About Norfolk Commission on the Arts and Humanities
As part of Norfolk Arts the Norfolk Commission on the Arts and Humanities serves as an effective resource to arts and humanities organizations for the City of Norfolk, helping provide extraordinary moments by extraordinary people.
- Established 1978
- 15 members appointed by City Council
- 3 year, renewable terms with a 12-year term limit
- Member designated “at large” or aligned with a particular arts discipline
- Promote the success, enhance the quality, provide support and increase the availability and awareness of artistic and cultural experiences for the benefit of the citizens of Norfolk.
- Advocate for non-profit arts and humanities organizations and their funding needs.
- Provide support to grantees as requested and available.
- Facilitate and improve communication, collaboration and efficiencies among grantees, other arts organizations and city departments.
- Promote the arts and humanities in the City
- Ensure that every region of the city has access to the arts
Norfolk is the cultural capital of Virginia and offers the highest quality and the widest array of artistic experiences.
No other city in Virginia, and few of any cities its size, offer the breadth and level of arts programming that Norfolk enjoys. The City has garnered both national and international accolades for its support of the arts. It has earned a stellar reputation that attracts tourists worldwide, dramatically contributing to the local economy and enhancing the educational experience of both novice and seasoned artists. The city’s support of the arts and its myriad forms (e.g., public art, theatre, opera, music, visual arts, dance, etc.) is unrivaled in the region.
The Norfolk Commission on the Arts and Humanities is proud to help support the organizations that make the arts and culture come alive. Grant supported programs reach into every neighborhood and give all citizens the opportunity to enjoy the finest arts Norfolk has to offer.
Non-profit organizations support art and culture in every Norfolk neighborhood. From youth orchestras, art classes to dance and choirs, the Norfolk Commission on the Arts and Humanities awarded grant funding to 27 non-profit organizations for fiscal year 2022. These organizations bring the arts and culture to citizens of all ages and to every corner of the city.
In FY 20, arts and humanities nonprofit organizations showed their creative resiliency. Even in a difficult year, they pumped almost $6million into the economy. There were 4,326 in-person and online events, reaching more than 205,000 people all over the world.
2022 Grant Recipients
Academy of Music offers group and private lessons to children and adults, taught by some of the finest musicians in Hampton Roads. Programs include “Harps on Fire” at Blair Middle School and a violin program at Park Place School. They offer scholarships based on financial need.
Access Virginia provides open captioning and audio description at live theatrical performances so that Deaf/Hard of Hearing and Blind/Visually Impaired persons can attend performances and experience the wonder of live entertainment at public facilities.
Arts for Learning, the Virginia Affiliate of Young Audiences provides quality arts-in-education programming throughout Virginia. Children need arts for learning. It sparks their imaginations and feeds their minds. It improves their academic performance and encourages them to stay in school. It connects them to their families, their cultures, and their communities.
Bay Youth Orchestras is one of the largest youth orchestra programs in the country. Over 300 student musicians in grades 3 – 12 study and perform in 6 ensembles. The Bay Youth Symphony Orchestra musicians play a Side-by-Side program with members of the Virginia Symphony.
Boys Choir of Hampton Roads just celebrated their 21st year. Young men ages 7 through high school graduation wow the audience with their performances of classical and contemporary music from “Make Them Hear You” from “Ragtime” to the music of Mozart.
d’ART Center is located in the NEON arts district. It supports outreach to schools, communities, provide juried exhibitions, and host 26 resident and associate artists.
Generic Theater downunder is literally down under Chrysler Hall. Those who venture down to the bottom level of the Scope garage can find this little theater tucked into the back of the lot, and once inside will be treated to some of the most innovative and daring live theater in the area.
Hermitage Museum & Gardens consists of an early 20th century historic house museum with a world-wide art collection of over 5,000 objects, contemporary exhibition galleries, and a Visual Arts School, surrounded by 12 acres of gardens and wetlands.
The Hurrah Players is presenting its 36th season of high quality, family friendly entertainment. Known for their exuberant musicals and plays, Hurrah Players also offers classes for children (ages 5 and up) and adults. Financial assistance is available, too.
I. Sherman Greene Chorale is in its 49th season. It started with alumni of Booker T. Washington High School alumni, but has now expanded to include community singers as well as college students. Their stirring concerts of classical music, traditional spirituals, and new music by contemporary composers enlighten, energize, and inspire audiences in Norfolk and Virginia Beach.
