Buncombe County Awards Arts & Culture Block Grant to Asheville Area Arts Council

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Buncombe County awarded a $129,788 block grant to the Asheville Area Arts Council to support the arts council’s grant programs and creative economy reporting initiatives.

This investment comes on the heels of a arts-sector relief grant program funded by Buncombe County earlier this year with its COVID Recovery Funds. “We recognize that the arts directly contribute to our resident well-being as well as a vibrant economy, two focus areas of our 2025 Strategic Plan. Block grants like these, along with COVID Recovery Funds dedicated to the arts sector, help ensure that we keep art at the heart of our Buncombe County community.” said Buncombe County strategic partnerships director Rachael Nygaard.

During the budget planning process, 44 local arts organizations voiced their support for the County’s arts and culture block grant proposal. “This is a unified way to recognize the vital importance of the arts to our cultural and economic health in Buncombe County,” says Wortham Center managing director Rae Geoffrey. “Allocating the funding for regranting purposes through the Asheville Area Arts Council ensures a fair and equitable distribution of support to our diverse array of local arts organizations and artists.”

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The arts council’s mission is to serve artists and arts organizations in Buncombe County– functioning as the designated local arts agency for Buncombe County by official county resolution. This designation allows the arts council to receive state and federal arts funding through the North Carolina Arts Council and National Endowment for the Arts on behalf of the County to regrant to artists and arts organizations.

“The North Carolina Arts Council and National Endowment for the Arts utilize local arts councils to regrant arts funding because they understand that we have the closest ties to artists and arts organizations in our community,” said Asheville Area Arts Council executive director Katie Cornell. “We are grateful to Buncombe County Commissioners for recognizing the role of the local arts council and strengthening our efforts through this important support.”

The majority of the funding will be divided between the arts council’s Grassroots Arts Program and Arts Build Community grants.

The North Carolina Arts Council’s Grassroots Arts Program Grant program provides funding for the arts in all 100 counties of the state through partnerships with local arts councils. Much of this funding is then regranted to local nonprofit arts organizations, providing programmatic and operating support. The Asheville Area Arts Council has been administering the Grassroots grant to arts organizations across Buncombe County for over 40 years. Applications for the 2022-23 grant cycle open August 15.

The Arts Build Community Grant program was created by the Asheville Area Arts Council in 2018, and supports innovative, arts-based projects that inspire diverse groups of participants to be more civically-engaged by creating together. Priority is given to projects based in low-income neighborhoods, Title 1 public schools, and communities in need. Applications for this grant open September 15.

A small portion of the block grant funding will support the arts council’s economic reporting initiatives with the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce’s Riverbird Research division, such as the Creative Jobs and Creative Sector Earnings reports published by the arts council last year.

To learn more about the arts councils grant programs and reporting initiatives, visit ashevillearts.com.