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From Apex to Zebulon and everywhere in between, The United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County (United Arts) partners with businesses, individuals, foundations, and government to reach over 1.2 million people across Wake County annually through its grants, programs, and events. United Arts, a nonprofit organization, has worked for more than 30 years to build a better community through the support of and advocacy for the arts.
Our flagship program, Artists in Schools, places professional teaching artists in K-12 schools for curriculum-based performances, workshops, and residencies. These programs help students learn to problem-solve, work together, and seek creative means toward common goals.
In the 2020-2021 school year, the Artists in Schools program placed artists or arts groups in 105 schools throughout Wake County with 122,000 contact hours reaching 83,000 students. 246 primarily virtual programs included writer residencies, arts residencies or workshops, and music, dance, and theatre performances. The Artists in Schools Expo occurs annually, bringing together artists and community members who schedule cultural arts programming.
United Arts believes we need creative individuals to inspire us, enlighten us, and cross boundaries to bring us together through art. Our Artist Support Grants fund professional and artistic development for emerging and established artists to create work, improve their business operations, or bring their work to new audiences. Artist Support Grants support a broad range of talented artists in the disciplines of visual arts, performing arts, literary arts, and interdisciplinary arts. Individual artists and small, unincorporated groups of collaborating artists who have lived in Chatham, Harnett, Johnston, Lee, or Wake County for at least one year are eligible to apply for grants up to $1,500.
Through our Municipal Murals program, United Arts has worked with the towns of Fuquay-Varina, Garner, Wake Forest, Zebulon, Wendell, and most recently, Apex to create new murals in their towns. With support from the Wake County Government, United Arts is now closer to its goal of a mural in all 12 Wake County municipalities.
In 2020 United Arts also awarded 48 grants totaling $308,778 to 45 local arts and cultural organizations, schools, and municipalities to support classes, festivals, productions, emerging groups, youth art programs, and more. Grants are awarded each year in the following categories: Arts for Municipalities Grants to ensure broad access to the arts, Cultural Access Grants to support diverse arts programming, Youth Arts Grants to provide educational arts activities for students outside of school, New Generation Grants for arts organizations less than eight years old, Arts Services Grants to organizations that provide services and technical assistance for other arts organizations, and School Projects Grants for schools with innovative and creative projects that enhance arts education in Wake County.
Each year United Arts is proud to partner with the Wake County Public School System for the Pieces of Gold student talent showcase and Gifts of Gold featuring student artwork. Pieces of Gold, a Wake County staple for more than 30 years, features 1,000 Wake County Public School System students singing, dancing, and performing to a packed Memorial Auditorium each March.
Since 1990, United Arts and the Raleigh Chamber have teamed up to present the annual Business Support of the Arts Awards to recognize businesses, organizations, and individuals for their outstanding contributions toward building a strong and vibrant arts community.
United Arts is honored to continue our strong partnership with the Wake County Commissioners and the North Carolina Arts Council, as well as private funders and supporters, to create a community where the arts and culture are available and accessible to everyone in Wake County.
Because, together, WE MAKE ART HAPPEN across Wake County!
United Arts began in 1962 with the formation of the Raleigh Cultural Center. That organization later became known as the Wake County Arts Council. In 1989, the organization merged with the Capital Area Arts Foundation, and the United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County was born.