Wednesday, September 14, 2022

N.C. African American Heritage Commission Awarded Planning Grant for Inclusive Public Art Project and Call for Artists

Sep 14, 2022

The North Carolina African American Heritage Commission (NCAAHC) is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a $5,000 planning grant from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation (ZSR). The planning grant is one of 20 awarded statewide, which will be used for community engagement and to move toward submitting full proposals for a potential inclusive public art installation.

With the funding, the NCAAHC will facilitate a community-engaged process that centers knowledge, emergence, and co-creation to shape public art memorials to one of North Carolina’s most obscured histories. Africa to Carolina memorials will honor 2,000 persons who disembarked in North Carolina directly from the African Continent; and more specifically, those who came through Port Beaufort, Port Brunswick, and Port Roanoke. To complete this work, the NCAAHC and its partner, the NC Museum of Art, are facilitating a call for North Carolina based-artists who have experience engaging communities. Artists should submit application materials to by Oct. 7, 2022.

“Despite the horrific conditions they faced, these ancestors rested, survived, and created infrastructure, an economy, and a rich culture for the place that we now call home,” said Adrienne Nirdé, associate director of the NCAAHC. “They were engineers, farmers, coopers, artists, carpenters, masons, culinarians, caregivers, and river pilots; they were brothers and children, mothers and fathers. Their lives must be honored—for them, for their descendants, and for the communities they cultivated. Now is a critical time to ensure that their legacies are shared with communities, and held and acknowledged with care via public art.”

ZSR’s Inclusive Public Art initiative, which is part of ZSR’s Exploratory, Visionary Ideas Strategy, addresses three main issues the Foundation identified after a statewide listening and learning tour: North Carolinians desire deeper connection with one another; issues of race and racism are not openly discussed in many communities; and the demographics of North Carolina’s communities continue to rapidly change.

“Inclusive Public Art is one way the Foundation can offer a starting place for people to engage in important conversations about their communities’ past, present and future,” said Maurice “Mo” Green, executive director of ZSR. “ZSR’s investment in Inclusive Public Art is intended to help share stories of diversity, equality, inclusion and equity as they relate to the people and places of North Carolina, especially those whose stories are often untold.”

ZSR is partnering with the Mellon Foundation in this Inclusive Public Art initiative. For more information, please visit Inclusive Public Art | Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation (

About the North Carolina African American Commission
Created in 2008, the African American Heritage Commission is a division of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. The commission works across the department to preserve, protect and promote the state’s African American history, art and culture for all people. Its endeavors include the identification of heritage sites, compiling resources for educators, extending the work of national programs such as the National Park Service’s Network to Freedom Underground Railroad, and independent initiatives including the NC Civil Rights Trail.

About the North Carolina Museum of Art
The North Carolina Museum of Art’s collection spans more than 5,000 years, from antiquity to the present, making the institution one of the premier art museums in the South. The Museum’s collection provides educational, aesthetic, intellectual, and cultural experiences for the citizens of North Carolina and beyond. The 164-acre Museum Park showcases the connection between art and nature through site-specific works of environmental art. The Museum offers changing special exhibitions, classes, lectures, family activities, films, and concerts. The Museum is located at 2110 Blue Ridge Road in Raleigh and is home to the People’s Collection. It is the art museum of the State of North Carolina, under the auspices of Governor Roy Cooper; an agency of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, guided by the direction of Secretary D. Reid Wilson; and led by Director Valerie Hillings.

About the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources
The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state's natural and cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational and economic future of North Carolina. NCDNCR's mission is to improve the quality of life in our state by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history, libraries and nature in North Carolina by stimulating learning, inspiring creativity, preserving the state's history, conserving the state's natural heritage, encouraging recreation and cultural tourism, and promoting economic development.

NCDNCR includes 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, three science museums, three aquariums and Jennette's Pier, 41 state parks and recreation areas, the N.C. Zoo, the N.C. Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, the African American Heritage Commission, State Preservation Office and the Office of State Archaeology, and the Division of Land and Water Stewardship. For more information, please visit

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