History and Overview
The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County was formed in 1949, with $7,200 of seed money, by the Junior League of Winston-Salem as the first arts council in the country. At that time, the community’s principal need was for an organization to coordinate and centralize the raising and distribution of funds to support the community’s major arts organizations. We met that need and quickly became a leading model for others, across the country, on how to support the arts and culture to maximize benefits for the community.
Over the ensuing years, The Arts Council’s mission and work have evolved and changed in response to changes in the community and its needs for supporting and promoting the arts and culture. Today, our annual operating budget is approximately [$3 million], and The Arts Council is much more than a centralized solicitor and distributor of funding. Learn more
The Arts Council provides multi-faceted services that support and promote numerous diverse arts organizations, emerging individual artists and arts-based initiatives throughout the community. A central facet is our ownership and operation of several facilities that provide venues for theatrical and other artistic performances, presentations, events and other activities, and that are also the administrative “home” for several arts organizations.
Our array of multi-functional, centrally-located facilities – where theatre, dance, music, film, visual and other arts experiences entertain, educate and enrich, and where diverse people converge to share those experiences – are integral components of the community’s dynamic and vibrant arts and culture scene. They are significant contributors to our community being a “City of Arts and Innovation”.
As a result of the scope and scale of our mission and work, we believe The Arts Council is becoming “the community’s artistic living room”.
The Arts Council’s core mission is ensuring that the empowering and enriching benefits of the arts and culture “touch every corner”, reaching and impacting all members of our diverse community.
The arts and culture have been at the center of both the revitalization of downtown Winston-Salem and the emergence of our broader community as a “City of Arts and Innovation”. Like the members of our community, The Arts Council recognizes that the community’s diverse and vibrant arts and culture scene is a key factor in the attractiveness of the Winston-Salem area as a great place to work and live. Our arts and culture:
entertain, educate and inspire us;
provide jobs, attract visitors who spend at local businesses, and generate local tax revenue;
teach our children skills that promote their future creativity and innovation; and
enrich and empower lives, in every corner of our community.
The most recent economic impact study of our community – conducted in 2015 by Americans For The Arts – reported that 5,559 FTE jobs were created by the arts and culture industry, making it the fourth (4th) largest employment industry in Forsyth County.
The Arts Council has embraced its role as an essential supporter and advocate for sustaining the vibrancy and diversity of the arts and culture in our community. Our operations focus on performing that role as part of our core mission. We continually assess our programs, strategies and initiatives to ensure that our operations are in sync with both our core mission and the community’s evolving needs and strategic goals.