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An Investment Worth Making: A Future Pop King?

9 Jul

By Scott Walker Cunningham
Davidson College Education Scholar

2014 Digital and Media Literacy Camp student Abekh El

2014 Digital and Media Literacy Camp student Abekh El

“Do you like your name, Abekh?”

“I don’t like it. I like Jackson 2.”

“Do you feel a certain way when you dance?”

“I just love dancing. And when I dance I feel like I’m famous.”

I overheard this hallway conversation between seven-year-old Abekh El and 17-year-old Morelia Trinidad as they collaborated on a 30 second film showcasing Abekh’s self-proclaimed dance skills.

The project was for a breakout session at Studio 345’s Digital & Media Literacy camp that Abekh enrolled in and Morelia worked at as an intern. Breakout sessions offer afternoon courses that students sign up for by preference, customizing learning experiences for participants. The options this time around included Claymation, piñata making, cup stacking, and movie making. Abekh and Morelia picked the last one.

Dressed in a dark, felt hat and leather shoes, Abekh spun around the room, liable to fling off his hat or spring onto his toes in a Michael Jackson-like manner at any moment. These moves were almost always accompanied by an impressive hip gyration. Once, he even moon walked the near quarter mile from 7th Street Market back to Studio 345.

During more sedentary activities, Abekh was often difficult to settle down. But in the white-walled hallway with cameras rolling, the setting seemed natural for him. Abekh came alive as the music echoed off the walls. He slid, spun, pounced, and clapped between beats. No one was telling him to sit down, and for six straight minutes he danced like the King of Pop was watching in the corner. It was beautiful.

Feeling the groove, Abekh shows off his best moves.

Feeling the groove, Abekh shows off his best moves.

While stories of young talent like Abekh’s are not rare, his opportunity to cultivate those talents in programs like Studio 345’s is much less common. Research shows that this proves true for both Charlotte and the nation as a whole.

The National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST) produced a report in 2009 on the benefits of and needs for afterschool programming. In 2006, “86% of the providers surveyed [by the Afterschool Alliance] said that children in their communities who need after school programs do not have access to them.”

The national statistics correspond on a local level as well.  In 2011, Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s Out of School Time Task Force reported around 28,000 of the 140,000 youth in Charlotte-Mecklenburg County (CMC) that were enrolled in afterschool programming.

They also found “an estimated 35,000 additional youth [that] could benefit from afterschool programs,” leaving only 44-percent of students in need enrolled in programming. The demand exists in the CMC community for more programming, but the supply seems short.

The benefits such programs have on students are well documented by researchers. NIOST finds that arts-focused afterschool programs “can increase academic achievement, decrease youth involvement in delinquent behavior and improve youth attitudes towards themselves, and others and their futures.” Despite these findings, the Out of School Time Task Force found only “10% of youth were enrolled in summer programs that year.…[and] an estimated 3,800 youth on waiting lists for free and subsidized programs.”

When the task force approached the listed afterschool providers about this unmet need, they found lack of financial support and shrinking subsidies as commonly cited factors. These providers, however, state that they could meet the needs of additional youth with better financial support, leading to stronger staff, better facilities, and larger enrollment capacities.

The afterschool sector needs both private and public support, but the apparent costs are not as taxing as they seem. Investors and citizens alike capitalize on the social benefits of better funded afterschool programming. Fight Crime: Invest in Kids notes how “[q]uality youth development programs can cut crime immediately into academic enrichment, wholesome fun and community service.”

There are also economic benefits in supporting education. NIOST notes the Rose Institute’s findings that “[e]very dollar invested in high quality afterschool programs save taxpayers on average $3.00.” The World Literacy Foundation also finds a 3.7% increase in long-term economic growth and 6% increase in per capita income for every year that the average level of education is raised, a demonstrated result of well-executed afterschool programming.  For anyone unfamiliar with economics, ask a banking friend. That sort of growth is significant.

