As a state, North Carolina is known for its progressive approach to supporting the arts. For instance, in 1943 the North Carolina Symphony became the first orchestra in the country to receive state funding. And, in 1971, the Department of Cultural Resources was created as the first state organization in the nation to include all areas of arts and culture under one agency. As a result of these and other strong arts-based initiatives, North Carolina has developed an enduring heritage in a variety of arts and crafts including basket weaving, folk art, furniture making, pottery, dance, and music.

North Carolina is home to many grassroots, non-profits, folk schools, and artist collectives that support creative efforts. In addition, many artists and arts organizations are supported by private donations and local, state, and federal grants. Because of this wide-ranging support, the creative community is an accessible, thriving network of artists, musicians, performers, publishers, skilled craftsmen, manufacturers, and their distribution and support systems that contributes $41 billion worth of products and services to North Carolina each year. Local artisans are creating a rich history rooted in traditional methods that is redefined with each generation thanks to new interpretations of old techniques. In addition, contemporary artists and filmmakers are notably creating a national and international reputation for the North Carolina arts community.

Arts tours offer direct routes to artisans located across the state, while literary and performing arts schedules serve as a reminder of the many opportunities to engage with the arts. We hope you will take this opportunity to explore our state's rich arts and crafts heritage.

back to topGeneral Resources

  • Craft Revival: Shaping Western North Carolina Past and Present
    A project of Hunter Library at Western Carolina University. This is a research-based website that documents the historic effort to revive handcraft in the western part of North Carolina. The project draws from a wealth of documents, photographs, and craft objects that are housed in archival repositories within the region's museums, guilds, and craft schools.
  • Black Mountain College Research Project Collection
    This is a fascinating collection from the State Archives of North Carolina featuring select materials from their extensive holdings including programs, plays, verse sheets, postcards featuring original art work, and much more.
    North Carolina Digital Collections Qualla basketry
  • Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual, Inc.
    The oldest Native American cooperative, Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual, Inc. preserves and promotes the traditional arts and crafts of the Eastern Band of Cherokee.
  • Government & Heritage Library Resources
    The Government & Heritage Library has many resources about arts & crafts in North Carolina.

    In the catalog

    In the digital repository (NC Digital Collections)

    In the NCpedia

  • Directory of Arts and Cultural Organizations
    Access information about county specific arts and cultural organizations using a directory provided by the North Carolina Arts Council.

    North Carolina has a long history of handcrafting. LEARN NC offers instructional resources to help teach students about North Carolina's rich craft heritage. Check them out here.

back to topEconomy and the Arts

back to top Arts Tours

  • North Carolina Arts Trails
    Find unique statewide itineraries and tours for discovery and enjoyment of the living arts and cultural traditions in North Carolina communities. Included are "Discover North Carolina Craft," "Literary Trails of North Carolina," "Blue Ridge Music Trail," "Historic Happy Valley," and more.
  • The Artful Traveler
    The North Carolina Arts Council has pulled together seasonal trip suggestions geared toward the arts-minded traveler.

back to topCraft Schools and Arts Education Centers

    Penland School - Instructor Brian Ransom making a clay horn.
  • Penland School of Crafts
    A national center for craft education located in the Blue Ridge mountains which offers workshops in clay, drawing, glass, iron, metals, photography, printmaking, textiles and wood.
  • John C. Campbell Folk School
    John C. Campbell Folk School provides experiences in non-competitive learning and community life that are joyful and enlivening. Located in scenic Brasstown, North Carolina, the Folk School offers year-round week long and weekend classes for adults in craft, art, music, dance, photography, writing, and more.
  • Pocosin Arts
    Located one block from the Columbia waterfront in eastern N.C., Pocosin Arts offers year-round classes, workshops and residencies in numerous creative arts. Look for the annual Cabin Fever Reliever, which brings artists from all over the country to teach workshops in many different media.
  • The Mountain Metalsmiths School of Jewelry and Lapidary
    Just 3 miles from the Ashville Airport, The Mountain Metalsmiths School of Jewelry and Lapidary teaches courses in metal work, jewelry fabrication, rock cutting and polishing, and much more.
  • Craft Enrichment Program, Appalachian State University
    A program that provides opportunities for hands-on experience with creative expression through learning various forms of craft.

