ZSR Announces Launch of Inclusive Public Art Initiative An initiative of ZSR’s Exploratory, Visionary Ideas Strategy


The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation (ZSR) is excited to announce the launch of its Inclusive Public Art initiative. This Inclusive Public Art initiative is one of three initiatives that the Foundation is supporting under its Exploratory, Visionary Ideas Strategy as part of its All For NC: Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation’s Framework for Grantmaking and Learning.

During the Foundation’s statewide listening and learning tour, from 2016-2017, it was evident that legacies of racism and segregation were pervasive in many communities we visited, but are not discussed often in public unless there is a major issue involving race. Combined with the historic and recent controversies regarding public art, monuments and race, the Foundation wanted 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 investment in inclusive public art is intended to share stories of diversity, equality, inclusion and equity as they relate to the people and places of North Carolina, especially those whose stories have not been or are often untold.

This initiative aims to include historically marginalized people in the decision-making processes about art in public places and is intended to spark healthy dialogue. The community engagement aspect of these grants will be just as important as the art installations themselves, and the Foundation is looking for communities that will authentically engage a cross-section of their communities in telling, discussing and perhaps even producing the story(ies) depicted in the art.

“For many years, ZSR has supported efforts to promote diversity, inclusion and equity; however, this foray into using public art as a tool for community education and dialogue is a new approach for us,” said Joy Vermillion Heinsohn, assistant director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation and lead staff managing the initiative. “We are excited to see how communities will be creative with these projects, and to learn more about North Carolina’s communities and our shared history.”

ZSR will invest in up to 10 projects with awards of as much as $50,000 each. Additional resources will be available for community engagement activities surrounding each art project. Projects must be permanent, visual artwork, accessible to the public and not performance based. ZSR is encouraging communities to engage artists of color and women artists.

Letters of Intent for ZSR’s Inclusive Public Art initiative are due on October 8, 2018. In November 2018, semi-finalists will receive an invitation to apply with a deadline in the spring of 2019.

Questions about ZSR’s Inclusive Public Art initiative should be directed to Project Coordinator Brenda Miller Holmes at brenda@brendamillerholmes.com.