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December 3, 2020

Media Contact: Katie Cornell, Asheville Area Arts Council Executive Director, (828) 222-0436,


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December 3, 2020 – Asheville, N.C. The Asheville Area Area Council has awarded $251,000 in business interruption grants to 36 local nonprofit arts organizations through the North Carolina CARES for the Arts grant program.

Arts organizations were among the first to have to close their doors, and many have suffered substantial losses. Asheville Area Arts Council’s latest impact survey from August 2020 shows $18.7 million in lost revenue from the 100+ local arts organizations that completed it. For perspective, there are (were) almost 500 arts organizations and close to 10,000 creative jobs in Buncombe County before the pandemic. 

In September, the North Carolina General Assembly designated $9.4 million federal CARES Act funds for arts councils and arts organizations to mitigate business disruptions caused by COVID-19. The North Carolina Arts Council distributed these funds on a per-capita basis to all North Carolina counties with a population of less than one million people. Buncombe County received an allocation of $299,212.42 to be dispersed by the Asheville Area Arts Council.

Funding from this grant is meant to stabilize the arts council network across the state, as well as provide aid to local arts businesses. The Asheville Area Arts Council was eligible to keep up to 50% of the funding awarded, but elected to regrant $251,000. Nearly 100 nonprofit arts organizations were eligible to apply, and the arts council made sure these organizations were notified of this opportunity to ensure the equitable distribution of these funds. 

The North Carolina CARES for Arts grant is to offset business disruption and/or expenses incurred due to COVID-19 between March 1, 2020, and December 30, 2020. The 36 organizations that applied reported over $4.2 million in eligible expenses, far exceeding the $251,000 the arts council had to award. 

Each organization received a base award of up to $5,000 of their request and an additional 2% based on remaining eligible expenses. The following expenses were considered eligible: paid salaries and benefits (including contractors), on-going operating expenses, costs associated with canceling programs and creating virtual programs, and COVID-related safety and cleaning measures. Applicants were required to provide documentation as evidence for expenses. 

Awards were granted to the following organizations: 

  • Artists Designing Evolution (adé PROJECT)
  • Asheville Art Museum
  • Asheville Choral Society
  • Asheville Community Theatre
  • Asheville Contemporary Dance Theatre
  • Asheville Music School
  • Asheville Symphony Society, Inc.
  • Asheville Writers In The Schools & Communities
  • Attic Salt Theatre Company
  • Aurora Studio & Gallery
  • Black Mountain Center for the Arts
  • Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center
  • Blue Ridge Orchestra
  • Cantaria of Asheville d/b/a Asheville Gay Men's Chorus
  • Center for Craft
  • Connect Beyond Festival
  • Delta House Life Development
  • Different Strokes Performing Arts Collective
  • Immediate Theatre Project
  • LEAF Global Arts
  • Local Cloth, Inc.
  • Montford Park Players
  • North Carolina Glass Center
  • North Carolina Stage Company
  • The Old Depot Association
  • Playground Stage Children's Theatre
  • Raices Emma - Erwin
  • Southern Highlands Craft Guild
  • Street Creature Puppet Collective/Asheville Puppetry Alliance
  • The Asheville Darkroom
  • The Commons Collective LLC
  • The Magnetic Theatre
  • The Sublime Theater & Press, Inc.
  • Western North Carolina Historical Association
  • Womansong
  • Wortham Center for the Performing Arts

“We are incredibly grateful to the NC General Assembly for providing this important aid to our local arts businesses,” said Asheville Area Arts Council Executive Director Katie Cornell. “As we move into 2021, the arts council will continue to track the impact of the pandemic on our local creative economy and to advocate for additional relief aid for the arts here in Buncombe County.” To learn more about the Asheville-Buncombe creative economy and Asheville Area Arts Council’s advocacy efforts, visit



Founded in 1952, the Asheville Area Arts Council (AAAC) is the designated arts agency for Buncombe County. Their mission is to keep the arts at the heart of our community. AAAC fulfills this mission by supporting arts organizations and artists in Buncombe County through advocacy, public art, and services for creatives. Visit the arts council’s website to learn more:


The North Carolina Arts Council builds on our state’s longstanding love of the arts, leading the way to a more vibrant future. The Arts Council is an economic catalyst, fueling a thriving nonprofit creative sector that generates $2.12 billion in annual direct economic activity. The Arts Council also sustains diverse arts expression and traditions while investing in innovative approaches to art-making. The North Carolina Arts Council has proven to be a champion for youth by cultivating tomorrow’s creative citizens through arts education.


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