back to top Museums and Arts Centers

  • North Carolina Museum of Art
    The North Carolina Museum of Art's permanent collection spans more than 5,000 years, from ancient Egypt to the present, making the institution one of the premier art museums in the Southeast. The 164-acre Museum Park showcases the connection between art and nature through monumental works of environmental art.
  • Mint Museum of Art, Craft and DesignMint Museum Uptown
    The Mint Museum holds a large collection of various forms of art and photography as well as decorative arts and handicrafts.
  • Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA)
    SECCA presents and interprets contemporary art of the United States with programs encompassing the issues engaging artists today.
  • North Carolina Art Museums & Art Galleries
    This site links to art museums and art galleries across North Carolina. This is not an exhaustive list, but it does list many of North Carolina's arts institutions.

back to topFolk Art

  • Southern Folklife Collection (SFC)
    This collection ranks as one of the nation's foremost archival resources for the study of American folk music and popular culture. SFC holdings extensively document all forms of southern musical and oral traditions across the entire spectrum of individual and community expressive arts, as well as mainstream media production.
  • The Quilt Index
    Materials included in the Quilt Index project emphasize Western Carolina University's Mountain Heritage Center's textile collection. They are representative of the types of quilts produced by families who lived and worked in western North Carolina from the 1830s to 1975.
  • Government & Heritage Library Resources
    The Government & Heritage Library has a rich collection of works about folk art in North Carolina.
    In the catalog

back to topPottery

  • Seagrove Area Potters Association
    The Seagrove area is one of the largest communities of potters with the longest continual history of pottery making in the United States. Today visitors can explore the rural landscape by back roads and visit the potters in their workshops and studios, to witness the Seagrove potters continuing the tradition of making pots. The area is home to more than 100 potters who offer a full spectrum of pottery and ceramic art.
  • Catawba Valley Pottery of North Carolina (CVPNC)
    CVPNC is committed to the preservation of the tradition of Catawba Valley pottery. These potters are dedicated to traditional 19th century methods almost lost in the first half of the 20th century. Burlon Craig of Vale, NC continued the 19th century methods of pottery making for many years as the last "old-time" potter and by doing so, kept the Catawba Valley tradition alive. This site highlights the work of some of the current potters carrying on the tradition.
  • Craft in America - Jugtown PotteryVernon Ownens throwing a candlestick
    Jugtown Pottery began in 1917 after the chance discovery of an orange pie dish by Jacques and Juliana Busbee, artists from Raleigh, NC. They soon traced it to Moore County and found, along with orangeware, earthenware, and salt glazed wares being made by the local potters. The simple, utilitarian Jugtown style still continues to be produced today.
  • Seagle "School" of potters (Catawba Valley)
    Daniel Seagle was the first master potter of the Catawba Valley. His work began a 70-year tradition of pottery making following his perfectionist standards.
  • North Carolina Pottery Center (NCPC)
    Opened in 1998 in Seagrove, the NCPC promotes public awareness of North Carolina's remarkable pottery heritage. The Center welcomes and informs visitors to the Seagrove area, enriching their experience through exhibitions and educational programs, and promoting potters working today across the state. The Center has permanent as well as changing exhibitions of contemporary and historical NC and regional pottery.
  • Government & Heritage Library Resources
    The Government & Heritage Library has a robust collection of works about pottery in North Carolina.
    In the catalog

    "New Life" is a documentary film about the Cole family potters of Sanford, NC. Click here to see if it is available at a library near you.

back to topWoodworking

  • Thomas Day Furnishings
    This LEARN NC resource includes a history of Thomas Day, the nineteenth-century African American cabinetmaker. Several museums and buildings across North Carolina contain pieces crafted by Thomas Day, including the North Carolina Museum of history which has, among other pieces, a sofa used by Governor David S. Reid.

    Thomas Day and his furniture was featured in a segment of the 2009 Raleigh Antiques Roadshow. Click here and jump to 21:49 to hear the Thomas Day segment.

  • Oral History on Furniture Making in North Carolina
    In this oral history Stanley Briggs describes his experience in the furniture-making business. He discusses different types of lumber and their availability and how the price of lumber has changed over the years as a result of deforestation and policies of the US Forest Service. He discusses the EPA and the effect of its regulations on the furniture industry.
  • Workboats of Core Sound
    Workboats of Core Sound was an exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of History that celebrated the native artistry of Down East boatbuilders, and especially the traditions of the community of Atlantic and its most famous boatbuilder, Ambrose Fulcher. At this site you can listen to a podcast discussing the exhibit.
  • Decoy Carving
    Decoy carving was once part of the fabric of life along the sounds of North Carolina. The Core Sound Waterfowl Museum & Heritage Center provides some insight into the tradition of decoy carving.

