Ben Folds, Nnenna Freelon, Mark Hewitt, and More Headline Big Night In for the Arts

Support North Carolina creatives while enjoying our state’s rich music, pottery, poetry, and arts culture on the big screen.
by Addie Ladner

The Big Night In for the Arts fundraiser is back this year, a rare opportunity to see a broad range of talent with North Carolina roots, all performing live. “Although the arts community is slowly beginning to rebuild, there is still a great need to help the artists and organizations essential to the recovery of our region,” says Ragen Carlile, interim president of the United Arts Council. Carlile says the event, an effort joined by sponsorsWRAL, Durham Arts Council, Orange County Arts Commission, Chatham Arts Council, and United Arts Council, raised $350,000 last year, and they are hoping to take that momentum into this year’s televised event. 

“Our hope is to again rally around the arts community so that North Carolina’s arts and culture do not just survive, but thrive in the future,” she says. The evening’s headliners include jazz singer Nnenna Freelon, tap dancer Jabu Graybeal, alt-rocker Ben Folds, folksy singer-songwriter MC Taylor of Hiss Golden Messenger, poet Jaki Shelton Green, and potter Mark Hewitt, among others. To round out the night, Mitchell Casteel catering will be offering a dinner box for purchase inspired by the performers (order between now and Feb. 28).

This Year’s Big Night in the Arts Lineup

Grammy-nominated  jazz vocalist, composer, actress, and playwright Nneena Freelon

MC Taylor of critically acclaimed Americana folk band Hiss Golden Messenger

Award-winning North Carolina potter Mark Hewitt

Musician, best-selling author, award-winning photographer, and outspoken arts champion Ben Folds

Acclaimed North Carolina Poet Laureate and educator Jaki Shelton Green

Musical artist, dancer, and Pittsoboro native Jabu Graybeal

Catch the show live-streaming on WRAL-TV on March 10 at 7 p.m. The show is free to view, but donations during its fundraiser are encouraged. Visit for more information.