2021-22 Artist Support Grant Awards Announced!

Three of the four Burke County artists who received Artist Support Grant Funding are pictured sitting in front of the new Burke Arts Council location

2021 – 22 Burke County Artist Support Grant Recipients. Pictured from Left to Right: Sterling Lieske, Todd Greene, Tonja Smith. Not Pictured: Taylor Sharp


The Burke Arts Council is excited to announce that four artists residing in Burke County will receive Artist Support Grant funding for 2021-22. These grants, developed by the North Carolina Arts Council and administered by the Burke Arts Council, Caldwell Arts Council, United Arts Council of Catawba County, Iredell Arts Council, McDowell Arts Council Association, Hiddenite Center, and Rock School Arts Foundation, provide funding to professional and artistic development for emerging or established artists to create work, improve business operations, or bring work to new audiences. The Burke County artists who received funding are:

Todd Greene of Morganton is a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist with a voice steeped in Rhythm & Blues. Of the grant, Todd said,  “I don’t know where I’d be without the support of a strong community that values the arts and its artists. This grant that has been awarded to me for creating new original music, will allow me to continue to grow as an artist and stay current in my musical journey. Deeply grateful!”

 Tonja Smith of Morganton is a first-time publisher and long-time painter. Collaborating with her daughter Emily to tell the story of Bailey, Bleecker & Banjo, drawing inspiration from family visits to lakes, parks, and trails in Burke County and the nearby mountains with their dogs.  “Thank you to the North Carolina Arts Council and Burke Arts Council for awarding me the 2021-2022 Artist Support Grant and their generous support and passion for supporting artists. With the funds, my daughter & co-author, Emily Smith, and I will be able to create and publish our second book in The Painted Series, The Adventures of Bailey, Bleecker, and Banjo.”

Sterling Lieske of Morganton, is an innovator who wows in both the digital art world and on canvas. “I am super excited to receive this grant to update the technological tools that I use in my creative process.”

 Taylor Sharp, a Morganton native, will be using this grant to advance his documentary film project titled Momma, a feature-length documentary that intimately displays a mother’s love during her dying days and her three grieving sons’ quest to honor her memory through comedy, music, and fly fishing.

This was a very competitive process with artists in all art forms from six counties applying for grants ranging from $500 – $3,000.  Applications were reviewed by a panel of arts professionals with experience in various disciplines and scored each application based on artistic merit (demonstrated talent in an art form and overall excellence of the artist’s work; clear commitment to a career as a practicing professional artist); project merit (benefit of the proposed project to the artist’s professional growth); and feasibility of the proposed project. This was a very competitive process with artists in all mediums from six counties applying. Congratulations to all of the grant recipients!