back to top ArchitectureThe Strickland-Ferris Residence in Raleigh, designed by Frank Harmon

  • North Carolina Architects and Builders
    This biographical dictionary highlights architects and builders who have produced North Carolina's architecture for more than 300 years. A brief biography plus a building list traces each person's work in the state.
  • State Historic Preservation Office (HPO)
    The HPO gathers statewide survey information on historic buildings, districts, and landscapes. The HPO is the repository of field notes, photographs, research reports, National Register nominations, and other materials related to the statewide survey. Published information on historic places in North Carolina may be found in scores of state and local architectural survey publications.
  • The Built Heritage of North Carolina
    "The Built Heritage of North Carolina" is the result of a collaboration between North Carolina State University and Preservation North Carolina. This project enables online access to documentation on hundreds of buildings and structures in North Carolina dating from the 1700s to the early 1900s. Buildings represented in this project include well-known examples of historic architecture, such as Baldhead Lighthouse, the Bellamy Mansion in Wilmington, and Blandwood in Greensboro. Also covered are such lesser known but historically significant structures as the Jordan House in Bertie County (one of the earliest brick buildings in the state) and the Allison-Deaver House in Transylvania County (one of the oldest frame dwellings west of the Blue Ridge).

    North Carolina State University has completed a project titled Beaux Arts to Modernism: Early Twentieth Century Architecture in North Carolina. This project digitized select architectural drawings and photographs from the Charles Parker Papers, Eric G. Flannagan Papers, and Northup & O'Brien Architectural Records, among other architects and architectural firms who designed important and representative buildings of the early twentieth century. View the digitized materials here.

back to topPerforming Arts

  • Performing Arts in North Carolina
    Explore theater, music, dance and more from across North Carolina. Information is also included about some of North Carolina's historic theaters.
  • North Carolina Theatres
    Home to 10 historical summer plays, North Carolina is considered the birthplace of outdoor drama. This page from the North Carolina Arts Council provides information and links to professional theater companies across North Carolina.
  • American Dance Festival (ADF)
    Located at Duke Univeristy in Durham, North Carolina and heralded as "One of the nation's most important institutions," the ADF's sustained record of creative achievement is indivisible from the history of modern dance. The ADF is committed to serving the needs of dance, dancers, choreographers, and professionals in dance-related fields.
  • Film and Video Festival and Screening Opportunities
    This North Carolina Arts Council site provides a listing of film and video festivals in North Carolina.
  • North Carolina Dance Festival (NCDF)
    The Festival is an annual showcase of North Carolina dance artists that travels to five communities. Unique in the country and now a North Carolina institution, the event began in 1991 as a weekend of concerts in the UNC/Greensboro Dance Theater showcasing dance artists from across the state.
  • Mountain Dance and Folk Festival
    Since 1928, Asheville's Mountain Dance and Folk Festival has showcased the region's traditional music and dance, handed down through generations. Performances may include mountain fiddlers, banjo pickers, dulcimer sweepers, cloggers, and balladeers.

back to topMusic

  • Blue Ridge Music
    Blue Ridge Music includes the pop, classical, jazz, blues, rock, country and gospel. Learn about its history, significance, and places to hear it today.
  • North Carolina Symphony
    Founded in 1932, the North Carolina Symphony is a vital and honored component of North Carolina's cultural life. This site offers access to North Carolina Symphony performance schedules, tickets, the North Carolina Symphony blog, podcasts, photographs and historical information about the symphony.
  • A Singing Stream: A Black Family Chronicle
    With interviews and stories, and scenes from daily life, reunions, gospel concerts, and church services, this film traces the history of the gifted African-American Landis family of Granville County, North Carolina, over the lifetime of its oldest surviving member, 86-year-old Mrs. Bertha M. Landis. Features performances by her sons' gospel quartet The Golden Echoes.,2
  • Indie Music
    Thanks to no shortage of musical talent and loyal fans, the independent music scene has flourished in the Triangle.

    This documentary about The Branchettes, a traditional gospel group from Johnston County, NC, was produced during the 2009 Community Folklife Documentation Institute, sponsored by the N.C. Arts Council, the Center for Documentary Studies and the N.C. Folklife Institute.

