On August 9, 1949, Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County became the first locally-established arts council in the United States. The Junior League of Winston-Salem brought national community arts consultant Virginia Lee Comer to town in 1943 to study the cultural life of the community. Her strategy for cultural planning was to build connections between the community and its arts activities. Seed money of $7,200 was set aside by the Junior League in 1946, and in 1949, representatives from twelve cultural groups convened to form the arts council. Our earliest purpose was "to serve those members and to plan, coordinate, promote, and sponsor the opportunity for, and the appreciation of, cultural activities in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County." As the chief advocate of arts and culture in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, we are eager to push our arts and cultural sector to the next level. This will require us to explore new ideas, expand our reach, and respond to needs of our community through the lens of arts, culture, and creativity.
Arts Council is the chief advocate of the arts and cultural sector in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. Our goal is to serve as a leader in lifting up, creating awareness and providing support to grow and sustain artistic, cultural and creative offerings throughout our region. We acknowledge that it takes every voice, every talent, and every story to make our community a great place to live, work, and play. Arts Council is committed to serving as a facilitator, organizer, and promoter of conversations that are authentic, inclusive, and forward-thinking.
Arts Council respects and values the full spectrum of self-defining differences among people. Arts Council is committed to reflecting that diversity in the composition of its Board and staff, and throughout all aspects of Arts Council’s operations, including in the outcomes and other impacts of its work. Anchored by that core commitment, Arts Council strives proactively to promote an environment and experiences in our community that includes, celebrates and supports, in an equitable manner, the needs, perspectives and contributions of all people in our diverse community.
Arts Council's Impact on Our Community
Thanks to Arts Council's 2023 Community Fund for the Arts, we invested $1.2 million in grants, awards, and programs for artists and organizations in FY23. Arts Council is in the process of making FY24 allocations to support annual grants from monies received from our annual operating budget.
Through the Forsyth County American Rescue Plan Act and the City of Winston-Salem's Transformational Grant, Arts Council is further stewarding $5.5 million of financial support for arts and cultural programming across Forsyth County.
Following a discovery period and series of planning sessions, Next Stage has developed a roadmap outlining the vision and strategic direction for Arts Council of Winston-Salem & Forsyth County informed by a Strategic Visioning Task Force and board and staff leadership at a recent retreat. This roadmap articulates four (4) overarching goals with nine (9) objectives in service to them. The goal setting builds upon feedback received by the organization, summarized as a part of Next Stage’s Current Conditions Memo published in December 2021.
Next Stage recommends this strategic planning roadmap memo for review and endorsement by Arts Council’s CEO and board of directors ahead of a second phase of work to build an implementation strategy including strategies and tactics to realize it.
Board of Trustees
Dr. Lynn Anthony
Senior Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs, Wake Forest
School of Medicine
Senior Vice President of Clinical Operations and Chief Operating Officer of Clinical Service Lines, Atrium Heath Wake Forest Baptist
Managing Partner, Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP
President & Owner, Elephant In The Room
CEO and Co-Founder, She Raises the Bar
Founder of Fader Real Estate
Project Manager, East Coast Capital
Executive Director, Wake Forest University's Face to Face Forum
Associate Vice President, Space & Master Planning, Wake Forest School of Medicine
Governance & Strategic Advisor Board Secretary, Northeastern University
President/CEO, Frank L. Blum Construction Company
President and CEO, Arts Council of Winston-Salem & Forsyth County
Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, Novant Health
Private Banker, First Citizens Bank and First Citizens Wealth Management
Dr. Rosa Otero
Director of Visual and Performing Arts and School of Music Administration, Salem College
Courtney Payne Benfield
Triad Market Executive, Bank of America
Executive Director, Winston Lake YMCA
Executive Vice President, Chief Legal Officer, Chief Compliance Officer, and Corporate Secretary, HanesBrands, Inc.
Senior Vice President of Marketing and Customer Engagement, Flow Automotive Companies
Community Volunteer and Consumer Advocate
Partner, Womble Bond Dickinson
Principal and CEO of Deeper Dive Consulting
Marketing & Business Development Manager, Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP
Arts Council's Annual Reports provide extensive information about our organization's financial and other operating results for the fiscal year covered. In addition to recognizing all of our donors, each Annual Report includes a message from our Board Chair and/or President and CEO, information about recipients of Arts Council grants and other direct financial support, and information about programming and the multi-faceted support services Arts Council provides to numerous arts organizations and individual artists who comprise our community’s vibrant and diverse arts constellation.
Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts
251 N Spruce Street
Winston-Salem, NC 27101
209 N Spruce Street
Winston-Salem, NC 27101
Monday - Friday 9:00am-9:00pm