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History

What’s beyond those red doors? Passersby in Downtown Fayetteville might wonder about the building at 301 Hay St. Is there a gallery in there? What do they do?

From visual art exhibits to events and lifelong learning through workshops and school programming, the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County provides education and cultural enrichment for our community. And it has been hard at work for more than 40 years.

Founded in 1973, the Arts Council proudly supports individual creativity, cultural preservation, economic development and lifelong learning through the arts.

As a link between artists, arts and cultural organizations and the community, the Arts Council administers programs in partnership with a variety of local agencies to stimulate community development through the arts.

Key dates in Arts Council history:

  • May of 1973: Held the first Sunday-on-the-Square, a downtown street arts festival, held as a fundraiser to hire a director and establish the organization.
  • 1975: Completed the first full year of operation. Staff grew from one to four and offices were in a building more than a century old known as the “Arsenal House.”
  • Spring of 1975: Spectra, North Carolina’s first community arts magazine, was born.
  • November 1987: Moved offices into the current building at 301 Hay St., which was originally a post office and later a library.
  • Fall 2000: Took on producing the more than 20-year-old International Folk Festival, as well as the inaugural A Dickens Holiday. 
  • 2011: Conducted the Arts & Economic Prosperity Survey, which demonstrated a $53.7 million economic impact of nonprofit arts and culture organizations and their audiences in Cumberland County.
  • Nov. 23, 2012: Welcomed special guest Gerald Charles Dickens, great-great grandson of Charles Dickens, from Oxford, England, to the 13th annual A Dickens Holiday. 
  • March 2013: 1,446 students were among the more than 5,600 visitors to the galleries during “Anne Frank: A History for Today” on loan from the Anne Frank Center in New York. 
  • 2013: On behalf of the City and County, hired a firm to conduct a feasibility study for a Cultural Arts Center/facilities.
  • July 2015: Contracted with The Cultural Planning Group to study and consult regarding development of a Downtown Arts and Entertainment District Plan and a Public Art Plan.
  • September 2016: Celebrated culture with more than 100,000 visitors in downtown Fayetteville during the 38th International Folk Festival.
  • 2016: Passed a milestone of more than $11 million in direct funding to support the community through cultural arts programs and services. 
  • 2017: Facilitating the development of an Arts & Entertainment District in the city's core.

Today, the Arts Council’s website – which has the absolute best URL address: www.TheArtsCouncil.com – publishes opportunities for artists as well as promotes the community’s arts, culture and history activities on its Cultural Calendar.