Grants Help Local Arts Groups Thrive

by | Apr 12, 2023 | Arts

Our thriving arts community is one of the best things about Rowan County but one of the lesser known parts of that community is the Rowan Arts Council https://www.visitrowancountync.com/arts-council/ .

The RAC distributes grants to major arts groups like Salisbury Symphony and Waterworks Visual Arts Center, but more importantly, to smaller groups and individual artists.

Since 2011, the Rowan Arts Council has given more than $448,700 in grant money to local arts organizations. 

In the spring and fall, the board distributes Arts & Cultural Development Grants.

These grants help organizations and individuals expand arts and cultural opportunities to Rowan County, such as arts program development, youth and child-oriented arts and cultural events, diversity and multicultural arts and cultural outreach programs.

A Good Partner

RAC partners with the Rowan County Tourism Authority https://www.visitrowancountync.com/about-us/ to spread the word about arts opportunities in the area. “It is a win/win situation,” says Anne Scott Clement, RAC board chair. “It costs the RAC nothing and provides a wealth of resources.” The council can then give more to local projects.

“It’s important for the RAC to spread the wealth and encourage grassroots programming,” she says.

Learning how to submit an application is the most important thing, she says, “because we’ve reviewed things that don’t fit the criteria at all. We want to encourage people to apply for the right things.”

Some grants focus on multicultural and BIPOC groups — Black, Indigenous and People of Color.

“We’re here to help people navigate the grants,” Anne Scott says.

The best way for an interested group to get started is by going to the RAC website, https://www.visitrowancountync.com/arts-council/ part of VisitRowan, to learn about the grants.


Sabrina Harris holds the keys to the Vibes Arts Incubator. The group has received funds from the Rowan Arts Council grants.

Center for Faith & the Arts recently had a workshop with seniors from Trinity Living Center and children from Partners in Learning. The Faith & the Arts Center recently received a grant from the Rowan Arts Council.

Gathering Information

The NC Arts Council has provided extensive information. Applicants and programs must be in Rowan County. BIPOC grants have a strict set of rules. This encourages artists, creators and entrepreneurs to come up with programming for underserved people.

According to the guidelines, “The Grassroots Arts Program ARPA aims to build sustainability of an arts organization or art programs (beyond projects, investing in operations, and staff). To develop new relationships with BIPOC arts organizations and artists. And to invest in capacity building for your organization (shared trainings, specific capacity-building tailored to your organizations, strategic planning).”

The website further explains the requirements of the grants in a way that will guide applicants through the process.

Children pose with their artwork at an event that used funding from the Rowan Arts Council.

Children pose with their artwork at an event that used funding from the Rowan Arts Council.

Where The Money Goes

If you are interested in applying for an Arts & Cultural Development Grant, check out https://assets.simpleviewinc.com/simpleview/image/upload/v1/clients/salisbury/ACD_Grant_Form_98232549-3658-4a70-89f0-d64d22b635b5.pdf

For more information and to find assistance, contact rowanarts@visitsalisburync.com . These grants have deadlines each spring and fall.

The general RAC funds are divided into fifths – for Lee Street Theatre https://leestreet.org , Piedmont Players https://piedmontplayers.com , Waterworks Visual Arts Center https://www.waterworks.org , Salisbury Symphony https://salisburysymphony.org and the RAC https://www.visitrowancountync.com/arts-council/ . Each of those organizations has a representative on the board, which includes at-large members, as well.

The rest of the grants must go to multicultural and BIPOC groups.

Recent awards went to Happy Roots https://www.happyrootsnc.org for Earth Dam Jam 2023 https://www.happyrootsnc.org/earth-day-jam-2023, a fundraiser for its ongoing work with school and community gardens, horticulture therapy and environmental stewardship.

“I’m thankful for the Rowan Arts Council for helping us bring national touring artists to Salisbury. We have applied (for grants) a few times and received something every time, the largest from the American Rescue Plan Act,” says Ashley Honbarrier, executive director.

The Town of Spencer also received funds, for planned murals in town.