Aside from the financial incentives, Teach for America-Charlotte intern, Nate Harding, illustrates the social responsibilities for all citizens in improving education opportunities for youth. “We are stake holders in the future of learning [….] Volunteer, donate, advocate – the form of support you choose to take is of little importance; what matters is that you take action.”

In Studio 345’s media lounge, Morelia edited Abekh’s video on Final Cut Pro, a skill acquired during her time at Studio 345. When I asked Morelia why she decided to enroll in the program two years ago, she said that in fourth grade, she and her cousin wrote screenplays for videos. She loved filming, and when she heard about the opportunity at the studio, she had to sign up.

“I felt lucky, you know? Not many kids get to run into things like this.”

Abekh sat beside her on a dark-leather bench. Both stared at the computer screen while she worked on the video’s transitions. Abekh jumped up from his seat every time he saw himself pounce onto his toes.

“That’s me! I did that.”

Constant mouse clicks ticked over the music like a metronome.

“Yeah,” said Morelia, “Lucky would be the word.”

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Abekh giving all the right moves.

Abekh is by no means a criminal, but he's certainly smooth.

Abekh may not be the King of Pop (yet), but he already has some smooth moves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scott Cunningham is a rising junior at Davidson College with an interest in civic engagement, social entrepreneurship and the arts. His hobbies include creative writing, photography, acoustic guitar and most things athletic. He can be reached at scott.cunningham@artsandscience.org.

New leaders graduate into the cultural sector

2 Jul

By: Bernie Petit
Communications Manager

The Cultural Leadership Training (CLT) class of 2014 is poised to make its mark on our cultural sector.

Elizabeth Sheets of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Erin Pais of Wells Fargo Securities, Scott Martin of Wells Fargo Securites, Mary Ellen George of Carolina Healthcare System and Karen Cannon of Carolinas Healthcare System

Elizabeth Sheets of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Erin Pais of Wells Fargo Securities, Scott Martin of Wells Fargo Securites, Mary Ellen George of Carolina Healthcare System and Karen Cannon of Carolinas Healthcare System

On June 10, 2014, 30 of Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s emerging leaders graduated from the Arts & Science Council’s (ASC) innovative program designed to connect them with their cultural passion and prepare them to serve on boards of nonprofit organizations in Mecklenburg County.

At a ceremony on the stage of the Knight Theater at Levine Center for the Arts, the cultural grads celebrated the knowledge and skills they gained through the intensive, nine-month program.

With the graduation of the 2013-14 class, more than 280 CLT alumni have completed the program, many of whom are actively serving in leadership roles with local arts and cultural organizations, said ASC Vice President of Cultural & Community Investment Katherine Mooring.

“We are proud that, for nine years, this program has fostered talented leaders to support the cultural organizations that mean so much to our community,” Mooring said. “Each year we are amazed by the wide range of gifts, skills and knowledge possessed by the individuals who participate in CLT, as well as the depth of their commitment to supporting arts and culture in our community.”

Katherine Mooring of ASC, ASC President Robert Bush, Bob Bertges of Wells Fargo and ASC Board Chair and Piedmont Natural Gas Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Karl Newlin

Katherine Mooring of ASC, ASC President Robert Bush, Bob Bertges of Wells Fargo and ASC Board Chair and Piedmont Natural Gas Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Karl Newlin

CLT, described by a former graduate as “a backstage pass to all the cultural arts programs in town,” provides participants opportunities to deepen their appreciation of the sector, with cultural scavenger hunts and a “speed dating” session where they get to know local cultural organizations in a series of 10-minute conversations.

The emphasis, however, is on the legal responsibilities of boards, fundraising roles, arts advocacy, audience development, strategic planning, board/staff relations and how to be an effective board member. By equipping the next crop of local leaders with the tools to be productive volunteers and board members for cultural organizations, the entire cultural community stands to benefit.

“Cultural organizations gain board members and board apprentices who are better prepared to help them adapt, grow and succeed, which is important when you consider the challenges facing the cultural sector,” Mooring said.

