Yesterday, ASC held its annual Impact & Investment event to announce initial investments being made to enhance the cultural life of Charlotte-Mecklenburg. At this event, as in the work I do as Advocacy Coordinator, the struggle is how to convey the broad impact and importance of what the Arts & Science Council does. How do we communicate all the work we do for our community? Often, we try to quantify it in numbers:
- $11.3 million will be invested by ASC in the cultural sector this year
- More than 65 arts, science, history and heritage organizations and programs will be funded
- There were more than 4.1 million cultural customer experiences in 2010. That’s more than DOUBLE all of the 2010 Panthers, Bobcats, Checkers, Knights and Eagles games, and the NASCAR Sprint Cup races and Quail Hollow golf tournament’s combined attendance of 1.95 million.
- 1.7 million cultural experiences provided for children and youth
- Over 4,700 local jobs created by our cultural partners
- $158 million in economic impact provided locally by the cultural sector
The numbers are strong, but still are they enough to understand the impact? Yesterday, we also tried to show that impact though a diversity of experiences – a violin performance by Bob Ennis, pieces from Fame performed by the Student Theatre Guild of Theatre Charlotte, a multi-disciplinary work by McColl Award winner John W. Love Jr. and a spoken word piece by Quentin Talley.
Quentin somehow managed to fit the names of all the projects and organizations being funded beautifully and poetically in to the space of a few minutes. In a final line of the piece he said thank you to ASC for providing “funding to keep the community learning”.
We often think of culture as entertainment, as an outlet, and it certainly can be. Even more than that though, it is a way to learn and engage. Culture creates opportunities to bind our citizens together. In this global and diverse world, cultural experiences provide education that cannot be rivaled. The arts open us up to a world beyond our own, forcing us to see others’ points of view and to reflect.
At ASC, what we do is so much greater than simply providing support for Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s amazing cultural institutions. This organization is truly an advocate for the citizens of our county and their relationship with arts, science, history and culture.
In the climate of the recent economy with public funding to the arts being cut at all levels, it sometimes seems that my task as Advocacy Coordinator is a difficult one. But an event like Impact & Investment reminds me that the task is not so hard if I can find a way to tell the story properly, as Quentin did so eloquently and concisely.