About the Hickory Playground

Dylan Tashjian (left), Robert Fuller (center), and Jordan Makant (right) present an oversized check to a school and talk to the students about the importance of the arts in 2017.

Dylan Tashjian (left), Robert Fuller (center), and Jordan Makant (right) present an oversized check to a school and talk to the students about the importance of the arts in 2017.

The Hickory Playground is a 501(c)(3) arts advocacy non-profit with a primary mission of investing in the artists of tomorrow by offering financial support to arts departments in public education. Since its inception in 2016, it has granted more than $37,000 to more than a dozen different public schools in Catawba County, North Carolina.  All grants are directly reinvested back into arts programs to lift the diverse voices of the artists, leaders, and activists of tomorrow.

The organization was founded to promote art activism and awareness, initially in Catawba County, and to be a national blueprint to promote the arts in public schools in communities around the country.

Robert Fuller (left), Dylan Tashjian (center), and Jordan Makant (right) celebrate a successful Gala for the Arts on May 31, 2019.

Robert Fuller (left), Dylan Tashjian (center), and Jordan Makant (right) celebrate a successful Gala for the Arts on May 31, 2019.

We advocate for students in public education, often victimized by budget cuts, by providing independent, earmarked funding for arts in our schools.  We provide a platform to emerging artists by producing an annual forty-eight-hour play festival as well as a visual arts gala featuring artists of all disciplines.  The HPG is a safe place for artists of all disciplines and experience levels to thrive.  We create opportunities so that anyone can be an artist, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or any other societal barrier.

Conceived by Hickory natives Dylan Tashjian, Robert Fuller, and Jordan Makant, the organization is designed to be sustainably low-cost and high-impact.


Mission & Vision

The mission of the Hickory Playground, Inc. is to invest in the artists of Western North Carolina by raising and distributing financial support to arts departments in public schools in Catawba County. We do this by producing an annual forty-eight hour play festival, as well as an arts gala featuring visual artists of all disciplines.

The vision of the Hickory Playground, Inc. is to engage our community by facilitating the creation of new art, supporting new artists, and raising financial support for arts education in Catawba County. Ultimately, the Hickory Playground seeks to act as a model and blueprint for arts activism in communities around the state, nation, and world.

Morgan Honeycutt (artist and designer of the Hickory Playground logo) at the first Gala for the Arts, June 2nd, 2018.

Morgan Honeycutt (artist and designer of the Hickory Playground logo) at the first Gala for the Arts, June 2nd, 2018.