Luke Volmar of Neighboring Concepts, Carolina Raptor Center Executive Director Jim Warren and Rober Hall of U.S. Trust

Luke Volmar of Neighboring Concepts, Carolina Raptor Center Executive Director Jim Warren and Rober Hall of U.S. Trust

The CLT program is supported in part through the generosity of Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein LLP. Now that CLT class of 2014 members have figuratively turned their tassels signifying their graduate, ASC looks forward to welcoming a new class in September.

Skyon Tryon signals rebirth of North Tryon Corridor

2 Jul

By: Bernie Petit
Communications ManagerIMG_3843

A subtle new temporary public artwork can be considered an early sign of the planned transformation of the North Tryon Corridor.

“Skyon Tryon,” created by artist Sheila Klein and installed the first week of June, is a public art installation on the underside of the I-277/North Tryon Street Bridge – the gateway into the corridor from uptown Charlotte.

If you’re in front of the McColl Center of Art + Innovation and looking away from uptown, you’ll see the bridge, located between 11th and 12th streets.

The horizontal ribs of the underpass were painted in a manner that forms a circle in the center of the space, or the sun of “Skyon Tryon.” The hue of blue used references the sky and helps define the volume of the space, according to Klein.

“This project serves to make you aware,” she wrote in her artist statement, “that the city is being developed as a new corridor to the north down Tryon, that pedestrian and bicyclists experience of the roadway is important.”

IMG_3924In 2013, the Arts & Science Council (ASC), in partnership with the City of Charlotte and McColl Center, commissioned Klein to create a public art project integrated within the future North Tryon streetscape project, which will be located just outside the I-277 loop and will include Charlotte’s first Greenroad (a certification similar to LEED for buildings).

In conjunction with the streetscape project, expected to begin in 2016, Klein was asked to create an interim work to serve as a more immediate sign of the revitalization taking place in the area.

It was an area with which Klein had become familiar. During her fall residency at McColl Center, she would walk the stretch between uptown and the underpass that connected it to North End – another name for the North Tryon corridor.

“The walk was short and very unpleasant,” Klein said. “This gave me the idea to begin the process of linking North Tryon to the center city.”

IMG_3945Klein’s atmospheric piece creates a brighter, cleaner, crisper place beneath the underpass. With the help of local contractors to complete the project – ProTec Finishes for the paint job and United Construction for traffic control – Klein also created a space that enhances the experience of those passing underneath.

“This art intervention is something to think about, to see and equally to sense,” she said. “My hope is that Skyon Tryon serves to expand the thinking about art, place and structures. Both what they are and what they can be.”

The temporary public art project is funded by a National Endowment for the Arts Our town grant and ASC. In-kind donors are United Construction and McColl Center. Supporting partners are NCDOT, the City of Charlotte and North End Partners.

“There have been a lot of things happening under the radar in North End,” said Tony Kuhn of Vision Ventures and North End Partners. This is a very visible sign of the future and the progress happening in the corridor.”

ASC Summer Camp Empowers Children Creatively

2 Jul

By David Fowler
Communication Intern

A love of learning and a love of school should be the same thing, right? However, many times our education system fails to reach every student and get the most of them creatively. There are restraints in terms of state-set curriculum and measuring achievement based on standardized testing scores.IMG_2770

At Studio 345, the Arts & Science Council (ASC) Digital Media Literacy Camp has lifted these educational restraints and campers are encouraged to explore what makes them tick creatively. Split up into three two-week sessions, the camp is designed to empower students to improve their literacy skills through the arts. Led by master-level insturctors campers will learn to work with various digital technologies including DLSR cameras, computers movie editing software, and more through project-based learning.

Camp director Crystal Lail says that by giving campers the freedom to decide what to focus their creative energy on based on their interests allows them to take ownership of their work and the things they create.

“By focusing on interest and choice we empower the campers to create things that they care about using the medium that appeals to them most,” says Lail. “It is the single greatest benefit of not having any state-set curriculum.”

