Cape Fear Studios was “born” at the request of the city of Fayetteville and the Arts Council.  The city wanted an occupant in the Eastern Turf Building storage area and thought it would be an appropriate location for a group of local artists.  A meeting was held with the Arts Council and a number of local artists to suggest the idea.  The city agreed to install a new roof and heating and air conditioning system if the artists would agree to clean up the inside of the dilapidated building.

With the help of many consultants, CFS was incorporated October 4, 1989.  The disbanded White Lake craft group donated their $2500 and founding member Barbara Olcott donated the $300 incorporation fee.

Before being able to move into the building, CFS members spent weeks removing falling plaster from the walls.  A portion of the plaster remains as a memory behind the front retail desk.  After cleaning the plaster, members thoroughly cleaned the space, painted, and installed studio partitions that had been discarded by the city from another site.

CFS moved into the building in February 1991 with 24 members.  There was only ONE visitor the entire first month – the director of Cumberland Community Foundation.  The grand opening and ribbon cutting by mayor J. L. Dawkins was held April 27, 1991.

The city charged CFS only $10 per year for rent for the first few years.  The studios, however, was responsible for paying for its own insurance, electricity, water, and phone.

All of the first retail display equipment was purchased at a couple of the Belk’s used display sales.  Today, it is still in use and is the main part of the retail display equipment used by the studios.

The first art show was held in the fall of 1991.  It featured member Charlotte Lane with a local soapstone artist.

 Cape Fear Studios has grown to accomplish many of our goals through out the years.  We worked with Greg Hathaway to establish the 4th Friday gallery  crawl.  We went from a new exhibit every 6 to 8 weeks to a new exhibit every month.  We have featured many artists throughout the years, coming from the Fayetteville, Cumberland County area, the state of North Carolina, Nationally and Internationally.  We have been able to bring a variety of art forms throughout the years, watercolor, pastel, oil paintings, different print forms, glass works, wood and ceramic sculpture, fabric art and local pottery.

We have established 2 national competitions. The Nellie Allen Smith Juried Pottery competition was established in 1996 and Cape Fear Studios 2 D competition was established in 2009.  We also have established The Lois Ferrari Arts Scholarship which gives a local area university student $500 for art supplies and gives them an opportunity to hang their work in our gallery.  

We have provided many art education opportunities for our community throughout our 25 years. Our artists have taught pottery and clay camps during the summer and after school.  We have worked to provide summer art experiences to the children of The Ashton Woods Project. Kids Peace and through the Fayetteville Parks and Recreation programs. This last year we were able to provide 4 free art camps with the support of the Arts Council, The Florence Rodgers Trust and the Cumberland Community Foundation and our many donors.  We are always striving to follow our mission to involve, educate, and enrich Cumberland County and surrournding communities with the opportunity to create and freely view art.