Arts and Culture Awards

Participants march in the Hillsborough Handmade Parade in Orange County, N.C. Credit: Donn Young for Orange County, N.C.


The NACo Arts and Culture Award is designed to recognize county governments for their efforts to enrich American cultural and intellectual life, promote lifelong learning and protect our national heritage. These efforts include activities from arts education to historic preservation to the support of local museums, cultural institutions and nonprofit arts organizations.


Both ongoing programs and onetime projects are eligible for the award but must meet the following requirements:

  • The program/project must have become operational after January 1, 2012 and have measurable results.
  • County officials and/or staff, as part of their official duties, must have played a significant role in developing and implementing the program or project.

Eligible programs or projects could include a public-private partnership created to fund arts activity; an innovative approach to solving an existing problem with arts as part of the solution; the development of a community-based arts program for at-risk youth or low-income public housing residents; an arts program that has supported economic development; or a unique idea for saving a historical building or statue.


Visit to fill out the online award form and upload your application. Each application should be submitted as a PDF and must not be more than three typed pages. Applications must contain the following information, with corresponding section headers:

  • Program abstract. Provide a three sentence summary of the program.
  • Motivation. Explain the circumstances that motivated the county to undertake the program or project.
  • Summary. Describe the program or project, making sure to include information on: its objectives; the costs (including staff time) of planning and implementation; the methods of obtaining funding; and the role of county staff in its development and implementation..
  • Relevance to Criteria. An explanation of how the program or project addresses each of the five criteria for selection that are outlined in this brochure.
  • Contact Information. Include the name, title, county, address, telephone number, fax number and email address of a contact person who is familiar with the program or project.

Applications may be submitted by any county official or staff member. A county may submit as many applications for separate projects and programs as they choose, so long as each submission meets the guidelines. If the application is for a project sponsored by more than one county, it may be submitted by anyone of the participating counties but will only be awarded once.


Applications must be submitted by APRIL 17, 2017.


A select panel of judges, drawn from the NACo Arts and Culture Commission, who represent arts programs and arts organizations across the nation, will review all applications. Applications will be evaluated and rated according to the following criteria:

  • Innovation. The program or project should be innovative and creative in its approach to integrating the arts with county strategies.
  • Transferability. The program or project should have qualities that enable it to be replicated by other counties.
  • Community engagement. The program or project should involve citizens and local businesses in the community as partners in the development and implementation.
  • Leadership. The program should demonstrate leadership through visible support and commitment of human financial and/or in kind resources.
  • Demonstrated impact. The program should have proven measurable, tangible results that demonstrate enhanced awareness and an integration of the arts into county activities and solutions.


The chief elected official of the winning county, as well as the applicant who submits the award, will be notified of the selection. Presentation of the award will be made at the Arts and Culture Commission Awards Dinner at the NACo Annual Conference in July. The awards program is sponsored in partnership with NACo’s Arts and Culture Commission and Americans for the Arts.


For more information and to direct questions regarding the Arts and Culture Awards Program, please contact Jenna Moran at or 202.942.4224.



Commission Chair

Kay Cashion
Guilford County, N.C.  

Commission Members