It’s disappointing to learn that the Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, one of our preeminent arts organizations, fell short of its annual fundraising goal for the second time in three years, as the Journal’s Lee O. Sanderlin reported Sunday. Especially in the City of Arts and Innovation, it’s just … wrong.
We hope that arts supporters will help bolster this bedrock member of the community, perhaps with a late donation and, in the future, with a bit of that “innovation” from our city motto. That will be needed to keep the arts properly funded.
The Arts Council, which awards grants to area artists and arts organizations, aimed to raise $2.5 million for 2020. But it only raised $2.25 million. That means that, rather than the $1 million it was able to raise, administrate and disseminate for 2019, it will only have $800,000 to share in 2020.
The Arts Council fell short of its 2018 goal also, but came roaring back for 2019, exceeding its $2.5 million goal.
The organizations supported by the Arts Council include some of the most integral to our collective social and creative lives, such as Bookmarks, the Little Theatre of Winston-Salem, the North Carolina Black Repertory Company, RiverRun International Film Festival and the Winston-Salem Symphony.
Our area is chock-full of talented individuals and dedicated organizations — we’d put them up against any in any area our size and come out ahead.
These organizations work hard to provide the public with uplifting and enlightening programs and performances. Their work generates commerce and tourism. They keep us on the map and give us bragging rights. They enrich and inspire us in ways that TV and the internet fail to do. They’re worthy of public support.
Arts Council President and CEO Randy Eaddy told the Journal that area corporations are not donating the amounts they used to, but while corporate dollars have shrunk, the number of organizations asking for support have increased.
It does seem ironic that corporate support for the arts has fallen while the economy soars and corporate profits (and salaries) skyrocket. But corporations can’t be forced to donate. We’re sure the Arts Council is grateful for what it receives.
But receding support for the arts is a continuous problem, and one that is not unique to our community.
Eaddy and the Arts Council board realize that and they’re not backing down. Eaddy says the Arts Council will seek to raise $2.5 million again next year. “The answer is not to accept [reduced donations] as the new norm,” board member Nigel Alston said. “The needs the arts community has, that hasn’t changed.” He’s right.
“We’ve got to be doing things that take arts and culture to other parts of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, and impact them,” Eaddy said. “Resonate with new people, impact new people and create additional prospective supporters.”
That will help. But more will be needed to keep our lively arts scene alive. New ideas, imagination and innovation will be required to keep them running next year and further into the future.