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Arts Council 2017 Annual Campaign “With a Twist” Presents New Giving Options

Winston-Salem, NC.  (April 11, 2017) – Jim Sparrow, President and CEO of The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, is quick to tell you how generous friends of the arts are and how constant their support has been here in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County over the decades.  “But we don’t take them for granted,” he said, “and we understand that giving trends change and that as a nonprofit we have to not just keep up with those trends but stay ahead of them.”

This year the Arts Council’s Annual Campaign goal is $2.81 million. Sparrow said the campaign is proceeding on schedule, but with a bit of a “twist.” The Arts Council has been gradually moving away from a broad, unrestricted-gift campaign to one that aligns contributors’ particular interests with programming supported by The Arts Council. ‘We don’t feel it is enough to just ‘collect and direct’ funds to arts organizations. We have to look at the community and decide what initiatives in our arts world, stated in popular verbiage, we want to own,” said Sparrow, “and then provide an easy way for donors to direct support to them.”

He thinks he has found it. For the first time, as a part of its 2017 Annual Fund Campaign, The Arts Council is asking donors to consider making a gift directly to one of four “Targeted Initiatives” in addition to their normal unrestricted annual fund gift.  The initiatives were identified through  a series of group conversations within the arts community.  “We see these initiatives as cornerstones for the arts,” said Devon MacKay, Annual Fund Director “They go well beyond traditional organizational grants and arts offerings and reach into all corners of our community.” They are Early Learning and After-School Youth Arts Enrichment, Creative Ventures, Art in Unexpected Places, and Novant Health Arts and Healing.

Early Learning and After-School Youth Arts Enrichment

“We see this as a way to make Forsyth County a leader in accessible arts-enrichment for youth by expanding our arts education program to reach infants (birth to age five) and students outside of the public school classroom,” said Sparrow.

The Arts Council has been partnering with the Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools for decades because of its strong belief that it can leverage its dollars by ensuring that children receive a high-quality arts education in the public schools. In addition to the $100,000 it invests in arts enrichment in the schools every year, The Arts Council recently took additional steps to make youth arts enrichment an even bigger priority: It funded $10,000 of professional development for arts teachers who work within the WSFCS and began working more closely with lead arts teachers and their curricula. It has rolled out its first “pilot” year of funding for Early Learning and After-School Youth Arts Enrichment to two arts organizations: Authoring Action and Peppercorn Children’s Theater. One objective is to introduce more children from low-resource families, families with language challenges, and families who don’t live close to downtown Winston-Salem to quality arts enrichment.

Creative Ventures

The Arts Council will provide seed funds and start-up support for new and creative ventures in the arts community.  “We have done well is supporting traditional arts groups but could do more to spark innovation and creative arts entrepreneurship in the broader arts community,” said Sparrow.

“We aim to create a healthy ecosystem of entrepreneurial artists and creative workers drawing inspiration from the world around us, forging new ideas through inter-disciplinary collaboration, and exporting world-class original work that reflects the values and character of our community,” said Sparrow.

“This is the dream, and we believe many of our Annual Fund contributors share this dream and will be willing to give a bit more to help us achieve it. To accomplish this, however, we must provide  resources and remove obstacles to new creative ventures,” Sparrow said. “What is it like for young artists and organizations in our community today? Do their business models look differently than they did 10 or 25 years ago? What is different about their audiences’ appetite for arts and culture? These are some of the questions we want to answer through this initiative.

Art in Unexpected Places

The goal here is simple: Create access to the arts by bringing programs out of traditional museums and concert halls and into welcoming, accessible public spaces.  “In a City of the Arts, residents shouldn’t always have to buy a ticket to experience amazing art. We should encounter it on the streets in unexpected places. We want to partner and support artists with ideas that bring art closer to the people and change the way we see the world,” said Sparrow.

Novant Health Arts and Healing

The healing arts are central to the economy and life of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. Creative arts and cultural experiences for patients and community members provide measurable improvements in the health and wellness of a community. Arts programming at Brenner’s Children Hospital has been in place for some time. Those who depend on music to clear their minds, writing to combat anxiety, and dance to get their heart rate moving know that community health goals are more easily achievable with arts at the table.

Winston-Salem, known as a City of Arts and Innovation, and Forsyth County have a robust arts community that enriches the lives of area residents every day and accounts in large part for the recognition they continue to receive as a great place to live, learn, work and play.  The Arts Council raises funds and advocates for the arts, sponsors events in conjunction with other arts organizations, promotes and funds arts education, creates cultural and learning opportunities, develops social capital and aids economic development.  Last year, The Arts Council made a total of 109 grants totaling $1,807,116.  Organizational Support Grants, $1,398,500; Annual Event & Series, $112,000; Wells Fargo Arts-In-Education Grants, $100,000; Duke Energy Regional Artist Grants, $25,000; Innovative Project Grants, $49,000; and Community Enrichment Mini-Grants, $15,000.

For additional information, please contact

Devon MacKay Director of the Annual Fund The Arts Council of Winston-Salem & Forsyth County (336) 747-1417

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