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Thank You From ASC

29 Jul

By Robert Bush
President

ASC President Robert Bush.

ASC President Robert Bush.

Thanks to the support of public and private donors, like you, the Arts & Science Council has secured $13 million to invest in the cultural sector for fiscal year 2014-2015. These dollars incorporate funds raised through the 2014 Annual Fund Drive, restricted gifts for special projects (such as Project L.I.F.T. intercessions and Knight Innovation), endowment earnings, foundation grants and public funding from the city of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina Arts Council, and Mecklenburg municipalities.

I am pleased to announce that ASC’s Board of Directors has approved allocations totaling $10.8 million for 2014-2015. ASC’s initial awards for the year total $6.6 million. These grants fund 49 neighborhood cultural projects, festivals, programming in all Mecklenburg County municipalities, and support the operations of 22 cultural organizations. Additionally, ASC has received $750,000 that will be passed to Blumenthal Performing Arts for the operations of Spirit Square. We anticipate ASC will distribute $1.4 million in education, $1.2 million in public art and additional project and technical assistance funding in the coming months.

Although ASC is funding organizations and programs, the cultural sector continues to face a revenue challenge. Unfortunately, that challenge has impacted the sector’s work in cultural education more than ever this year.

Due to ASC’s Annual Fund Drive having an $800,000 shortfall on a $6.9 million goal, ASC has suspended its support of arts, science, and history curriculum-based field trips for students in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. This cut impacts more than 50,000 CMS students. ASC has also made reductions internally and in other grant programs including Cultural Project Grants, Festival Grants, Technical Assistance Grants and School Grants.

These cuts were not an easy decision to make. Without an increase in financial support from the public and private sectors, ASC cannot sustain the funding for these field trips to Discovery Place, Latta Plantation, Blumenthal Performing Arts and other cultural organizations.

I am happy to let you know that despite the campaign shortfall, there is no decrease in funding to the 22 cultural organizations in Mecklenburg County that receive unrestricted operating support in fiscal year 2014-2015. These grants had been cut annually for years, so it was a top priority to keep the funding level flat to help them retain a strong financial footing.

Even though the cultural sector faces a setback related to the field trips, I am proud of the initial round of investments that will help provide access to cultural experiences that are personally empowering and transformative. I hope you, your family and friends will be able to experience many of them for yourselves.

Thank you again for your support of ASC.

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!

 

Arts and Culture: Supplying much more than meets the eye

24 Apr

By David Currence
Marketing Manager

Image

You might think about arts and culture as only museums, galleries and theaters.

But here’s a new way of thinking of them – as job creators, economic stimulators and active contributors to the local business community.

Nonprofit arts and culture are a $202.8 million industry in Charlotte-Mecklenburg – one that supports more than 6,200 full-time equivalent jobs, generates $144.6 million in household income for local residents and delivers $18.1 million in local and state government revenue.

Don’t worry about those facts and figure, just remember this: the arts mean business.

The common misconception is that communities support the arts and culture at the expense of local economic development. But the reality is leaders who care about their community and its economic vitality should feel good about investing in the arts.

It’s an investment in an industry that creates local jobs, generates government revenue and spends its dollars in its own backyard. As Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s chief advocate and supporter for arts and culture, the Arts & Science Council (ASC) is the primary investor for many of the cultural experiences that enrich all of our lives. Therefore, supporting ASC is the wisest investment of all because ASC is you and me.

ASC helps theatre reach all generations

4 Apr

By Bernie Petit
Communications Manager

The Arts & Science Council (ASC) supports Matthews Playhouse and its mission through a Cultural & Community Investment grant.

The Arts & Science Council (ASC) supports Matthews Playhouse and its mission through a Cultural & Community Investment grant.

A funny thing happened when Matthews Playhouse of the Performing Arts began offering productions for kids nearly 20 years ago.

Adults wanted to play, too.

So the playhouse expanded to give adults in southern Mecklenburg opportunities to shine.

“We try to be a big arts presence in Matthews,” said playhouse representative Melisa Verch. “They love the arts here and we try to be a big venue for that.”

It’s why more than 6,000 students will see a Matthews Playhouse performance with their school this season.

“Introducing them to live theatre is important,” Verch said. “It helps their favorite books come to life, it sparks their imagination and it creates a love of the arts.”

The Arts & Science Council (ASC) supports Matthews Playhouse and its mission through a Cultural & Community Investment grant.

“A grant from ASC,” Verch said, “helps us to do things just a little bit better than maybe we would have otherwise.”

ASC supports our entire community.  Its impact reaches all corners of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, and Matthews Playhouse’s multi-generational cultural experiences are further proof that everyone benefits.  ASC is you and me.

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Differences Dissolve Through the Arts

4 Apr

By Bernie Petit
Communications Manager

CPCC presents Dances of India at 4 p.m. April 26 on campus at Halton Theater.