Multicultural grants went to Downtown Salisbury Inc., which is redoing its website to be more inclusive, Right Brain 2 Inc., which seeks to make arts accessible and affordable for children and young adults of Rowan County; the Center for Faith & the Arts http://www.faithart.net , and the N.C. Museum of Dolls, Toys and Miniatures in Spencer, https://ncmdtm.org


Happy Roots got a grant from the Rowan Arts Council this year to help with Earth Day Jam, a benefit for the program.

Happy Roots got a grant from the Rowan Arts Council this year to help with Earth Day Jam, a benefit for the program.

Happy Recipient

Sabrina Harris, who created Vibes: The Arts Incubator, and Right Brain 2, says, “The grants keep the programs going. It is not always a lot of money, but some is better than zero. It increases visibility and it shows that we have a community that will support art programs.”

Grant applications are available online https://www.visitrowancountync.com/arts-council/grants/

or may be picked up at the Rowan Arts Council office, 204 E. Innes St, Suite 280, Salisbury, Monday-Friday between 9 am and 4 pm. Rowan Arts Council will also mail applications and guidelines upon request.

For questions or more information, contact Rowan Arts Council at 704-638-3100 or email pullium@visitrowancountync.com

Sabrina Harris holds the keys to the Vibes Arts Incubator. The group has received funds from the Rowan Arts Council grants.

Sabrina Harris holds the keys to the Vibes Arts Incubator. The group has received funds from the Rowan Arts Council grants.

Performers at the Southern Soul Music Festival in East Spencer, which received a grant from the Rowan Arts Council.

Upcoming Arts Events

Piedmont Players will present the fun musical ‘Kinky Boots’ the last two weekends of April and the first weekend in May.


Piedmont Players — “Kinky Boots,” April 21-12, 28-30 and May 5-7; Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm; Sundays at 2:30 pm, Meroney Theatre, 213 S. Main St., Salisbury. Based on true events, this big-hearted hit tells the story of two people with nothing in common — or so they think. Charlie is a factory owner struggling to save his family business. Lola is a fabulous entertainer with a wildly exciting idea. With a little compassion and a lot of understanding, this unexpected pair learns to embrace their differences and creates a line of sturdy stilettos unlike any the world has ever seen! But in the end, their most sensational achievement is their friendship. Music by Cyndi Lauper. For tickets, visit https://piedmontplayers.com/show/kinky-boots/ or call 704-633-5471.

Salisbury Symphony — Celebrating Sondheim, April 29, Keppel Auditorium, Catawba College, 2300 W. Innes St., Salisbury. Stephen Sondheim was one of Broadway’s most innovative and unique composers. Hear some of his most iconic and fun selections from his many shows from his first hit, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” through the spooky “Sweeney Todd” and “Assassins” to the fairy tale “Into the Woods.” For tickets, visit https://salisburysymphony.org/shows/celebrating-sondheim/#

Waterworks Visual Arts Center — Jr. ART pop: Wire-wrapped Insect Sculpture/Jewelry, Saturday, April 22, 123 E. Liberty St. Young artists will use wire to make colorful jewelry or miniature sculpture/s inspired by butterflies, beetles, dragonflies or spiders. Creatives will explore basic wire wrapping skills, use tools to bend and shape wire, and embellish wire designs with beads and other media. To register, visit https://www.waterworks.org/make-youth-and-family-workshops

For adults and teens, Leather Jewelry, a one-day workshop, Saturday, April 22, 10 am-2 pm. Adults and teens will create unique leather jewelry. Participants will learn about the tools, materials and techniques needed to cut, stamp and paint leather.

Participants will create a brooch, necklace and/or a pair of earrings. Each design will be a one-of-a-kind piece of wearable art. https://www.waterworks.org/make-adult-studio-classes


About The Author

Deirdre Parker Smith

I grew up in the theater; my father was a set designer and my mother was an actress. My most magical memories are from the days when we worked on stage and backstage together. My father, James “Parkie” Parker was a well-respected member of the theatre arts department at Catawba College for 33 years. Though I was born in New York City, and lived for a time in Washington, D.C., I graduated from Salisbury High School and Wake Forest University and was a writer and editor at the Salisbury Post for 35 years. Watching talented people do their thing is a great joy — acting, singing, playing an instrument, painting, drawing, writing. I’ve been lucky to meet many awesome creative people over the years. Art, in all its forms, heals people, makes connections and gives us a deep joy.