Inclusive Public Art

The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation believes that art can open the door to conversation. Our 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 are often untold. We hope that this effort will catalyze community conversations that can result in a shared, and fuller, understanding of our common history — and common bonds — as North Carolinians.

During the Foundation’s recent, yearlong listening and learning tour, 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.

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.

Projects/installations should express/demonstrate/depict one or more of the following:

  • Contributions or achievements of a North Carolina person or group, especially women and people of color, whose story in a particular part of the state has not been or is not often told;
  • Ways in which the racial and ethnic diversity of our communities makes our communities better; and/or
  • Ways in which cultural differences strengthen our communities.

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. Grants will be made for visual art, not performance art.

Download a printable summary of ZSR's Inclusive Public Art initiative.

The Letter of Intent process is now closed. See a list of the twenty semi-finalists recommended to ZSR's Board of Trustees by the Inclusive Public Art Advisory Council. Finalists were selected in May 2019. 

ZSR has launched a microsite to share information about all ten Inclusive Public Art project sites, which were awarded in May 2019 and are located across the state. This microsite will grow over time and is intended to share the stories that will be depicted in the art, as well as to follow the progression of each community’s project and to reveal the final installations. This may include, for example, renderings, drawings, and photos from community meetings, as well as images of the final installations, be they murals, archways, or sculptures. The microsite also is intended to serve as an informal toolkit for other communities across the state that might be interested in engaging in similar community-led inclusive public art projects.
ZSR also is excited to announce its partnership with UNC-TV Public Media North Carolina, which will be working with the Foundation to capture and document the experiences and conversations of all ten grantee communities as they undergo the process of telling these important stories through public art.

If you have questions about ZSR’s Inclusive Public Art initiative, please contact Project Coordinator Brenda Miller Holmes at