Morelia Trinidad, a high school senior, works with Abekh El, a second grader, during one of the camps break-out sessions. During these sessions, students are free to choose any activity they want to participate in, with options ranging anywhere from creating original works of Claymation to building their own Rube Goldberg machines among others. Morelia is helping Abekh shoot and edit video in order to create an original mini-movie.

Morelia and Abekh edit an original short film at ASC Summer Camp

Morelia and Abekh edit an original short film at ASC Summer Camp

“We’re all learning how to take pictures and videos so we can show them off and everyone can see what we did,” says Abekh, too excited to sit still. “Sometimes it makes me feel shy, but it’s a cool feeling.”

When asked to compare Studio 345 and Digital & Media Literacy Camp to traditional school, Morelia, who has been involved with Studio 345 since her sophomore year, calls school limiting. “At school there is a lack of freedom, and not enough focus on individual creativity. Here at the studio, things are different.”

There are still two sessions of camp left this summer. If you’s like to give your child an opportunity to grow creatively and take ownership and pride in what they learn and create, then be sure to register them for one or both of the upcoming sessions.

A Hidden Perspective

23 Jun

By Scott Walker Cunningham
Education Intern

Photo by Scott Walker Cunningham.

Photo by Scott Walker Cunningham.

“Scott, want to look at my song I wrote?”

Da’Quan asked for my attention on Wednesday morning in the photography and digital media room at Studio 345 for the third day of the Arts & Science Council’s (ASC) Digital and Media Literacy summer camp. The low-lit room showcased high-quality equipment including DSLR cameras and MacBooks for each student, professional photography lighting and printing gear along the cool gray walls, and a large, flat-screen like projector at the front of the room displaying the day’s schedule. The place seemed prepared for a professional seminar.

Instead, the mechanized meeting room pulsed with vibrant young toddlers busily writing in notebooks on a Technicolor of yoga mats across the floor, young teens on apple red and green seats seeing what the other bought off the app store last night, and high school students sleepily acclimating to the energy levels of the room. Through the early blur before the morning meeting, Da’Quan walked up to me with a few verses and a chorus drafted in a notebook filled with his songs.

I met Da’Quan only two days before, and already he wanted to share the deeply personal if not a bit disjointed rendition of emotions that are high school song lyrics. It struck me how willingly he opened himself up along with his binder, asking for some communication through my simple set of eyes and a smile to say, “This is good. You should keep working on it.”

Now I think back on the color, energy, and untapped talent of that entire room. As an intern at the ASC, and immersed in the pedagogical conflicts of our day as a member of Allison Dulin of Davidson College’s Education Scholars Program, I wonder what impact I can make for the kids I work with, and what sort of form that should take.

Too new to the game to understand the complexities of meeting the needs of our young, I’ll steal an elegantly simple answer from my supervisor, ASC Vice President of Education Barbara Ann Temple, Ph.D., who told me, “Every student deserves dignity and respect as a human being.”

Muffled by the flood of neon research lit statistics on the increasing achievement gap of our day, it’s easy to forget that every individual owns a voice that can often go unheard. While we need specialists, initiatives, and outreaches for supporting the future of academic development, sometimes students want a chance to share their words as well.

Let’s remember to listen.

Scott is a rising junior at Davidson College with an interest in civic engagement, social entrepreneurship and the arts. His hobbies include creative writing, photography, acoustic guitar and most things athletic.

Taking a New Look at Charlotte’s Creeks

17 Jun

By: David Fowler
Communication Intern

Seattle has Mt. Rainier and the Puget Sound. San Francisco and Oakland are fondly referred to as the “Bay Area.” The beautiful ridges of the Rockies are visible from Denver. New York City boasts one of the largest harbors in the world. Many of the great cities in this country have some geographic landmark that helps define them and tell their story. So, what does Charlotte have? Creeks.

The history of the city of Charlotte begins at the intersection of Trade and Tryon streets. Many years ago, Trade and Tryon were Native American trading paths. Trade and Tryon are located where they are because they run along the high ground formed by nearby creeks. Many people fail to realize the significant impact that the creeks have had in Charlotte’s history.

