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United Arts Council

The Fortunate Arts in North Carolina: Deliberate, Not Dumb Luck

By Eleanor H. Oakley, President/CEO

We value the arts here in North Carolina—and have, for a long time.

Founded in 1967, the North Carolina Arts Council grew out of the national statewide arts movement inspired by the concept of “arts for all citizens.” At that time, there were 17 local arts councils among the 250 nonprofit arts organizations throughout North Carolina.

Today, the network includes more than 2,500 nonprofit arts and culture organizations, a wealth of accomplished artists, and an arts infrastructure that reaches into all one hundred counties through one of the nation’s most highly developed networks of local arts councils.

All of which is to say, “Lucky us.”  But there is more work to be done to maintain and grow statewide and local support for the arts in all 50 of our counties and in all North Carolina schools.  The arts don’t happen by accident—they need care and tending.

The North Carolina Arts Council is now celebrating its 50th anniversary.  As a part of a year-long celebration of its impact over the past 50 years, the United Arts Council is dedicating its October 6th First Friday exhibit and opening reception to the North Carolina Arts Council. Our exhibit will feature the work of six former professional development grant award winners. This grant category is partially funded by the North Carolina Arts Council, so featuring the creative output of these grantees is, we thought, our best way to honor all that the state arts council has done and continues to do for the arts in North Carolina.

Back to that care and tending thought for just a moment:  Since 1985, the month of October has been nationally designated to encourage all Americans to explore new facets of the arts and humanities in their lives and to begin a lifelong habit of active participation in the arts. The Wake County Commissioners have made October Arts and Humanities Month in Wake County. 

So, please attend an arts event, donate to your local arts group, participate in an arts class of some type, and vote for North Carolina citizens who understand that the arts make North Carolina a better place to live, work and thrive.

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