    Or click here to go directly to YouTube to view the video.
  • Old-Time Music
    North Carolina is known particularly for its tradition of old-time music, and many recordings were made in the early 20th century by folk song collector Bascom Lamar Lunsford. Appalachian old-time was a major influence on other musical styles like country and bluegrass. Appalachian State University will be home to the Appalachian State Old-Time Fiddlers Convention in February 2013. Read more about this event at

back to topLiterary Arts

  • North Carolina Poet Laureate
    Home page for the North Carolina Poet Laureate, North Carolina's 'ambassador of literature.'
  • A Literary Map of North Carolina
    UNC-Greensboro has created a collection that facilitates research related to authors who have lived in or written about North Carolina searchable by author, geographic region, or genre.
  • North Carolina Literary Trails
    Numerous tours around the state take you to the communities where some of the state's most notable writers have lived and worked.
  • Paul Green
    Author Paul Green was one of the South's most revered writers, and one of America's most distinguished. The first playwright from the South to gain national and international recognition, he was part of that remarkable generation of writers who first brought southern writing to the attention of the world.
  • Thomas Wolfe
    Thomas Wolfe was a major American novelist of the early 20th century. Wolfe wrote four lengthy novels, plus many short stories, dramatic works and novel fragments. He is considered to be North Carolina's most famous writer.

back to topSelect NC Artists

  • The Angel That Stands by Me: Minnie Evans' Paintings
    African American painter Minnie Evans of Wilmington, NC. "has created a world of mythical animals, religious symbols and natural beauty." She tells about her mystical visions and traces her slave ancestry to her great grandmother's grandmother brought from Trinidad and sold as a slave in North Carolina.,71
  • Marjorie Dula Roberts, Quilter
    "Marjorie Dula Roberts links several generations of quilters from Wilkes County. Marjorie's mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother were all quilters, and she has taught her daughter and granddaughter to quilt."
  • Polly RattlerPolly Rattler, Cherokee doll maker, beadworker, basketmaker
    "Polly Rattler learned her crafts from watching her family and other elders. She remembers her Grandmother Bertha Rattler trading baskets for shoes and other needs, and giving Polly the extra splints to learn with."
  • The Craven Family of North Carolina Potters
    The Cravens have been making pottery in Randolph and Moore Counties, North Carolina, for more than 200 years. An online exhibition of some of the Bridges Gallery collection pieces represents four generations of work by the Cravens from 1850 to 1990. Craven Family of North Carolina Potters
  • Find an Artist
    This interactive resource allows searching by location and art form from the following: Artist Fellowship Recipients, NC Heritage Award Recipients, Cherokee Artist Directory, Touring Artist Directory.

    HandMade in America's Craft Across the Curriculum program offers hands-on workshops which bring teachers together with local artists in western North Carolina. The goal of the program is to utilize craft and the region's craft heritage as a means of teaching math, language arts, science and social sciences and to give local artists another vehicle for sharing their craft knowledge and art form. Click here to check out their site.

NOTE: The links highlighted on this page were selected by staff at the State Library in an effort to provide broad exposure to arts and crafts across North Carolina. To learn more about the arts in North Carolina please visit the North Carolina Arts Council.

back to topImage Credits

Header: Conductor From: Image Gallery - A Day with Yo-Yo Ma - September 2008. Courtesy of the North Carolina Symphony.

General Resources: From: Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual, Inc.. Image courtesy of Qualla Arts and Crafts Mtutal, Inc.

Craft Schools and Arts Education Centers: From: Penland School Pictures from Penland Classes. Image courtesy of Penland School.

Museums Art Centers: From: Mint Museum Uptown. Image courtesy of Mint Museum Uptown.

Pottery: From: Craft in America: a journey to the artists, origins and techniques of American craft. Image courtesy of Public Broadcasting Service.

Architecture: From: Frank Harmon Architect PA. Image courtesy of Frank Harmon.

Music: From: 2009 Community Folklife Documentation Institute. Image courtesy of Community Folklife Documentation Institute.

Select NC Artists: From: Polly Rattler - Cherokee doll maker, beadworker, basketmaker. Image courtesy of Blue Ridge National Heritage Area.

Listen to this! From: Smithsonian Folkways. Image courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways.

Watch this! John Payne - From: Giant Steel Dinosaurs- Work of Kinetic Sculptor John Payne on YouTube. Image courtesy of streamlineantiquated, uploaded March 9, 2010.

United Arts Council - From: North Carolina Leaders on Arts Education. Image courtesy of United Arts Council of Raleigh & Wake County, Inc. and ARTS North Carolina, Inc.

Read this! North Carolina Architecture - From: The University of North Carolina Press. Image courtesy of UNC Press.

Evolution - From: The University of North Carolina Press. Image courtesy of UNC Press.