North Carolina has long been recognized for rich traditions in crafts, literature, historical drama and music. Since 1964 when it was created by Governor Terry Sanford, the North Carolina Arts Council has worked to strengthen North Carolina’s creativity, invention and prosperity.

The Arts Council has four core functions:

  • Creating a strong and efficient arts infrastructure across North Carolina 
  • Planning and implementing economic development initiatives 
  • Educating our young people 
  • Researching the impact of the arts on our state 

Economic Development

Through its cultural tourism programs and research into the Creative Economy and Creativity at Work, the N.C. Arts Council leverages the arts to create jobs, improve communities and explain the impact that the arts have on our state's economy.

Learn More About the N.C. Arts Council's Work in Economic Development

Arts in Education

The N.C. Arts Council works to provide access to high-quality arts education experiences for every child in North Carolina. Its nationally recognized A+ Schools Program works to integrate the arts across the curriculum, and it encourages high school students to connect with poetry through memorization, performance and competition by facilitating the national Poetry Out Loud program in North Carolina. 

Through its Traditional Arts Program for Students, the Arts Council preserves North Carolina’s cultural heritage by teaching students how to read and play music, make pottery and practice other traditional arts, and through an Arts in Education grant program, the Council invests in and supports schools and nonprofit organizations to strengthen the use of the arts in pre-K–12 settings. 

Providing Access to the Best

Thanks to the N.C. Arts Council's cultural trails program, great arts and cultural experiences are just a click away for all North Carolinians.

Plan Your North Carolina Arts Adventure Today


The Arts Council’s grants are one of the many ways we invest in sustaining and advancing one of the most diverse and widespread networks of arts organizations in the country. Our grant programs line-up with the priorities of state government, especially in the areas of economic development and education. 

Grant awards are based on rigorous criteria that help keep the arts industry’s standards of practice at the highest level. Grant awards are recommended by a panel of civic leaders and arts experts that consider artistic merit, benefit of the project to the state’s citizens and the organizational strength and capacity in making their decisions.

Learn More About the Arts Council's Grants Program