From the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains to the beaches of the Atlantic coast, North Carolina Humanities has been connecting and inspiring the communities it serves for 50 years. Founded in 1972, North Carolina Humanities has grown from a small committee dedicated to directing funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) into a robust nonprofit organization and one of the largest and oldest cultural funders in a state of 10 million people. In the fall of 2022, North Carolina Humanities announced more than $135,000 in large grants to nine cultural organizations for humanities projects happening across the state, as part of its annual grants program.
Through a combination of ongoing initiatives and grant-funded projects, North Carolina Humanities is working to foster understanding, empathy, and appreciation for the people and ideas that make North Carolina unique. Partnerships with libraries, museums, schools, and other educational and cultural institutions enable North Carolina Humanities to bring thoughtful, relevant humanities programming to every corner of the state. As the designated North Carolina Center for the Book, an affiliate program of the Library of Congress, North Carolina Humanities supports programs with a particular emphasis on increasing a passion for reading, literacy, and community dialog.
As part of their 50th anniversary celebrations, North Carolina Humanities launched North Carolina Reads, a statewide book club featuring five selections that explore contemporary social issues and challenges facing North Carolinians, the program proving popular enough to return in 2023. Starting in September 2022, North Carolina Humanities brought the Smithsonian Institution’s “Crossroads: Change in Rural America” exhibition to the state for a six-stop tour that runs through June 2023.
In addition to its own programs, North Carolina Humanities empowers local organizations to create and maintain meaningful exhibitions, host public events, and more. Located in northwestern North Carolina, Blowing Rock Art and History Museum (BRAHM) is the only cultural institution dedicated to art and history in the region. In 2020, BRAHM was awarded a Community Engagement Grant from North Carolina Humanities to add informational panels to the “Small and Mighty Acts Altar for Black Lives,” which first appeared in Boone, North Carolina, to serve as a space for community grieving and healing in the wake of the death of George Floyd. “We can do the work we do because of financial support from organizations like North Carolina Humanities, individuals, and our museum members. A big goal of ours [is] to find ways for the community to see themselves in the museum, so a lot of the projects that we’ve worked on with North Carolina Humanities have been locally focused exhibitions,” explained Willard Watson, program and outreach director at BRAHM.
NEH thanks North Carolina Humanities for 50 years of partnership and congratulates them on continuing to provide its citizens with experiences that prompt conversations, foster connection, and inspire community. To learn more about North Carolina Humanities, visit nchumanities.org.