Rowan Arts Council Grants

by | Sep 30, 2021 | Arts

Art is one of Rowan County’s brightest gems. The Rowan Arts Council’s mission is to encourage and support artists in all forms with grants for their projects.

The pandemic has been a challenge for the group, but their fall grant cycle is here, with submissions due Nov. 1.

Davis Cooke, chair of the Council, wants people to know that the arts are viable and important to the community.

Three kinds of grants are available, the Arts & Cultural Development Grants (ACD), Grassroots Grants, and the Regional Artist Project Grant.

The ACD grants are available for arts and cultural development organizations and individual artists seeking to expand access to arts and cultural opportunities in Rowan County. The grants are designed to support the vision and mission of the Rowan Arts Council by providing direct support to arts and cultural partners in Rowan.

Cooke says the funding comes from the city of Salisbury and the county. “Occasionally individuals or organizations will contribute to this fund, and are encouraged to do so, and very much appreciated.” 

The council “has a greater degree of latitude when it comes to awarding these grants, and the applicant does NOT have to be a non-profit,” Cooke says. “ In fact, our ACD grants are among the few in the area open to individual artists — a fact we like to emphasize, as we’re very proud of it.”

With about $15,000 available per year, RAC was unable to award spring cycle grants, with so many events being canceled.

American Buffalo by sculptor Russell Foster, stands outside Rowan Museum on West Council Street.

The Rowan Arts Council helped fund the Paint the Pavement project, scheduled for spring 2022.

A grant from the Rowan Arts Council funded the Blankets & Bluegrass series this summer at the Hall House.

Fall brings new opportunities.

“We use a 4-point ‘grading’ system based on these categories,” Cooke says:

  • Does the project expand art in Rowan County?
  • What is the expected outreach of the project?
  • Artistic quality
  • Financial feasibility

“One of the advantages to having a diverse board is that we all have different perspectives; we constantly strive to maintain this broad range of experience in the art community when filling seats on our board for this very reason.”

The applications are submitted in time for all members of the board to see them before they meet.

“So, for example, I always put down my preliminary ‘grades’ in pencil, as my opinion often changes based upon the discussion in the meeting itself, where I get the benefit of others’ perspectives. To me, this is the most rewarding part of serving on this board, and I have gotten to know and appreciate so many people during my years there.”

Cooke suggests applicants submit a budget for the project. It doesn’t have to be multiple pages, but “just enough so we can tell what portion of their ask is related directly to artists or the production of the art itself. This helps us in our deliberations as to what is or is not fundable within their project.”

If the council has just $7,500 to award, then they have to determine where the money will go the furthest. “That’s where the 4-point system is most helpful, as we have to weigh the relative merits of each project, and do so in a way that’s fair to everyone, and (we hope) produces the best results for the arts in Rowan County.”

A Rowan Arts Council grant will help with engraving at the Dixonville Cemetery site.

The Rowan Arts Council helped fund the Paint the Pavement project, scheduled for spring 2022.

The 2020 ACD grants went to the artist Clyde, for an alley mural; Center for Faith & the Arts, for Voices From the Edge; Dixonville Memorial, for engraving; DSI Design Committee for street art (this project has been postponed to spring 2022 due to a shortage of the special paint needed) and to Historic Salisbury Foundation, for the Blankets & Bluegrass series; and Megan Wyatt/Jesse Carson.

For full details and links to applications, visit

The goals of the Grassroots Arts Program are to enhance and strengthen the cultural community and broaden the artistic services offered to Rowan County citizens.

The Grassroots grants encompass several counties. Cooke says this year’s portion for Rowan is $35,679, of which $11,060 must be used for multicultural programs.

The applicant MUST be a non-profit organization (such as a 501-c-3).

“We assemble a panel each year comprised of some RAC Board members and others in the community to review these applications. Once the panel has made its recommendations, the RAC reviews the results and issues recommendations.  Finally, the NCArts people review those results and have the final approval over them.”

The 2020 Grassroots grants were given to Piedmont Players of operating costs, Project Cover, an arts program for youth; Rowan Helping Ministries Bridges through Art; Salisbury Public Art for the sculpture show; the town of East Spencer for the festival (a multicultural program); Triple Threat Dance Studio for a virtual arts program.

The first priority in awarding grassroots grant funds is to provide program or operating support to qualified arts organizations (where they exist) including theaters, symphonies, galleries, art guilds, choral societies, dance companies, folk arts societies, writer’s groups, and arts festivals, among others. Grassroots funds are not generally awarded to arts organizations that receive funding through the N. C. Arts Council’s State Arts Resources.

The second priority in awarding grassroots grant funds is to support arts learning and arts in education programs conducted by qualified artists. These can be artist residencies in the schools, after-school summer camps, or adult arts learning classes.

For all the guidelines of the grants, visit


What should artists know to submit a successful grant application?

Anne Scott Clement, director of Waterworks Visual Arts Center offers these tips:

  • All three of these grant programs are considered competitive.
  • Be thoughtful and innovative in the creation of your proposed program or project.  (Is there a need in the community for this type of work? Is there another organization or business already providing this type of program?  Does “your” program enhance something already being done in the community?)
  • The proposed grant submission needs to be compelling and approached/presented/executed in a professional way.
  • The proposed grant needs to reach/benefit as many people in the community as it can, rather than just a finite number of individuals.
  • Be realistic, the range of requested funds should be in line with the amount of funds available to distribute.
  • Complete the application in its entirety; follow directions and submit all required documentation/financials.


The Regional Artist Project Grants provide an award for individuals and groups of unincorporated artists to pursue projects that further enhance their artistic development by attending a professional development experience or purchasing/renting a piece of equipment. The grants are for Mecklenburg, Cabarrus, Cleveland, Gaston, Lincoln, and Rowan counties.

Artists representing visual, craft, performing, traditional, and interdisciplinary art forms are encouraged to apply. Applicants should demonstrate a commitment to spending a significant portion of their time on their work as artists. The Artist Support Grants will support projects occurring between January 1, 2022, and December 31, 2022, but all funds should be expended by June 30, 2022. Artists may request up to $3,000. Those applications selected for funding will receive the full award they are eligible for.

For complete submission guidelines and detailed explanations, visit

The grant application can now be completed and submitted entirely online. The Rowan Arts Council will also mail applications and guidelines upon request. Applications may be mailed to the RAC Office at 204 E Innes Street, Ste. 280, Salisbury, NC 28144, emailed to .

Call 704-638-3100 to reach the council.

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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.