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Grantee Spotlight: Katelyn Murphy

Updated: May 11, 2023

Meet the author and creator of a children's book that introduces young victims of domestic violence and sexual assault to the advocates they will encounter during their journey to safety.

Editorial by Devra Thomas, Arts Journalist

In addition to expressing creativity or advocating change, the arts can help comfort or provide hope. The Arts Council’s Mini Grant program is useful to people who are trying to do all those things with their art. Such was Katelyn Murphy’s purpose in creating felt puppets of Cumberland County judges, district attorneys, deputies, and other important people who work within the Domestic Violence system, to help comfort the young clients going through the system.

Murphy’s books – The People You Will Meet and Safe Places To Go – were both born out of her work at the Phoenix Center as a Victim Advocate. As she began to have the same conversations with clients at the Center about the people they would see in the courtrooms and where should be safe to stay, she realized making felt characters of these people and places would give the victims a way to feel some comfort in an uncomfortable situation.

Distributing the book for free was vitally important to Murphy. She did not want cost to be a barrier to people receiving it. That’s where the Mini Grant came in.

“I was talking to my coworker about the book one day and they mentioned seeing a Facebook post from the Arts Council about the Mini Grant program. Then I heard one of the lawyers in the courtroom mention it,” she said.

Using the Mini Grant to cover art supplies and printing expenses allowed Murphy to be able to give away the book for free through the Phoenix Center and the Department of Social Services.

Murphy would love to see the book distributed through the school system. Securing additional grant funding and individual donations will enable her to print more copies for this purpose. She wants to make sure whoever needs the book will be able to find it.

Grantee Support

Murphy is a life-long crafter, enjoying drawing and painting, creative writing, even working as a balloon artist at one point. She’d made felt characters before in her artistic practice. She knew this art form, along with an engaging poem to go with the pictures, would put the readers at ease in a way that just talking to them or showing actual photographs would not.

Applying for the Mini Grant was an easy process. “Sarah [Busman] helped with the applications, making suggestions to make it stronger,” Murphy said.

“The relationship between the arts and our community is something we love to see in our grantees,” Busman affirmed. “Katelyn is using her medium to provide comfort for children in some of the scariest situations. Imagine the look of relief on a child's face when they see someone they recognize from Katelyn's book in the courtroom or during an intake!”

Arts Council board member Devin Trego is the lawyer Murphy spoke with. “As an attorney, I carry Katelyn's book in my work tote to share with kids involved in my cases to help them feel more comfortable being in court,” Trego explained. “As an Arts Council board member, I hope that work like Katelyn's book encourages other artists who work outside of the arts and those who may not think they fit the traditional definition of "artist" to apply for Mini Grants. The life experience they've gained outside of the arts takes on new meaning and reaches new audiences when it is expressed through art. This is why the Arts Council staff and board are so supportive of the Mini Grant program - both because it supports emerging artists and expands the reach of their art to new parts of our community.”


The Mini Grant application process includes time with staff to figure out the overlap of an art project and a community need.

The Arts Council encourages anyone who has an idea of how to use an art form in this manner to contact the Grants Department about the Mini Grant program.

Application Deadline is April 14, 2023

Sarah Busman

Arts Education Manager

910-323-1776 ext 1011


About the Arts Council of Fayetteville | Cumberland County

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.

In the year 2021-22, the Arts Council distributed almost $1 million in grant funds and allocations to Cumberland County arts and culture non-profit organizations, artists, and municipalities.

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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