CPCC presents Dances of India at 4 p.m. April 26 on campus at Halton Theater.

Barriers – racial, language or otherwise – are broken each spring on the Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) campus.

They are torn down by graceful movements during Dances of India performances that promote unity and celebrate diversity.

“We bring people together through performing arts to show that we are more alike than different,” said event organizer and acclaimed performer Dr. Maha Gingrich.

CPCC presents the 12th Anniversary of Dances of India at 4 p.m. April 26 on campus at Halton Theater. The event features traditional Indian classical and folk dances – rhythmic movements that tell the story of ancient India through costumes, dance dramas and music.

The event’s signature dance, “Unity in Diversity,” will be set to a live international orchestra and feature an array of international dances.

Dances of India.

Dances of India.

“Using performing art, there is no language barrier,” Gingrich said. “It opens people’s eyes and makes them think beyond racial barriers. You get rid of those barriers through performing arts.”

She organized the first Dances of India event in 2000 at CPCC. In addition to showcasing the beautiful diversity that exists in the Charlotte region, the performances highlight how traditional Indian dances have influenced dance forms across the world.

Indian dance has influenced tap and flamingo dancing, among others. And festival dances in India, Greece and Italy share commonalities, Gingrich said.

Through Dances of India, “I was able to bring in different dance forms and groups and tell the story of how India’s dance has influenced other cultures,” she said.

Support from the Arts & Science Council (ASC) has allowed performances to grow exponentially and expose broader audiences to CPCC, Gingrich said.

“When people support ASC,” she said, “they’re supporting a vision of Charlotte as not only an international city but a city that has a history, a city that supports science and takes pride in the art and artists that exist in our city and the region.”

“We bring people together through performing arts to show that we are more alike than different,” said event organizer and acclaimed performer Dr. Maha Gingrich.

“We bring people together through performing arts to show that we are more alike than different,” said event organizer and acclaimed performer Dr. Maha Gingrich.

Want to Go?

The 12th Anniversary of Dances of India takes place at 4 p.m. April 26 at Halton Theater on the campus of Central Piedmont Community College, 1206 Elizabeth Ave., Charlotte. Tickets are $10 adults and $5 school-age children. More information: http://www.charlottecultureguide.com/event/detail/441809877/Dances_of_India.

ASC President Robert Bush shares how culture influences the next generation

19 Mar

By Robert Bush
ASC President 

Robert Bush

Robert Bush

My parents thought I had lost my mind.  They made certain that I had every opportunity, including seeing me complete my M.A. in community education and securing a teaching position at a school for at-risk youth, so they couldn’t fathom how I could toss all of that work aside.  After four years of teaching language arts and outdoor skills (whitewater, back packing and rock climbing), I quit.

It wasn’t that I didn’t love teaching – I still do – but the opportunity to be the executive director of a local arts council was too much to resist.  After all, I was trading a traditional classroom of kids for a county full of people and a cultural classroom that contained museums and theatres, libraries and science centers, a symphony and chorales.  What I did not know is the extent to which my next 33 years would be filled with classroom moments of wonder, awe and inspiration as I watched children and youth encounter the arts, science and history in real ways.  That’s what I want to share in this letter – two stories of how chance encounters made faces light up and perhaps changed a life’s path.

I expect that like me, you believe arts in education is important.  Did you know 86% of Charlotte-Mecklenburg residents agree that arts, music, drama and dance education programs in schools are important in helping children do better in other academic subjects?

I could fill the rest of this letter with numbers that show the importance of making the arts core to the education of every child.  Some are very compelling.  For example, a student involved in the arts is:

  • Four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement;
  • Four times more likely to participate in a math or science fair; and
  • Three times more likely to win an award for school attendance.

Even better,

  • Low-income students who are highly engaged in the arts are more than twice as likely to graduate from college as their peers with no arts education;
  • 72% of business leaders say that creativity is the number one skill they are seeking when hiring; and
  • Students who take four years of art and music classes average almost 100 points better on their SAT scores than students that take only one-half a year or less.

But back to the stories…

I don’t remember his name, but I can see him sitting alone in the school multipurpose room – a nice looking young man of about 10 or 11, but his visual and physical impairments were obvious.

John, the artist-in-residence that I had brought with me to visit the school, was a Juilliard trained pianist, a charismatic performer who could charm any audience with his easy approach to making classical music approachable.  John sat down at the piano, the children got quiet and he began to play.  I believe it was a Chopin Étude, and immediately, the young man I spotted previously sat up in his chair, clearly responding to music.

At the end of the performance, the young man’s teacher brought him up to meet John.  She told us he had never spoken.  John spoke to him and asked if he liked the piano, the young man immediately nodded his head.  John asked him to sit on the piano bench next to him and began to play.  He played a musical phrase, stopped and without hesitation, the young man played the phrase back to him on the piano.  This went on for almost 30 minutes before it was time to go.

