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 is just as important as the art installations themselves, and the Foundation has selected grantees 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 will 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.

Inclusive Public Art Advisory Council (PAAC)

ZSR appointed an Inclusive Public Art Advisory Council (PAAC) to assist ZSR in reviewing Letters of Intent and grant applications to recommend semi-finalists and finalists to ZSR’s Board of Trustees. ZSR's Board of Trustees made final decisions regarding grant awards and has invested in 10 projects.  Learn more about the PAAC.

In addition to the PAAC, ZSR has contracted with Durham-based muralist and public art consultant Brenda Miller Holmes, who is serving as program coordinator for the Inclusive Public Art initiative.

If you have any questions regarding ZSR’s Inclusive Public Art initiative, please email us at info@zsr.org.