“Both indoor and outdoor spaces closed, and we all shifted to working from home and providing material and programmatic offerings virtually,” says Chase Law, Arts Council president and CEO. “Creative individuals and arts organizations in our community have worked hard to keep their audiences engaged.”
Those efforts include using virtual platforms and forging new partnership and collaborations.
“We are so proud of the talented individual artists and vibrant arts and cultural organizations and programs that have set the standards for others to follow,” Law says. “And we are proud of the innovation that has developed from this last year.”
The Arts Council of Winston-Salem & Forsyth County owns and operates three theaters and two gallery spaces.
Those spaces showcase performances, events, visual arts, and more from a variety of arts and cultural organizations and artists throughout the year. In addition, our spaces are made available to the public through key partnerships and rentals.
The Arts Council was formed on Aug. 9, 1949, by the Junior League of Winston-Salem as the first arts council in the country, with $7,200 of seed money. At that time, it became the model for how to support arts and culture to maximize benefits for the community.
This year, the Arts Council is focused on relief, recovery and safely and efficiently reopening.
“Of course, we are doing this through the lens of the arts and cultural sector reemerging, but this is also about our entire community reemerging and coming back together,” Law says. “As this year unfolds, we will see more and more activity and vibrancy come back to our community that has been missing since last March, and we cannot wait to see the entire community there with us.”
The Arts Council has reopened its galleries and gift shop and is working closely with partners to plan upcoming events and activities.
“We have been drawn closer together by the experience of this last year, and are working to become more effective in sharing resources,” Law says. “This is about all of us reemerging and reestablishing a feeling of community that is even stronger than that of pre-COVID.”
Ove the past year, The Arts Council invested more than $1.2 million in funding through several grant programs and initiatives, including Artist Support and Relief, CARES funding for arts and cultural organizations, operational and programming support and arts-in-education.
Each year, the Arts Council conducts an annual Community Fund for the Arts Campaign to raise money for grants to local arts and cultural organizations and individual artists.
Behind the scenes, The Arts Council is developing a strategic plan and vision that will keep the organization strong and vibrant well into the future. In addition to advocacy, The Arts Council will expand community outreach “to bridge gaps, break down barriers and respond to needs throughout Winston-Salem and Forsyth County,” Law says.
“While we will always have the lens of arts, culture and creativity, we also will be thinking more broadly,” Law says. “The Arts Council is committed to keeping our community connected and making sure that the arts are accessible to ALL residents of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County.”