Mary Newsom, Associate Director of Urban and Regional Affairs at the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute, is one of the leading minds behind a project called City of Creeks designed to celebrate the creeks of Charlotte. City of Creeks, which is expected to launch in the spring of 2015, will combine hard science, heritage, and the arts to highlight the importance of the creeks in the area and engage the public on the topic in a new way.

“There seems to be this civic angst about the lack of a distinctive land form in Charlotte. We don’t have a mountain or a harbor or a bay,” said Newsom. “What we have is creeks.”

The project will consist of written and published narratives of three different creeks in the area. These narratives will analyze in depth the current state of the creeks as well as explore the history and heritage of the creeks and the impact they’ve had on the community. In addition to these publications, artists in the area will create pieces of art influenced by the profiles and scientific findings in the creeks studied.

The goal of the project is to celebrate the creeks of Charlotte while also engaging locals in local environmental issues.

“The artists that work with us will put together gallery exhibits in the UNC Charlotte gallery uptown,” said Newsom. “They will also be out in the community, taking their art and our message to the people in order to engage and educate them.”

City of Creeks is year two of KEEPING WATCH, a three year collaborations between the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute and the UNC Charlotte College of Arts + Architecture. KEEPING WATCH is designed to explore three different environmental issues and engage citizens in public discourse. For more information on KEEPING WATCH, visit http://www.keepingwatch.org.Image

Cultural Life Task Force releases its findings

16 Jun

By Bernie Petit
Communications Manager

CLTF Final Report-Instagram

Artwork by Sharon Dowell

The blueprint for creating a sustainable funding model to secure Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s cultural sector has been revealed.
The Cultural Life Task Force – a diverse group representing local philanthropy, non-profits, government and business – has released its final recommendations for funding the arts and culture sector. Over the last 13 months, the citizen task force examined the history and current financial state of the local sector, as well as similar cities across the nation, to offer insight for how to pay for the Charlotte region’s cultural life.
In order to ensure vibrant, accessible arts, science and history programming for future generations in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, the task force recommends four key goals:
1) Restructure private sector giving to increase donations directly to cultural organizations. This includes establishing the Arts & Science Council (ASC) as the gateway for new cultural donors and participants who enter the sector through a workplace campaign.
2) Engage local and state government to recommit and expand support for the cultural sector to restore the public/private partnership that built and grew the local arts, science and history sector.
3) Redesign ASC and its mission so that it can be more effective in leading the cultural community’s adaptation to 21st-century trends in philanthropy, demographics and citizen participation.
4) Support ASC cultural partners with administrative, fundraising and managerial resources as they revise, build and improve their programmatic, revenue and governance operations and sustainability.
“The sector-wide transformation begins with stabilization by private donors and government, continues through increased efficiency, engagement and outreach by local cultural groups, and moves toward long-term solutions through a restored public/private funding partnership,” the 174-page report reads.
For decades, the public-private fundraising model of workplace giving campaigns and partnerships with local and state government earned the dollars necessary to support cultural institutions and fund neighborhood projects, education programs for school children and grants to individual artists.
But over the past several years, local arts, science and history nonprofits have endured severe revenue reductions from public and private source, a trend exacerbated by the severity of the downturn in Charlotte resulting from the national financial crisis.
Some groups have since closed their doors, while others cut administrative functions. In many cases, organizations have attempted to do more with less, spending money on programming while trimming staff and fundraising resources.
“That’s a great plan if it’s a temporary plan,” task force co-chair Valecia McDowell, an attorney with Moore & Van Allen, told The Charlotte Observer. “Eventually you get to a place where that begins to cripple the organization, and it begins to crumble under the weight of its own infrastructure.”
Civic, corporate and community leaders formed the task force in May 2013 to examine the history and current financial state of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg cultural sector and to ensure its viability.
Task force members were appointed by the City of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, Charlotte Center City Partners, Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, UNC Charlotte, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Foundation For The Carolinas, the Charlotte Chamber and ASC.
“Arts and culture are imperative to our region’s vitality and are a major contributor to the quality of life her in Charlotte,” said task force co-chair Pat Riley, president of Allen Tate Realtors. “The path we’re on will not sustain the cultural sector we need to remain an outstanding place to work and live. This task force has worked diligently to make sure no stone was left unturned and every factor was considered. I am proud of the blueprints we have presented that will, hopefully, spark positive change in Charlotte.”
The report also recommends shifts in ASC’s strategy. Among them:

