The Cleveland County Arts Council had its beginnings in 1985 when a group of more than thirty interested citizens began meeting and discussing the need for an umbrella agency to coordinate the efforts of the county's very strong, individual arts groups and to eventually become the local distributing agency for Grassroots funds allocated to Cleveland County by the NC Legislature. With assistance from the NC Arts Council, the Cleveland County Arts Council was formed and incorporated in the spring of 1986, with a six-member steering committee serving as the initial board of directors. Chairman of that steering committee was local attorney-at-law, J.A. West, who was instrumental in the organization's formation and incorporation.

On August 12, 1986 , the first meeting of the newly organized council of arts affiliates and associates was held at Cleveland Community College. Four officers and a fifteen-member board of directors (delegates representing fifteen arts affiliates) were elected. The by-laws of the Council were later amended so that the council now has five officers.

In the spring of 1987, the organization became tax exempt. Operating with a budget of only $140, the Council set goals and objectives, planned strategies, and published a calendar of events that first year. Later, applying for, and receiving, grant money and local discretionary funds, the Council was able to hire a part-time coordinator. In January 1988, Barbara Brock was hired as the Council's Coordinator, and it was at this time, that the Council truly became operative. After receiving permission from the appropriate officials, Coordinator Brock, in March of 1988, moved into the Council's first office, the "Well House" on the grounds of the Cleveland County Historical Museum .

During the fall of 1991, the Royster family donated the Belk Building to the Arts Council. Later that year the old post office on the corner of Washington and Warren streets became vacant. A trade was negotiated with the city of Shelby with the city buying the post office property from Cleveland County and donated it to the Arts Council.

The Belk property was then given to the city. Included in the agreement was a $50,000 grant from the Cleveland County Board of Commissioners, which was used to repair and maintain the building.

The Arts Council now had a permanent home and great hope for the future of this beautiful historic building. With the added responsibility of facility management, an additional staff position was added and programs were expanded to include exhibits and art classes for children.

During the summer of 1994, founding Director Barbara Brock, decided that it was time to step aside to pursue other interests and devote more time directly to her art. Later that year, Joe Miller was hired as interim Executive Director. Shearra Miller, current President and Chief Professional Officer came on board in early 1996.

Thanks to the efforts of diligent board members and generous supporters in the community, the funds were secured to put a new roof on the building during the summer of 1996. With this task behind us we were able to finally use the funds given to us by Dick and Adelaide Craver and the First National Bank to complete the renovations to the boardroom, kitchen and restroom during the spring of 1997.

The new millennium brought about the long awaited renovations to the basement thanks to a generous start-up donation by Will and Tina Rucker. Additional donations by the Dover Foundation, First National Bank, BB&T and others allowed us to complete our new art education facility. Gifts made in memory of Board Member Marilyn Maxeiner allowed us to purchase equipment for the clay studio. Summer Art Camp began in June of 2000 with 17 different classes for kindergarten students through 12th grade. Additional classes, exhibits and meetings are possible in this wonderful, bright classroom area.

Through the years, the Cleveland County Arts Council, now representing 13 arts affiliates and 10 associate groups, has served as a clearing house for information on local arts events, given support and guidance to member organizations, served as a community arts advocate for business and private organization, and coordinated, sponsored, and co-sponsored numerous arts projects.

At present we continue to sponsor and encourage cultural and educational activities in our county. Our commitment to the community, to the residents of our county, to cultural organizations, and to artists grows stronger every day.

We salute and thank all of the people who have helped to make the Arts Council what it is today and what it can become in the future.

111 S. Washington St., Shelby, NC 28150   -   Phone: 704-484-2787   -   Email: info@ccartscouncil.org