunities for citizens to experience the arts in their own communities, reflecting and sharing the state’s diversity. New initiatives include literary, Blue Ridge Music and African American Music cultural tourism guides, the addition to the model arts education program, A+ Schools, and the creation of an arts-based economic development, the SmART Initiative.

In 2017, the Arts Council will celebrate 50 years of service as a statutory state agency, building on the arts to develop an economic engine that accounts for 6 percent of North Carolina’s workforce.

Audiences at arts and culture events during 2016 will have an opportunity to be surveyed in the national Arts & Economic Prosperity study, documenting the impact of the nonprofit part of the creative economy sector.

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