Little Theatre of Norfolk is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, continuously operating little theatres in the country. Each season, they present four plays and a musical, all wonderfully produced, and all done by volunteers. Those in the know get tickets early – they often sell out.
Norfolk Chamber Consort presents the public performance of chamber music from the 17th to 21st centuries. Their concerts feature lesser known works and neglected masterpieces, as well as performers who work with unique instruments.
Norfolk Senior Center/Primeplus offers art and music classes, dance lessons, as well as physical activities for members 5 days a week. A professional musician comes in and leads the seniors (50 and up) in song, improving memory and lifting spirits.
Rumi Friendship Association The Rumi FA is a registered nonprofit, established in 2017, with the aim of advancing social cohesion by connecting communities, empowering people to engage and contributing to the development of ideas on dialogue and community building
Salvation Army Hampton Roads Area Command presents the “HeartStrings and Valves” program at the Kroc Center. This partnership with the Virginia Symphony helps children in Title 1 schools in Norfolk in grades 1-5 learn an instrument, starting in 1st grade, where they build their own papier-mâché violins. In second grade they receive a donated violin to practice with at home. They have performed at Chrysler Hall in the dress circle lobby before a Symphony concert.
Shark City Drum and Dance Corps. Our mission is to provide students an opportunity to flourish as artist and create meaningful connections with our community.
Spotlight Hampton Roads The mission of Spotlight News is to create, enhance, and support local independent media through arts- and community-focused journalism in the Hampton Roads area.
The Muse Writers Center is one of the top ten writer centers in the United States. They have classes in poetry, fiction, memoir, and more. You can learn how to write songs, how to craft a realistic courtroom scene, hone your craft in graphic novels. No one is turned away for financial reasons, there is help available.
Tidewater Arts Outreach carries the joys of music and visual arts to the elderly and their caregivers, homeless children and adults, veterans, and other people with special needs. Singing, dancing/movement, visual arts, drama, poetry, and music all have recognized health benefits, and Tidewater Arts Outreach advocates for the arts to foster a healthy climate for arts and healing.
Tidewater Classical Guitar Society brings world-renowned classical guitarists to Hampton Roads, including the Guitar Federation of America Winner. Their own Tidewater Guitar Orchestra tour around the state as part of the Virginia Commission for the Arts Performing Arts Tour Directory and has performed in Costa Rica twice.
Tidewater Youth Services Foundation The TYS Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that was established in 1991 to support the Tidewater Youth Services Commission in its efforts to help at-risk and court involved youth become contributing and productive members of the community.
Tidewater Winds is one of a few professional, non-profit concert bands performing repertoire ranging from Sousa Marches, to contemporary repertoire to Big Band programming. The professional musicians, staff, and volunteers ensure you are fully engaged and comfortable. They provide free concerts every summer.
Todd Rosenlieb Dance , the area’s only professional dance company, has adaptive dance programs for children with Down syndrome and Autism spectrum disorders. It also has classes for children and adults, and its own professional ensemble produces classical and original modern choreography.
Virginia Children’s Chorus has been teaching children to sing with joy since 1992. Singers are 6-18 years old. They take classes and perform in ensembles. They have sung with the Virginia Symphony, the I. Sherman Greene Chorale, and for the Virginia Arts Festival Tattoo.
Virginia Chorale is the premier professional vocal ensemble in Virginia. Not content to only perform classic works, they partnered with the Virginia Arts Festival to perform in the world premiere production of Kristin Kuster’s KEPT: a ghost story, and sponsored their own contest for women composers.
WHRO produces “Curate,” with original segments featuring local artists. These locally produced segments are combined with other PBS stations’ segments and are broadcast nationally. Each episode is arranged around a central theme and offers a compelling look at artists and their creations.
World Affairs Council of Greater Hampton Roads presents speakers and discussions in matters of international relations, foreign policy and diplomacy. In this uncertain world, their timely topics presented by speakers such as former Secretary of the Navy Dr. John F. Lehman, Ambassador Daniel Fried, and Dr. Trita Parsi, founder and current president of the National Iranian American Council, are more pertinent than ever.
Diana Blanchard Gross
Jennifer Blount Sanford
Bess P. Decker
Dr. Barbara B. Laws
An Arts & Culture calendar that at times includes events for current grant recipients can be found on the City of Norfolk’s website.
However, we encourage you to follow the links and connect with organizations on their direct page at the links above.
Norfolk Arts seeks to create a rich, diverse, environment that reflects, celebrates and invites all to experience the arts. We seek to give voice to our community and strive to unite, energize, prompt dialogue, and inspire the unique character of Norfolk.