The Orange County Arts Commission serves as a clearinghouse for arts information, facilitator of arts programs and advisor to the Orange County Board of County Commissioners regarding the arts. We have been the Designated County Partner (DCP) of the North Carolina Arts Council in Orange County since 1985 and are responsible for sub-granting state and county funds to arts organizations, schools and artists throughout the county. Our mission is to promote and strengthen the artistic and cultural development of Orange County, North Carolina.

In order to submit an application or register, you need to first create a Submittable account.  If you need assistance, please contact Katie Murray at or 919-245-2335. 

The Orange County Community Remembrance Coalition, the Orange County Arts Commission, and 2023 Piedmont Laureate Dasan Ahanu present Letter From Poetry Slam, commemorating the 60th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Letter from a Birmingham Jail.

Wednesday, April 19
7-8:30pm, doors open at 6:30
Eno Arts Mill Gallery
437 Dimmocks Mill Rd, Suite 17
Hillsborough, NC 27278
Free admission | Cash bar

Entry Guidelines

The Letter From Poetry Slam is in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Letter from a Birmingham Jail written by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and considered to be the most important written document of the civil rights era.

All poems performed must be related to the letter in some way. A copy of the letter is available for each participant to read here.

A poetry slam is a competitive art event in which poets perform their poetry before a live audience and a panel of judges. It is a unique spoken word competition created in the '80s in Chicago as a way to to engage new audiences. Since then, poetry slams have been held across the world.

This competition will be judged by a panel that consists of 4 judges selected from the community and 1 from the audience.

Guidelines are as follows:

  • The slam is open to everyone 18 years or older.
  • Up to 10 poets will be invited to compete (see registration link below).
  • In poetry slam there is no music, there are no costumes or props and each poet will be performing original work.
  • The competition will be a 2-3 round slam with elimination each round. The final information on the number of rounds and the elimination will be provided to invited participants.
  • For this slam, poems may be up to 3 and a half minutes long, but after a 10 second grace period, the performer loses a point for going over time. The slam assistant will be keeping time. The time starts when the poets begins their poem.
  • The scoring is done Olympic style on a scale from 0 to 10 for each poem. 0 is the worst and 10 is the best. Poems will be considered for content, delivery, and their connection to MLK’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”
  • The highest score and lowest score are dropped, and the poets score for the round is determined by adding the three middle scores together. The highest score a poet can receive for their poem is a 30.
  • The poets will draw numbers to determine the order of the first round. In the 2nd and 3rd round, the poet with the highest score from the previous round will perform first and the round will end with the poet with the lowest score.
  • The scores are cumulative and the highest scoring poets will advance. The poet with the highest cumulative score wins.
  • Prize money will be awarded for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place in the slam: $250 for 1st place, $150 for 2nd place, and $100 for 3rd place.

Register for an opportunity to participate by 11:59pm on Wednesday, April 12th.  Selected poets will be notified by Saturday, April 15th. 

The Eno Arts Mill is located within the historic Eno Mill in the West Hillsborough neighborhood. The Orange County Arts Commission (OCAC) currently occupies two spaces with artist studios, located close to each other within the mill:

  • The Eno Mill Artist Studios are 11 studios within a 3,000 square-foot working space. Click here to view a map.  
  • Suite 17 includes the OCAC offices, a classroom, gallery/events space, and 5 offices/studios available to artists and/or cultural organizations.  Click here to view a map. 

All studios include 24/7 access (workspace only), wifi, utilities, opportunities to exhibit work, communal gathering and workspace, and access to a loading dock and restrooms. Both spaces are on the first floor of the mill.

Applications are accepted from artists, designers, and craftspeople looking to further their professional careers through dedicated studio practice. Studios will be awarded based on criteria listed below.

The OCAC is looking for creatives who:

  • Are community-minded and will benefit from a co-working, semiprivate studio environment
  • Display commitment to their craft through an existing body of work
  • Create original work
  • Are willing to participate in monthly public events, such as Last Friday Art Walk. The space will not be open to the general public other than during special events and by appointment with studio tenants.

