About the Burke Arts Council

The Burke Arts Council was founded in 1977.

The mission of the Burke Arts Council is to enrich the quality of life in Burke County through  cultural and artistic activities.  We seek to coordinate arts activities in the community, serve as an informational and resource center for the arts and to promote local artists and arts organizations.

In North Carolina, arts and culture events generate more than $2.12 Billion annually, supporting 72,000 jobs and producing $202 million in tax revenue.  This is a sample of how we here in Burke County support our community through the arts:



  • cART - wheels Grant:   This program and grant, through the North Carolina Arts Council, provides students with arts learning experiences that spark creativity, imagination, and innovation.  Grants range from $5,000 - $15,000.
  • Art Classes and workshops:  For children and adults; a wide array of art forms.  Topics also include artist-specific classes tailored to meet the unique needs of our craft artists in today’s economy.
  • Summer Art Camp:  Eight weeks featuring incredible artists and art teachers from across western North Carolina for a fabulous summer art camp experience!  Each week features a different theme; each day a different art form.


  • Regional Artist Project Grant (RAP-G):  In collaboration with neighboring arts councils and the NC Arts Council, provides funding to a regional consortium of artists.
  • Exhibition Gallery:  Presenting eight quality rotating exhibitions, gallery talks, and artist receptions, representing dozens of regional and national artists annually.
  • Artist Sales Gallery and the BAC website artist directory:  Showcasing and selling the artwork of our artist members.   


  • The Original Western North Carolina October Oyster & Shrimp Festival:  Our main fundraising event; a local favorite on the Square in Downtown Morganton!
  • Third Thursday Art Events including Art Crawls, Studio Tours, and Film Series:  Celebrating the creative energy of our local artists, arts organizations, & downtown entrepreneurs.  The films provide a lively evening with “art themed film” and menu.


  • Grassroots Arts Program:  Burke Arts Council has been approved by the N.C. Arts Council as a Designated County Partner to manage Grassroots Funds.  Over $29,000 will be distributed in 2018-19 to local organizations for arts programming.
  • JAM Program  (Junior Appalachian Musicians):  Partnership with the Morganton Parks & Recreation providing over $15,000 in grant funds through the NC Arts Council for after-school programs that unite North Carolina elementary and middle school students with local traditional artists. Taught by experts utilizing traditional instructional techniques, students receive training in strong local, vernacular artistic traditions that have deep cultural roots in their community.
  • SmART Initiative:  The North Carolina Arts Council’s SmART initiative is an arts-driven economic development program that showcases the central role the arts play in downtown revitalization. Currently, eight cities and towns across NC are in various stages of working with locally, regionally and nationally recognized artists on large scale transformative projects including parks, gateways and streetscapes generating private investment and increased business and visitor revenue for their downtowns
  • Frequent Collaborations with local nonprofits, local schools, retail establishments, and community service organizations including:
    • “Arts in Medicine” Program at Carolina Health Care System;  Options and the Art of Chocolate;  Burke Recovery;  Morganton Rotary;  Grace Ridge Creative Age Senior Exhibit;  St. Charles International Parish Festival;  Historic Burke Foundation Art in the Gardens;  and actively involved with the Western Arts Agencies of North Carolina.


Funding for General Operating and Programming:  Sources of Support

The North Carolina Arts Council (through the Department of Cultural Resources) ~ Burke County General Fund ~ Fundraising Events    ~  Art Sales ~  Corporate Sponsorship  ~  Foundation Grants  ~  Countless Hours of Volunteer Assistance  ~  Private Gifts & Annual Membership Dues.

About Downtown Morganton:

Downtown Morganton is in the foothills of Western North Carolina with easy access from Charlotte, Greensboro or Asheville; located at Exit 105 on Interstate 40. US Highways 18 and 181, as well as US 64 and US 70 also intersect the city.  In a recent issue, Southern Living Magazine called Morganton a “small town we love”.  "This foothills Blue Ridge Community is quickly gaining a reputation as a vibrant hub for dining and the arts”.  www.downtownmorganton.com