Builders and Shapers: Dare Arts

Builders and Shapers: Dare Arts

May 23rd, 2023

For almost a half-century, one organization has been finding innovative ways to connect residents and visitors with the creative side of the Greater Outer Banks.

Whether it’s clay, paint or metal. Or capturing images on glossies and digital mediums. And those whose art is presented in words, music or dance.

For this edition of our collaboration with the Outer Banks Community Foundation and the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau, Dare Arts executive director Jessica Sands details the variety of mediums they are Building and Shaping.

Who do you serve, and how?
Our ultimate goal is to serve the entirety of Dare County in some way.  We feel that there is something for everyone at Dare Arts.  More specifically we serve:

  • Artists of all Ages

  • Outer Banks Visitors & Residents

  • Art Lovers

  • Underserved Populations

  • Veterans

We serve people through our community programs, rotating exhibits, special events, workshops, and our Gallery & Courtyard in Downtown Manteo.  But we are open to new ideas and partnerships!  Come see us!

When and why was your nonprofit created?

The Ladies of Dare Arts: Lynne Francis, Gallery Director (left); Tatum Clements, Media Director; Jessica Sands, Executive Director; 
Tiffany Lindsey, Gallery Manager; 
Michelle Alexander, Program Director.

Back in 1975, a group of Dare County residents met at the home of Mollie Fearing where they set about founding an organization that would introduce thousands of school children and adults to music, dance, theater, painting, sculpture, poetry, and literature. 

The organization would initially be called Sea and Sounds Arts Council, and later, the Dare County Arts Council.  In 2022, the organization was rebranded and is now simply called Dare Arts.

Yes, we are already planning for our 50th Year Celebration coming up in 2025!

What are some of the benefits of your organization’s work?
Through our Power of Art program, we foster strong partnerships with established Outer Banks organizations (Outer Banks Health, Monarch, Outer Banks Dementia Friendly Coalition, GEM) to bring arts programming to underserved populations including adults with cognitive decline or developmental disabilities & those affected by cancer.

We provide outlets for local and regional artists to showcase and sell their work through the Gallery and events as well as opportunities for them to share their talents with our community through workshops.

We help boost the economy in downtown Manteo through our First Friday and Manteo Stroll program.  With support from the Town of Manteo and the Manteo Business Association, we bring tourists and locals alike to experience this popular community event. 

We bring unique experiences to the Outer Banks community through collaborations with other arts organizations like the Bryan Cultural Series & Theatre of Dare.  Some of these include music & dance residencies with Dare County Schools and Mended Wing’s accessible Shakespeare performances.

Are there issues you address that will ever “go-away” through your work?
The issues we address are ever-changing and we work hard to advocate for our artists, enrich our community, and provide unique art opportunities for all of our audiences.  

What else would you like readers to know (perhaps an interesting insight or heartwarming story)?
My favorite story from this year was the collaboration we facilitated between art students at Manteo High School and clients at Monarch, a day program that supports adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 

[courtesy Dare Arts]
Through our Power of Art program, Holly Humphlett’s students met, interviewed, and photographed our friends at Monarch.

Then they took all the information they gathered and created digital art portraits of each of the participants. 

A special reception was held where the families of the students and the clients came together for the grand reveal of the pieces.  It was a special day and was touted as the highlight of the year for many involved.

The other thing I would want people to know is that our organization is an umbrella for all art forms.  While the gallery is our main hub of activity, we try to incorporate all art mediums into our programming throughout the year.  

What’s new? What are your upcoming events or initiatives? 

For the 11th year on June 1 & 2, Rock the Cape will highlight the artists, musicians, and galleries of Hatteras Island.

During the month of June, Dare Arts will kick-off its first ever month of programming featuring LGBTQ+ artists in various locations.

We have an exhibit in the Courthroom Gallery June 2-June 30th, entitled Outside Straight Lines: A Visual Arts Exhibition Featuring Queer Artists.

The opening reception will be held on First Friday, June 2nd from 6-8pm at Dare Arts in Manteo.

Also on First Friday, June 2, we have a concert from 6 to 8pm: The Storyweavers, Live Music in the Courtyard, at Dare Arts in Manteo.

That’s followed by have fire dancing at 8pm by Panda Daniels, who will bring a spectacular performance to Manteo as the sun sets on First Friday.  

Then Wednesday, June 13th, 7pm, its an Open Mic Night for all LGBTQ+ and allies and encourages any and all performance arts (song, poetry, read aloud, comedy, etc).

It will be held at Hi Vibe Holistics Listening Room in Kill Devil Hills. Get details at

June through August at the gallery in the old courthouse, fiber artist Elisa McVearry will install her artwork in our courtyard to be debuted on First Friday, June 2nd and it will remain up through the summer.

On Thursday, June 8th, 7pm, Mama’s Black Sheep will perform live music at Waveriders in Nags Head.

And we just kicked off our first midday concert series, Courtyard Sessions: Live At Lunch Concert Series. Every Wednesday from 11:30-1:30 through September in Downtown Manteo.

Doug Dino performing at the Courtyard Sessions: Live At Lunch Concert Series.

We have Weekly Workshops for Artists of all Ages throughout the summer.

Returning October 6-28 is The Great Art Heist:  A Benefit Art Auction.  Our only fundraiser of the year. And in November we have Outer Banks Veterans Week featuring our Veterans Writing Workshop.

For more information on Dare Arts:

In conjunction with the Outer Banks Community Foundation and the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau, WOBX has launched “Builders and Shapers: Nonprofits for a Greater Outer Banks” a weekly series featuring the nonprofits that serve our area. They share details about how they are working to make northeastern North Carolina and the Outer Banks a better place to live, work and play.

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