• Redesign the annual fund drive to a year-round cultural campaign;
• Launch a major data collection, warehousing, analysis, and sharing project;
• Strengthen ties with the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority to make the city more of a cultural tourism destination; and
• Design and implement a $125 million endowment campaign over the next decade, in collaboration with its cultural partners and the Greater Charlotte Cultural Trust.
“There is nothing in here that scares me,” ASC President Robert Bush told the Observer about the recommendations. “There is much here that makes me think in new ways. We’re up for the task.”

A community appeal from ASC

12 Jun

From 2014 ASC Annual Fund Drive Chair Richard T. “Stick” Williams and ASC President Robert Bush

Whether you live, work, go to school in or visit Charlotte-Mecklenburg, you benefit from the organizations and programs supported by dollars from the Arts & Science Council (ASC).

For that reason, back in January we asked the community to dig deep to help ASC reach its 2014 Annual Fund Drive goal of $6.9 million to sustain the cultural sector. And it’s why we’re asking you to dig a little deeper to help ASC reach its goal.

2014 ASC Annual Fund Drive Chair Richard T. "Stick" Williams.

2014 ASC Annual Fund Drive Chair Richard T. “Stick” Williams.

The public portion of ASC’s campaign was scheduled to end April 30. In May, ASC worked to wrap up remaining employee campaigns as well as finalize corporate and foundation gifts. However, as of June 1, we have commitments for $6 million — $900,000 short of the goal.

In order to finish the job, ASC is making a special appeal to the community to help us reach our annual campaign goal by June 30.

Reaching this goal is vital. Fewer dollars to ASC means fewer dollars to support cultural groups that have suffered more than a 40-percent reduction in funding since 2009. It also brings less cultural programming; cuts to grant funding that provides greater access to arts, science and history experiences; and possibly the elimination of cultural events our community has grown to cherish.

This year’s $6.9 million goal represents a 7-percent increase over the $6 million in unrestricted dollars and $450,000 in education funding ASC raised for the cultural community in 2013. Last year’s campaign fell $500,000 short of its unrestricted-gifts goal, resulting in a 4-percent cut in operating support to organizations.

ASC President Robert Bush.

ASC President Robert Bush.

The Annual Fund Drive campaign cabinet believes ASC can fill the gap by extending this opportunity for individuals and companies to donate.

Please remember – and tell your friends – that every dollar to ASC matters. Individuals can make a gift online at ArtsAndScience.org or can mail a check to Arts & Science Council, 227 W. Trade St., Suite 250, Charlotte, NC 28202. If you have already given, please consider giving a little more. If you just haven’t gotten around to making your pledge, please make it happen by June 30.

Thank you to all of the campaign volunteers for your hard work to date and to those individuals and companies that have donated to ASC.

For 56 years, our community has rallied together to raise the funds that have built and sustained our arts, science and history organizations. Together we can meet this challenge again.

ASC is You & Me!

 

10 @ two recap – ASC President Robert Bush answers your questions

5 Jun

Compiled by David Fowler
Communication Intern

ASC_10@2Logo_F

How can you get involved in the cultural sector in Charlotte?

Arts & Science Council (ASC) President Robert Bush touches on this and more in our most recent 10 @ two Facebook Q&A series.

The next 10 @ two question-and-answer segment is scheduled for June 25 at 2 p.m. (Subject to change)

Here is a recap of the questions and answers from the June 4 edition of 10 @ two.

Q: What are the benefits/offers available with the new Connect with Culture card? In the past it has been buy one/get one deals at participating locations, but I heard there will be changes this year. Thanks!