I learned a tremendous lesson that afternoon – the power of art to connect human beings and the power of musical language to transcend all language and communication barriers.

I experienced a similarly profound moment during my time at the Mint Museum.  A young African American woman was visiting the museum during her 7th grade field trip with other CMS students, and I happened to come upon the group in the European Art Gallery.

The young woman was examining every inch of the coronation portrait of Queen Charlotte by Sir Allan Ramsay.  She got close and looked, and then, she stepped back.  Her concentration was on her hair and her regal attire.  She shook her head and nodded knowingly as she took a final step back and announced to her classmates, “Don’t tell me she isn’t a sista.”

Allan Ramsay (Scottish, 1713-1784) Created: circa 1762 Materials: Oil on canvas Dimensions: 96 x 63 inches Not currently on display Gift from Frank Ryan Harty to Mint Museum

Allan Ramsay (Scottish, 1713-1784)
Created: circa 1762
Materials: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 96 x 63 inches
Not currently on display
Gift from Frank Ryan Harty to Mint Museum

The docent quickly told the students that, in fact, their fellow classmate was very perceptive, and Queen Charlotte’s lineage did, indeed, included Moors from the Portuguese royal family, and she quite possibly was biracial.

I learned, during that brief encounter with a school group, the power to see yourself in a work of art that might seem so foreign to your condition, and how that connection can positively influence your aspirations and goals.

When I left my formal classroom years ago, I didn’t fully understand how I would continue to experience the joy of teaching – not as the teacher, but as part of organizations that help make teaching moments tangible through arts and culture.  I’ve witnessed children enthralled by Opera Carolina’s performance of The Three Little Pigs; seen teenagers come face-to-face with the history of our city at the Levine Museum of the New South; watched pre-school classrooms light up with the mere presence of a storyteller; experienced sheer delight with middle school students during their first time working in a science lab at Discovery Place; and sat with proud parents as their sons and daughters performed in the Winterfield Elementary School Orchestra.

Those were just a few of the thousands of young faces I’ve seen touched by the power of the arts, science and history, and they’ve completely validated the moment I shocked my parents many years ago.  But even more important, I want everyone that has donated to ASC (or one of our cultural partners) to understand that you are a part of those young people’s experiences.  Your actions set up the table for wonder!

Help ASC keep those moments of wonder in motion by enabling even more arts, science and history experiences for the next generation.  By supporting their cultural growth and well-being, we ensure our community’s well-being.

ASC is You & Me – now and in the future.

Her job? Igniting wonder in the world around us

6 Mar

By Bernie Petit
Communications Manager 

Megan York has the greatest job in the world.

Or at least she likes to think so.

Megan L1006769As an informal educator at Discovery Place, “I get to dress up in costume and blow stuff up,” she said. “I mean, really? I won the job lottery. Not everybody would like it, but it’s exactly perfect for me.”

Her job combines her two passions – science and theater. York attended the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics her last two years of high school before earning a degree in physics at Bryn Mawr College in Philadelphia and teaching middle school science for six years in Cabarrus County.

She’s been involved in theater since she was 13 years old, recently appearing in the Citizens of the Universe local production of “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”

“I’ve just always been this way,” York said. “My report card from second grade would say things like ‘Megan loves reading aloud. She loves doing character voices for the kids and she loves our science lessons.’”

She’s still doing the same things, only now it’s not part of her permanent record. To accompany the “101 Inventions That Changed the World” exhibit at Discovery Place, York created the steampunk character Necessity, i.e. “the mother of invention,” as a way to interact with guests and enhance the exhibit experience.

As Necessity, York gets guests at the science center talking about deep-thinking questions, like “Is all change good?” and “Why are there no women on the list?” – the latter being a reason she created her character.

“Technically, there is no inventor of duct tape,” York said, “but the person you can most credit it to is a woman named Vesta Stoudt.”

Stoudt developed a method that allowed for tape to be torn rather than cut.

“So she’s not considered the inventor of duct tape,” she said, before whispering, “but we all know she is.”

One of the cultural sector contributors featured in 2014 Arts & Science Council Annual Fund Drive campaign materials, York joined Discovery Place fulltime in September 2013 after working in its summer camp program for two years. Discovery Place is one of more than 20 cultural organizations in Mecklenburg County that receives unrestricted operating support through ASC.

Discovery Place, she said, exists to ignite wonder. And being a part of that is the most important thing that she can do in the world.

“I want to surprise people and amaze people and the way that works for me – it’s the same motivation a magician would have or a singer would have,” she said. “I want to evoke in other people these feelings of awe and wonder and interest and fascination and joy because to me all those things are very joyful and I think that those are very important emotions for people to have.”

ASC is You & Me using science to help kids and adults better connect to the massive curiosity of the world we’re all born with.

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