Tenant Selection Considerations

  • The OCAC seeks to represent a variety of artistic disciplines.
  • The OCAC seeks to include artists of varying levels in their career.
  • The OCAC seeks to include artists of varying ages, races, and backgrounds.
  • Will this person’s practice work within the space available? 
  • Does this person already have a place to work?
  • Will this person use the space regularly? Will they participate in open studios and other public events?

Important Information

  • Filling out an application does not guarantee studio space.
  • The Mill Studios are work only, we do not provide live-work spaces (however this is a possibility in coming years).
  • A security deposit of one month’s rent plus first month’s rent, which may be pro-rated, are due at lease signing.
  • To ensure the safety and security of all tenants, accepted tenants must be willing to undergo a criminal background check.
  • All tenants must hold a minimum $1M general liability policy showing Orange County and Hedgehog Holdings as additional insured. You can anticipate this costing between $200-$500 per year, or approximately $20-$50 per month. Certificate of Insurance must be on file before keys are given. The OCAC can connect you with a local insurance agent to assist you, if needed.  
  • Tenants are required to sign a one-year lease which may be renewed annually for up to three years. 
  • Tenants are required to agree to our Tenant Agreement Code of Conduct.
  • For studios that do not have access to natural light, interior lighting has been installed which mimics natural light (5,000 kelvins).
  • Equipment or materials that produce excessive fumes requiring special ventilation, smoke, fire, excessive dust, noise, or permanent damage to the facilities are not appropriate for this space. Preservatives/solvents including turpentine, ammonia, sodium fluoride, phenol or mercury compounds, as well as spray paint/spray fixative and dry pigments are not allowed. Only low-odor or odor-free mineral spirits are allowed. All solvent-soaked rags must be placed in a self-closing waste disposal can and emptied on a regular basis.
  • The studios are visual artists only; however, the classrooms and gallery can be rented for musical performance and/or rehearsal.
  • Tenants must possess awareness of the health, safety, and hospitable working environment of other artist tenants and a respect for the upkeep and preservation of the facilities. This includes but is not limited to noise pollution (eg: loud equipment and music), use of toxic materials, and the use and proper disposal of studio waste (eg: solvent soaked rags, hot wax, turpentine, acetone, etc) and keeping common areas clean. Artists will also avoid unsolicited critiques and only offer feedback when asked.
  •  Allowance of pets is to be determined by selected artist group. All artists must agree to the presence of pets, otherwise, they will not be allowed.
  • A 30% commission will be collected by the OCAC for work sold in public exhibit spaces.

Arts Educator Grants are available to public school arts educators in Orange County Public Schools and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools seeking professional and/or artistic development. This program will provide four $500 grants for a variety of expenses and is designed to assist arts educators in advancing their careers.

The grants are available to any public school educator in Orange County teaching in the visual or performing arts pursing professional and/or artistic development opportunities taking place through the 2023 calendar year . The application deadline is 11:59pm on Monday, April 3, 2023.


  • Travel expenses related to workshops or seminars, or to do research related to his/her art form, such as meals, lodging and transportation.
  • Expenses related to workshops, master classes or coaching that will enhance the teacher’s abilities and/or allow the acquisition of Continuing Education Units, such as registration fees, substitute teacher costs, or required supplies.
  • Purchase of supplies, materials or equipment necessary for the completion or production of work which is considered to be essential to the advancement of his/her teaching career.

 Arts Educator Grant Program funds may not be used for the following:

  • Student travel
  • The completion of baccalaureate or post-baccalaureate degrees
  • Classroom supplies


 Applicants must meet the following eligibility requirements

  • Must be a full-time preK-12th grade teacher in the visual or performing arts at any school within Orange County Public Schools or Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools
  • Must be returning to the classroom in the consecutive school year


  • Application deadline: Monday, April 3, 11:59pm
  • Award notification: No later than Friday, April 14
  • Funds disbursement: No later than Friday, May 5
  • Grant completion deadline: December 31, 2023
  • Grant report due: Wednesday, January 31, 2024
Orange County Arts Commission