A: The biggest change is that the new Connect with Culture card is that later in June or early July, you will receive a mailer with your new Connect with Culture card. You will need to go only and register your card (not unlike your favorite grocery store card). Thre will still be buy one/get one deals, but on a regular basis you will get special discount ticket opportunities via email that are very current special offers just for ASC donors.

Q: Will Studio 345 have volunteer work over the summer?

A: There are always volunteer work opportunities with Studio 345. You need to reach out to Janice Tucker at janice.tucker@artsandscience.org – Janice can help answer your question more specifically!

Q: I heard that during the recent Fund Drive, several events were held at ASC supporters’ homes. Why was this format selected, and how would I be able to be included on future events held at households of supporters?

A: ASC did host events in a number of private homes during our 2014 Annual Fund Drive. We did this to help re-introduce ASC to past donors, who have stopped giving, as well as meet new potential donors. Good fund raising is about building relationships and what better way to do that than in a social setting. The individuals who hosted events volunteered to do so and worked with our development staff to plan the event. They were very successful and we are planning additional opportunities in the future. If you would like to host – contact Lynne Wooten – lynne.wooten@artsandscience.org. Thanks!

Q: (From Discovery Place) Hi Robert! We just had Van Gogh Alive leave Charlotte earlier this week. This exhibition brought art & technology together, which was a great opportunity to partner with our friends at The Mint Museum and Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. What other types of cultural collaborations would you like to see Charlotte’s arts & science community work together on?

A: Hi DP friends – Congrats on an exciting Van Gogh Alive exhibition and the partnerships that surrounded it. We are very fortunate to have many collaborations within the cultural community – the Ulysses Festival is one example; the 5th grade field trip for students (Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, Opera Carolina, and Charlotte Ballet partner to bring a multi-disciplinary experience titles “Endless Possibilities.”) In the past a number of organizations have programmed around a common theme – this even happened in the late 1980s when the Mint hosted Ramesses the Great, Discovery Place hosted a mummy exhibit, Opera Carolina performed AIDA and Theatre Charlotte produced the Agatha Christie classic Murder on the Nile – more recently many groups partnered around themes from South Africa in craft, film, music and dance. I think it could be very exciting to have regular (probably not annual) themes that we all work on together to provide our residents and visitors and opportunity to dive deep into the rich culture of a country, people or even the work of a single artist like Van Gogh.

Q: Hi, Robert. My organization hires a lot of recent graduates. One characteristic of this generation is they are hungry for a vibrant cultural scene. What is the best way to get them plugged in as they make Charlotte their home? Also, can you talk about the outreach efforts of ASC to local businesses (i.e. workplace campaigns), particularly those businesses that are peripheral to Uptown?

A: The best way for anyone to know the incredibly vibrant cultural community that we all shar is by going online to http://www.CharlotteCultureGuide.com and signing up for a weekly email with the ‘hot’ ticket list – look for Culture Picks in the upper right hand corner. Also, many cultural groups have programs for young adults (including ASC’s YDS – Young Donor Society) – you can find out about those by exploring websites – great places to start are the Mint Museum, Bechtler Museum, McColl Center, Levine Museum, Charlotte Symphony, Charlotte Ballet, Blumenthal Performing Arts just to name a few! As to outreach to local businesses, we conduct workplace campaigns across the countryin businesses large and small – we also fund programs all over Mecklenburg County. If you’d like to start a workplace giving effort, it’s easy and paperless. Just contact Shannon Crawford in our Development Office at shannon.crawford@artsandscience.org.

Q: Robert, congratulations on becoming ASC’s President! CSA has a few wonderful interns this summer helping with programming and development. What advice would you give students and professionals who are interested in working in the cultural sector?

