Tryon Fine Arts Center seeks to become N.C. Arts Council Designated County Partner to enhance Polk County arts

People enjoy an outdoor show at the Tryon Fine Arts Center's Peterson Amphitheater. Photo by Chris Bartol/Courtesy of TFAC

To further enhance the arts in Polk County by helping the process of local arts organizations receiving state arts grants, Tryon Fine Arts Center is seeking to become a N.C. Arts Council Designated County Partner.

For the last decade, Tryon Fine Arts Center – or TFAC – has been a provisional partner with the N.C. Arts Council, said Andy Millard, a board director for TFAC.

The Council is a division of the N.C. Dept. of Natural and Cultural Resources, a state agency that distributes Grassroots grants to arts organizations throughout North Carolina to help give citizens access to high quality arts experiences.

In addition to providing enrichment to the lives of citizens, the arts impact economic development. “A vibrant arts community helps draw business to an area because of the improved quality of life available for the workforce there,” Polk County Manager Marche Pittman said.

Polk County is one of only a handful of counties without a permanent or designated N.C. Arts Council Partner, Millard said. Instead, the state has approached TFAC every year as a provisional partner to distribute Grassroots grants in Polk County. At the suggestion of the N.C. Arts Council, TFAC was encouraged to apply to become a Designated County Partner. The state is expected to make its decision in June.

“Although we recognize to a large extent that we do have a leadership responsibility within the arts community here because we are one of the larger, longer lived arts groups and we have the performance space and big physical campus and therefore by default are a leader in the arts community, TFAC did not want to give the impression that we were taking over the arts here,” Millard said. “But it came to the point in the last year or so when we realized that in order to serve the rest of the arts community the very best we can, we really did need to step up and take this on with an attitude of cooperation and service with all the other arts organizations.”

Prior to officially seeking to become a N.C. Arts Council Designated County Partner, the TFAC board of directors met with representatives from other arts organizations in Polk County, Millard said. “As we talked about it and the opportunities down the road for the arts in general in Polk County, every single organization we spoke with said we needed to do this,” he said.

The Polk County Board of Commissioners also recently voted to approve TFAC’s decision to apply to become the N.C. Arts Council Designated Partner for Polk County, a designation that will require no local, county government funding.

The primary job of Designated County Partners is to distribute the Grassroots grants and serve as a voice for the arts within their communities, Millard said.

Partners also provide “a place where the various arts groups can come together and promote the arts as a whole and participate in economic development for the county,” he said.

“One of the things that makes Polk County special and has for a long time is that we have a lot of artists and performers and a rich tradition of a variety of arts,” Millard said.

Located at 34 Melrose Avenue, Tryon Fine Arts Center’s mission is to serve as the creative driving force for performances, exhibits, arts education and community partnerships in the Foothills. Visit tryonarts.org or call (828) 859-8322 to learn more about TFAC.