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Arts Council staff selected as review panelists for prestigious grant programs

[Fayetteville, North Carolina] – The Arts Council of Fayetteville|Cumberland County (Arts Council) is pleased to announce that three of its staff have been selected as reviewers for various prestigious grant programs in North Carolina, Kentucky, and throughout the United States. Antonio Renteria, Director of Operations, Kennon Jackson, Jr., Executive Vice President, and Michael Houck, Director of Grants and Allocations, were selected to review agency grants for three different grantmaking programs.

Antonio Renteria served as a grant reviewer for the North Carolina Arts Council’s Spark the Arts grant program that supports arts providers as they re-engage with the public through a combination of programming, marketing, rebuilding staff capacity, and facilitating safety protocols. The Spark the Arts grant program places special emphasis on strategies to engage audiences and participants in organizational programming. Grant applications were reviewed in two tracks based on the applicant’s audience goals: 1) reengagement (bringing audiences back and reimagining engagement with audiences); and 2) inclusion (seeking new audiences and investing in new voices).

“The Sparks the Arts Campaign is a great reminder of the diversity, talent, and creativity of our North Carolina artists,” states Antonio Renteria. “It’s an honor to serve on the grants committee and get a first-hand look at programs across the state designed specifically for public engagement and the revitalization of the arts community here in N.C.”

Antonio also served as a grant review panelist for LexArts in Lexington, Kentucky assessing General Operating Support grants for the organization. Through its General Operating Support Program, LexArts seeks to provide funding to and work in partnership with organizations that enhance the lives of Central Kentuckians through year-round artistic, cultural, and educational programs and activities. LexArts grant program serves as a resource and supportive agency for organizations which affect or alter the cultural climate of the community and by its organization values of collaboration; empowerment; innovation; generosity; innovation; and inclusion, diversity, and equity.

Kennon Jackson Jr. and Michael Houck were selected to serve as panelists for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Challenge America grant program. The NEA is the only arts funder in the United States (public or private) that provides access to the arts in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. Through its grantmaking to thousands of organizations each year, the NEA supports the creative capacity of communities to provide everyone in the United States with diverse opportunities for arts participation. Since 2001, the Challenge America grant program has extended the NEA’s reach by promoting equal access to the arts in communities across the country. The NEA is committed to diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility, and fostering mutual respect for the diverse beliefs and values of all individuals and groups. The Challenge America grant program also offers support primarily to small organizations for projects in all artistic disciplines that extend the reach of the arts to populations that are underserved.

“It is a great honor to serve at the request of the NEA,” states Kennon Jackson Jr. “Many arts organizations across the country continue to struggle in the wake of COVID-19. Our small contribution to the Challenge America grants program creates a sense of pride in knowing that the Arts Council has helped with our time and talent.”



The Arts Council of Fayetteville|Cumberland County is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization based in Fayetteville, NC that supports individual creativity, cultural preservation, economic development, and lifelong learning through the ARTS. As a primary steward of public and private funding for arts, cultural, and historical activities in the Cape Fear Region, all affiliated

programs of the Arts Council exemplify our 5 core values: Excellence, Accountability, Transparency, Collaborations, and Innovation.

Grants, programs, and services of the Arts Council are funded in part by contributions from community partners, and through grants from the City of Fayetteville, Cumberland County, and the N.C. Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural & Cultural Resources.


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