ZSR Announces $2 Million Partnership with The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation To support second cohort of Inclusive Public Art projects across NC


The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation (ZSR) is pleased to announce a $2 million partnership with The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (Mellon Foundation) to expand and continue its Inclusive Public Art initiative across North Carolina.

The partnership – which includes $1 million from both ZSR and the Mellon Foundation – aims to support commemorative and artist commissions – specifically focused on underrepresented narratives and communities.

ZSR pioneered its Inclusive Public Art initiative in 2018 to address controversies regarding monuments and race and to explore how art could serve as a starting place for people to engage in important — even difficult and courageous — conversations about their community’s past, present and future.

ZSR’s first cohort of Inclusive Public Art projects, comprised of 10 organizations across North Carolina, diversified the voices in the decision-making processes about art in public places and centered community engagement. Mellon Foundation funding will support a second cohort of ZSR’s Inclusive Public Art projects across the state.

“In keeping with the Foundation’s core values, this initiative uses art to share and celebrate the contributions and achievements of individuals and groups in North Carolina whose history and stories have not been told or widely shared,” said ZSR President Noah Reynolds. “When we embrace the multitude of people and perspectives that have shaped our state, everyone benefits.”

Though ZSR selected 10 grantees for its first cohort, it received more than 80 letters of intent indicating the numerous untold or under told stories that could be depicted through art. Funding from the Mellon Foundation, the largest supporter of arts and humanities in the U.S., will increase the range and type of public art projects North Carolina communities can undertake, from grassroots visual storytelling to large-scale iconic public artworks.

“Hearing new voices and seeing new stories, as told through transformative new art in our public spaces, begin to change our understanding of our country’s complex history,” said Elizabeth Alexander, president of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. “The Inclusive Public Art projects are vital to expanding both that multivocality and those more manifold insights into who we are.”

ZSR expects to launch a Letter of Intent process for its second cohort of Inclusive Public Art projects in February 2022. Details will be posted on ZSR’s website.