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About Us

Our Story

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.

Value Proposition

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.

Diversity Commitment

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. 

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Our Future

Visioning Roadmap

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.

Our Team

Howard Upchurch

Howard Upchurch

Interim President and CEO

Shannon Stokes

Shannon Stokes

Vice President of Strategy and Community Impact

Susan Brittain

Susan Brittain

Director of Foundation Relations

Craig Mounce

Craig Mounce

Building and Maintenance Manager

Justin Feimster

Justin Feimster

Production Coordinator

Miguel Londoño

Miguel Londoño

Lead Custodian

Rebecca Bender

Rebecca Bender

COO and Chief of Staff

Corinne Bass

Corinne Bass

Director of Programming

Cécile Boynton

Cécile Boynton

Community Grants and Services Manager

Eric Turpin

Eric Turpin

Venue and Facility Services Manager

Ella Coyne

Ella Coyne

Gallery and Artist Services Fellow

Katie Hall

Katie Hall

CMO and Vice President of Development

Leo Morello

Leo Morello

Director of Production

Cory Jones

Cory Jones

Database and Operational Support Manager

Joshua Ling

Joshua Ling

Front of House Coordinator & Marketing Fellow

Brianna Cantwell

Brianna Cantwell

Corporate Communications Fellow

Board of Trustees

Dr. Lynn Anthony  

Senior Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs, Wake Forest

School of Medicine

Chad Cheek, Chair

President & Owner, Elephant In The Room

Iris Cole 

CEO and Co-Founder, She Raises the Bar

Clare Fader

Founder of Fader Real Estate

Linda Gaskins

Community Volunteer

Cindy Gendrich

Professor of Theatre, Wake Forest University


Whitney Harness

Executive Director, Delta Fine Arts

Shannon Henry

Community Volunteer

Sue Henderson

Executive Director, Wake Forest University's Face to Face Forum

Mike Lancaster

President/CEO, Frank L. Blum Construction Company

Robin Miller

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

Stephanie Pace Brown

President & CEO, Visit Winston-Salem

Erica Palmiter

Director of the Public Art Commission of the City of Winston-Salem

Courtney Payne Benfield

Triad Market Executive, Bank of America

Kenneth Pettigrew

Executive Director, Winston Lake YMCA

Peggy Reingold 

Community Volunteer

Ben Schwab

Partner, Stitch Design Shop

Claire Tuttle 

Community Volunteer and Consumer Advocate

Howard Upchurch, Vice Chair

Interim President & CEO of Arts Council of Winston-Salem & Forsyth County

Jake Wharton 

Partner, Womble Bond Dickinson

Talitha Vickers

Marketing & Business Development Manager, Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP

Financial Reports

Arts Council's financial reports provide extensive information about our organization's financial and other operating results for the fiscal year covered. 

2021-22 Audit Report / Form 990

2020-21 Audit Report / Form 990

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Find Us


Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts

251 N Spruce Street

Winston-Salem, NC 27101

Hanesbrands Theatre

209 N Spruce Street

Winston-Salem, NC 27101


Monday - Friday  9:00am-9:00pm

Saturday  9:00am-4:00pm

Sunday  closed

Contact Us

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