A: Hello CSA friends – working in the cultural sector can be a very rewarding life but it is work, so you need to make sure that you are passionate about what you are doing. I began my work life in a high school classroom teaching Spanish, and those teaching experiences help me to this day. I believe that in my role, I have to biggest classroom around – all of Mecklenburg and I see an important part of my role is educating the community about the great arts, science and history resources available for all of us that call Charlotte-Mecklenburg home. So my best advice, never be afraid to try something new, working your way up the ladder provides great experience, don’t be afraid to ask people for financial support – the worst they can say is no but it might open a door in the future and ALWAYS be a student of the arts, sciences and history… You will be better for it and you will do a better job!

Q: I first heard a theme a few month ago about Charlotte being a “world class city,” largely in part to its arts and cultural involvement with the city and its communities. Obviously, I think, we are doing something right! Do you think we have some lessons learned that could be shared with other cities? What would some of those lessons be?

A: Hi Lindsay – I think that what has set Charlotte apart is the public/private partnership that has been built to support our cultural community and that we regularly plan for our cultural future. That may seem a very non-creative response but we have the great museums and performing arts groups we have because almost 40 years ago community leaders decided investing in arts and culture was the key to our future from both a quality of life stand point as well as economic development. But, the partnership is fraying around edges and what we have built is at risk. Over the past year, a county-wide task force has studied this issue and will be making its findings and recommendations public in the coming weeks. That first plan in 1976 created Discovery Place and Spirit Square and led to building the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, new Mint Museum, Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Culture and the McColl Center just to name a few. In this morning’s Charlotte Observer, Hugh McColl is quoted is an editorial entitled “Who helps city bounce back? You” – he clearly states – ” The strength is we have the bones in place. The weakness is too many citizens take this for granted. They think someone else can handle it.” We each have a part to play and responsibility. We built this community together and it will only flourish if we all continue to do our part – so get out there and go to a museum, or a concert, or play, or festival. Make a contribution to a group you love or think is doing great work. Be a participant in Charlotte – not a spectator.

Q: Hey Robert, I am curious as to the role ASC is playing as an advocate for the cultural sector at both the local and state level.

A: ASC is very active in the advocacy area at all levels – federal, state, and local. Two weeks ago, ASC leg a delegation of local residents to Raleigh for the annual Arts Day at the NC Legislature. The best way to be sure and know about cultural issues and to let your voice be heard is by signing up for voterVoice by going here – https://www.votervoice.net/ARTSUSA/register – registering for voterVoicewill make sure you know about advocacy needs at all levels – local, state, and national. It’s a free way to let your voice be heard.

A new place to spark STEM learning

30 May

By David Fowler
Communications Intern

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” – William Butler Yeats

 

Ribbon cutting for the new Discovery Place Education Studio.

Ribbon cutting for the new Discovery Place Education Studio.

So it reads on a wall inside the new Discovery Place Education Studio in Uptown Charlotte, a professional development program for pre K-12 STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) educators. However, these are more than decorative words on a wall.

The quote defines the purpose of the Education Studio and its mission.

The studio will train educators through hands-on methods, awe-inspiring curriculums, and collaborative partnerships in hopes of bringing a sense of wonder back to STEM classrooms. By developing STEM teachers through various programs, Discovery Place hopes to have a massive trickle-down effect to the students in those classes. So often all it takes is a spark of intrigue to light a fire of passion.
The studio will provide teachers with the opportunity to hone their craft and become inspired, impactfulEd Center 3 STEM educators. With workshops ranging anywhere from DIY rockets and catapults to hydroponics, and various field experiences in topics like archaeology and sea turtles, there is no shortage of opportunity for growth, inspiration, and ideas for STEM teachers to bring back to their classrooms and incorporate in their own curriculums.
There is no universal way of learning that works the same for everyone, and Discovery Place recognizes this fact. Because no two students learn the same way, programs at the studio will aim to arm educators with resources and curriculum ideas, while also encouraging teachers to adapt these tools to fit the needs of their own students.
With the support of Bank of America, Duke Energy, UTC Aerospace Systems and OrthoCarolina, Discovery Place will open its doors to educators this summer. Through the creation of other partnerships, Discovery Place hopes to continue to develop the studio and grow its impact on STEM education in the community.
The future of STEM education in Charlotte is bright.

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