NC Arts Council Under-Spending in East

Wilmington, NC – When the North Carolina Arts Council recently broke down its funding by region, the group discovered it gives nearly three times as much grant money to artists and groups in the mountains as it does east of Interstate 95, according to new figures from the group.

Those figures do not include statewide touring productions the council sponsored. The Arts Council new "Cartwheels" program of touring shows visited nine eastern communities this past year.

The Council's calculations came up with $1.27 per capita arts spending in mountain counties, $1.08 in urban Piedmont counties, $.47 in the rural and suburban Piedmont, and $.46 in the eastern part of the state.

Arts Council Executive Director Mary Regan blames that disparity in part on a lack of strong local arts groups in eastern counties, and says her group may have to think differently about funding those arts projects that are in the counties.

"When you're in an area that doesn't have a critical mass of people, you know, that can really generate a lot of funding for these kind of programs," Regan said, "I think maybe the state needs to think about doing programs and sticking with them for longer periods of time."

According to Regan, the Council may also try to work with existing organizations, like school systems or community colleges, "while at the same time, we would like to be helping to build the arts infrastructure in the East."

Regan says members of the state arts council are meeting this week with leaders of Wilmington's arts community about how to strengthen the Port City's own arts council.

Regan says the North Carolina Arts Council is considering creating regional positions to help local all-volunteer arts councils in rural North Carolina to build up their own organizations.