Catawba fund creates opportunities for young artists

Kathryn Greathouse served as executive director of the United Arts Council of Catawba County for 26 years. When she retired in 2021, Danielle Cannon, Arts Council board president at the time, wanted the retirement party to be something special—something quintessentially Kathy.

At the farewell, there was a video highlighting Greathouse’s career, awards (the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, among others) and well wishes from friends and colleagues. Then there came the announcement of the Kathryn Greathouse Legacy Scholarship Fund. Although the party was not a surprise to Greathouse, the scholarship fund certainly was.

“I was dumbfounded,” said Greathouse. “I kept trying to understand what I was hearing. It took a while to sink in. There was nothing that could have been more perfect.”

“Because of what Kathy did as executive director of the United Arts Council for so many years and because the function of the Arts Council is to give out grants, we thought ‘What better way to honor her than to set up a scholarship in her name?’” said Cannon.

The United Arts Council of Catawba County works to improve the arts and cultural life of the local community through grants, marketing, fundraising, advocacy and education. The organization promotes local art and cultural activities, as well as grant and contribution opportunities.

Years ago, the Arts Council administered a small scholarship fund for helping art students, but it was quickly depleted. This time around, the Greathouse Legacy Scholarship fund has quickly shown itself to be a different creature. Committee plans for the new fund began humbly—the initial hope was to gather about $5,000 to $8,000—but, as support for the fund spread, every time the planning committee met, the tally grew until it reached $25,000.

Aside from the size of the fund, there was another vital difference.

“We hope this scholarship fund will last long into the future,” said Ingrid Keller, current executive director of the Arts Council. “We want to ensure that after we’re all gone, the scholarship will continue to be used in the way it was intended.”

Connecting with the North Carolina Community Foundation to achieve that longevity was a logical step which was initiated by Jamie Treadaway, president of the local affiliate. Greathouse and many of the fund’s planners were already aware of NCCF from its work with the Unifour Foundation Endowment Fund (Greathouse was a founding board member) and the Catawba Valley Community Foundation, an NCCF affiliate.

The mission of the Greathouse scholarship fund is to provide cultural education opportunities to elementary, middle school and high schoolers. The fund, based on need and merit, mirrors Greathouse’s passion for helping young people pursue their artistic endeavors. Scholarships can be used for such areas of study as music, voice, visual art, dance, writing, drama/acting and music composition.

“It can also be for those kinds of materials that they might need, like an instrument or equipment to help them become better artists,” said Keller. “For example, if a young, aspiring ballerina really wants to dance for the New York City Ballet one day but can’t afford  toe shoes because they wear out so quickly, this scholarship can help that student achieve that dream.”

During her years as executive director of the United Arts Council of Catawba County, Greathouse met many young people with the talent, drive and ambition to pursue a career in the arts.

 “However, it was apparent that talent, drive and ambition are not enough, unless combined with opportunity,” she said. “The sad truth is that gifted young people do not always have the instrument, supplies or professional teaching that would propel them forward. I hope the Kathryn Greathouse Legacy Scholarship might close that gap and offer encouragement to promising young artists, who, after all, hold our future in their talented hands,” Greathouse added.