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North Carolina Arts Council | Art Matters
In this issue | May 2021
  • Executive Director Wayne Martin announces departure from the N.C. Arts Council
  • Staff updates
  • South Arts recognizes five Appalachian North Carolina folk artists 
Executive Director Wayne Martin announces departure from the N.C. Arts Council
Wayne MartinAfter a 34-year career characterized by a deep and enduring commitment to the North Carolina Arts Council’s founding mission of “arts for all people,” Wayne Martin announced this week that he will leave the agency at the end of the year.   
Over the course of his career, Wayne has worked to bring statewide and national investment in and recognition of our state’s rich and diverse arts community. He oversaw the development of North Carolina’s nationally recognized cultural heritage trails, co-created the North Carolina Heritage Award program, and was instrumental in the creation of the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park, the pilot project of the Arts Council’s SmART Communities initiative. He also documented and produced recordings for some extraordinary North Carolina musicians, three of whom—Etta Baker, Doug Wallin, and Joe Thompson—were subsequently awarded the National Heritage Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts.
During his time with the Arts Council, Wayne has been its folklife director, creative economies director, and executive director, a position he assumed in May 2012. Under his directorship, the Arts Council’s annual budget rose from $7.1 million to $9.7 million. Additionally, Wayne, in collaboration with former Arts Council board chair Bobby Kadis, board member John Willingham, and staff colleague Ardath Weaver, created the North Carolina Arts Foundation, which to date has received more than $3 million from the private sector to support the Arts Council’s work. Most recently, he has been guiding the Arts Council through the pandemic crises, an endeavor that has included overseeing the distribution of $17.3 million in grants to arts organizations and artists—by far the largest amount of assistance to the field ever awarded in one year.
Wayne plans to continue advocating for the arts in our state after he leaves the Arts Council in December. 
Staff updates
Brenna McCallumLast month, Brenna McCallum accepted a new position within the agency: research director. Brenna has a bachelor of arts from Appalachian State University in art and visual culture, with a concentration in art management and a minor in nonprofit management. She lived and interned at the Penland School of Craft for a summer, helping to execute the organization's annual benefit auction. Before her new appointment, she served the Arts Council for three years as a program administrator, providing logistical and operational support for the agency's leadership, board of directors, marketing, and folklife teams. Brenna is a strong believer in the inherent value of art in people's everyday lives, and as a lens through which to understand our shared humanity. She looks forward to exercising her natural curiosity to investigate the agency's impact and to contribute to its guiding edict of "arts for all people." Contact Brenna at
Sandra DavidsonSandra Davidson also accepted a new position within the agency: marketing and communications director. In her previous roles as content strategist and content director at the Arts Council, Sandra produced the 50 for 50 project and directed content and developed programs for Come Hear North Carolina. Contact Sandra at
South Arts recognizes five Appalachian North Carolina folk artists
5 Appalachian woman NC folk artists
Five artists from North Carolina received the 2021 South Arts “In These Mountains” Folk and Traditional Artist Master Artist Fellowships: Ashleigh Shanti (Asheville), Betty Maney (Cherokee), Mary W. Thompson (Cherokee), Mary Greene (Boone), and Theresa Gloster (Lenoir). This fellowship program recognizes the commitments of Appalachian artists who steward the traditional arts and practices of their communities. 
In case you missed it
A+ Schools of North Carolina has selected 10 new A+ apprentice fellows. This cohort spans the state from Clinton to Banner Elk and is the most diverse in the history of A+ Schools. Sixty percent of the 2021 apprentice fellows are artists and/or educators of color and they bring expertise in dance, theater, music, and K-12 education. Read more about the fellows on our blog
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Our deputy director, Dr. Tamara Holmes Brothers, recently reflected on the significance of Boundless, a new sculpture being created by Stephen Hayes for the Cameron Art Museum, in Wilmington.
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North Carolina Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green helped us celebrate National Poetry Month in a letter to North Carolina youth and by interviewing the 2021 N.C. Poetry Out Loud Champion, Meziah Smith, of Knightdale.
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Vicki Vitiello, the Arts Council’s director of operations, spoke with CBS 17 about the pandemic’s ongoing impact on North Carolina’s arts sector.
In the news
In the news
In its first distribution of funds from the American Rescue Plan, the National Endowment for the Arts recommended an award of $902,300 to the North Carolina Arts Council. This emergency funding is designed to support the arts sector as it recovers from the devastating impact of the pandemic. The Arts Council is developing a strategy to distribute these funds to the state’s arts network. More on that soon. 
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John Dee Holeman, a bluesman, buck dancer, National Heritage Fellowship recipient, and North Carolina Heritage Award recipient, died on Friday, April 30. He was 92. 
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North Carolina filmmakers may apply now for the Filmed in NC Fund, a partnership of Cucalorus and the North Carolina Film Office that supports the production of independent film and video projects. Applications are due on May 19.
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The Durham Performing Arts Center is a finalist for Pollstar’s Theatre of the Decade
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Duke University’s Office of the Provost selected 17 projects for funding through the Duke Endowment to study “Reckoning with Race, Racism, and the History of the American South.” Several artists, including N.C. Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green and musician Tift Merritt, received funding for North Carolina-based work. 
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North Carolina’s Sherrill Roland, who received the Southern Prize last year, is now represented by Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, in New York City. 
One last thing...

If you haven’t yet watched Swan Lake: Cancelleda short film by the University of North Carolina School of the Arts—it’s time to do so. Brighter days are headed our way.
The arts are essential to North Carolina’s recovery. If you agree, consider supporting the North Carolina Arts Foundation today. 

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