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thank you for celebrating50 years with us

50 years ago, Davira Taragin, Carolyn Carlson, Marvin Weaver, and Teresa Wyler (pictured above) became the first Arts Council staff members with only $3,592.47 in proceeds from the first Sunday at the Square event in 1974. Now the Arts Council boasts over 30 board and staff members and gives away over 1.25 million dollars in grants to artists, nonprofits, and municipalities. 

Take a look back with us over 50 years of art, culture, and history, and how the Arts Council has helped support and create many of the arts programs we know and love today. 


From the Summer 1975 edition of Spectra Cover: Harlan Duenow, (then conductor of the Fayetteville Symphoony Orchestra & Cumberland Chorale, ), Leonard McLeod (then actor and director at Fayetteville LIttle Theatre) Linda Kinlaw and Jimmy Chavis (both then Fayetteville Dance Theatre)

50 years of art, culture, and history

As we enjoyed a night of performances and speeches from our local leaders and arts advocates we must take a pause to recognize how far we have come. From the Arsenal House to the Arts Center, the Arts Council has grown into a thriving and supportive presence in North Carolina recognized for its impact. 

The Arts Council started with Sunday on the Square the first official Bicentenial Festival in Cumberland County...

"It began in brilliant sunshine, with the temperature near 90. It ended underneath the canopy of the Capitol's Hay Street entrance where the Pope Pipers entertained the last few dripping music fans. In between, the rains came. The sky exploded, and it rained backwards, it rained upside down. To be there that afternoon was to relive again the seventh chapter of Genesis. Folks, it was wet.


But the people came -- not two by two, but by the thousands -- and over three thousand dollars were raised to help make the Arts Council of Fayetteville a reality. Chairperson Mildred Evans was there to the end, as were her assistants Bo Thorp and Rollin Shaw. Harry Brickhouse didn't finish cleaning up until Tuesday, and a few chicken bones may still be seen bleaching in boxwoods around the Market House. It was the original Sunday-on-the-Square, in May 1974..."


Sunday on the Square photographed by Steve Aldridge 1975

Sunday on the square

"...Downtown Fayetteville closed to traffic the first block of Hay, Person, Gillespie and Green Streets, dressed up for company and threw a party for homefolks and visitors. Various entertainment went on all the time on all four streets, with 38 different groups participating: children's and adult drama groups, ballet and Scottish dancers, instrumental groups of all kinds and singing groups ranging from folk guitar and rock to country and barbershop harmony.


The focus of the day, however was on the artists and craftsmen who had works on display and sale. Many of the crafts were demonstrated to those who were interested. One of the best publicized and most enthusiastically received projects was the artist who did on-the-spot sketches of Sunday-on-the-Square-goers. As a special attraction, there was a drawing for a Claude Howell watercolor at the end of the day, which was won by Marie Murphy of Stedman.


Many local organizations were involved in non-entertainment projects. The Fayetteville Cumberland County Youth Council, dressed as clowns, had a sidewalk-chalk-drawing booth, but they also sold popcorn and balloons and kept the area clean. There were booths selling drinks, hot dogs and snacks, and the Junior Service League sold full chicken dinners.


Sunday-on-the-Square was the result of hundreds of people donating time and talents, not only to support the arts, but also to enjoy them, as they should be enjoyed -- in public, with a spirit of festivity." - Spectra Summer '75

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Curated for You

a look into our past


Bob Pinson President & CEO of the Arts Council  - photography by Tim Ellis

2024 and beyond

One can stand to wonder if that first staff of four employees could have fathomed where the Arts Council would be in 50 years. On June 6th, 2024 it was another 90-degree day as artists, art advocates, supporters, leaders, and more donned their most colorful cocktail attire to celebrate 50 years of color together. The air was thick with anticipation and laughter as we all partook in the night's festivities. 

Bob Pinson took the stage and made an announcement that truly illustrated the growth and expansion of the Arts Council. The founding of Arts XL, the Arts Council's first Art accelerator, and the addition of a secondary building boasting office and performance spaces for local arts organizations. Organizations like Sweet Tea Shakespeare, and Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra will now have an affordable space to work, practice, and perform downtown in the heart of our community. 

Arts XL - mockup by 219 Group

50 years of color

Bob Pinson President and CEO was accompanied by Luis Collazo board member and chair of the Arts Council of Fayetteville, Deborah Mintz former President and CEO of the Arts Council of Fayetteville, Glenn Adams Cumberland County Commissioner and Chairman,  as well as LeJuane Bowens award-winning author and poet on the stage. 

There was a resounding call for the continued support of the arts in our community as each told stories of the change the arts have created. Through your support, whether monetary or volunteering the Arts Council can change the lives of artists all over Cumberland County and beyond. Over the past year, the Arts Council has paid 488 artists to teach in Cumberland County Schools directly through our Artists in Schools program reaching over 17,000 students. That is only the tip of the iceberg of 50 years of granting, community building, festivals, and arts education. 

From four to many, the Arts Council of Fayetteville and Cumberland County is proud to serve our local community with resources for artists, nonprofits, and municipalities to continue to further the arts. 

Curated for You

a look at our celebration

Photography by TIm Ellis Photography and Tricia Michael Photography


50th Anniversary Celebration - Photography by TIm Ellis

tell your story

There are multitudes of stories about the arts in Cumberland County that have been created over these past 50 years. We want to hear the art stories you have. So send them to us!

Share your Story

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50th Anniversary Celebration - Photography by TIm Ellis

red carpet recap

The 50th Anniversary Celebration was attended by over 200 guests all dressed to the nines. Take a look at our red-carpet collection of downloadable and shareable photos from the event. If you're interested in high-quality prints from the photographer visit

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