Archive | Annual Fund Drive RSS feed for this section

Saturdays are for dancing

4 Mar

By Bernie Petit
Communications Manager 

Like most of us, Fraxedy Gomez looks forward to the weekend.

But not because she gets to sleep in.

Fraxedy Gomez.

Fraxedy Gomez.

Her Saturdays are spent in the dance studio, learning folkloric Latin dance – along with cultural and historic-related content – as a member of the Carolinas Latin Dance Company, supported in part by a $2,500 Arts & Science Council (ASC) Cultural & Community Investment Grant

“Dance has been pretty much my life since I was little,” said Gomez, who has danced with the company since she was 7 years old. “On Mondays I would go to school and I would be excited for dance and would tell myself ‘I’m going to dance on Saturday.’

“‘After Saturday practice, I would be like, ‘aww, I’m done with dance – go to school again and come back.’”

This year, she’s also teaching beginning dancers that are about the same age she was when she started 11 years ago.

“It’s been a new experience because usually I’m the one that’s getting taught,” said Gomez, an 18-year-old senior at Butler High School. “I like seeing how little girls are interested in dancing and hopefully they can do it for as long as I have.”

One of the cultural sector contributors featured in 2014 ASC Annual Fund Drive campaign materials, Gomez said she loves to dance the salsa.

“You get to put your own flair to it – more emotion, more style,” she said. “Salsa is just something you can express yourself in.”

She especially likes performing on stage and making people aware of the Latin American culture found in Charlotte (both of her parents are from Nicaragua). She also appreciates the structure dance provides her.

“It puts you in the right mindset for school and activities and it opens up more opportunities,” she said. “It keeps you busy instead of going off doing other things and not being responsible. It teaches you how to be responsible.”

ASC is You & Me giving everyone in our community something to cultural to do on the weekend – and every day of the week.

ASC_2013_logo

A world of possibilities easy to see behind a camera

3 Mar

By Bernie Petit
Communications Manager 

Dustyn Brigham never touched a camera until he arrived at Studio 345 – not in any meaningful way, at least.

Dustyn Brigham.

Dustyn Brigham.

But, as one of the dozens of students that enrolled in the Arts & Science Council (ASC) program’s inaugural trimester in the fall of 2012, Brigham’s world was opened by his experiences behind the camera.

“It’s given me a chance to explore different things,” he said. “Without that freedom to explore, I wouldn’t be able to understand certain things about myself and so this is really helping me find my path.”

Inspired by the nonprofit Manchester Bidwell Corporation in Pittsburgh, Studio 345 uses digital photography and multimedia arts to educate and inspire students to stay in school, graduate, and pursue goals beyond high school. The program is open to all high school students in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools and participants are taught and mentored by professional working artists.

A program fixture since the beginning, Brigham, a 17-year-old junior at Independence High School, naturally gravitated towards filmmaking.

“I felt like film would take me places,” he said. “There are lots of interesting people out there and I thought that I would meet them through film and I have.”

Like the girl and guy he thought were interesting looking from a distance in uptown Charlotte. He approached them with his camera and learned they were passing through town on a cross-country tour.

If he spots you, be ready to answer his favorite question to ask folks on camera: What are the three most valuable lessons you’ve learned throughout your life?

“One guy told me, ‘Say yes as much as possible, say no only when necessary and to just love, love unconditionally,’” Brigham said. “I just meet interesting people that have done the things I want to do one day.”

One of the featured cultural contributors in 2014 ASC Annual Fund Drive campaign materials, Brigham isn’t sure what career path he wants to travel when he is older.

But he knows what he is learning about film and about life at Studio 345 will help get him to where he needs to be.

“It’s like an avenue I took that will open up so many other avenues,” he said. “I just want to experience a lot of different things and I feel like film has given me and will continue to give me that opportunity.”

ASC is You & Me providing students with the freedom to find their way through the arts.

ASC_2013_logo

Children’s Theatre of Charlotte helps newcomer feel right at home

21 Feb

By Bernie Petit
Communications Manager 

When Elyssa Kim's family moved from Houston to Charlotte two years ago, she found a home at Children's Theatre of Charlotte.

When Elyssa Kim’s family moved from Houston to Charlotte two years ago, she found a home at Children’s Theatre of Charlotte.

Elyssa Kim was the new girl two years ago, when her family moved to Charlotte from Houston.

The Children’s Theatre of Charlotte quickly gave her a place where she could meet like-minded kids her own age in a new city.

“They have so many people and kids like me that have this common interest,” said Elyssa, a seventh grader at Charlotte Latin. “It helps you make friends with people, especially with you moving here.”

Elyssa first got involved in the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte two summers ago, playing an orphan in a summer production of “Annie.” She’s since played Christmas story narrator Maxine in “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” and mermaid princess Ariel in “A Little Mermaid.” (You may also recognize her from the Central Piedmont Community College production of “Les Miserables” back in November/December, where she played young Eponine.)

She’s acted for four years, dating back to her time in Houston. There wasn’t a particular show that drew her to the stage; rather, it was the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein. She loves to sing and being onstage gives her the opportunity to do that and put herself in someone else’s shoes for a while.

It’s what keeps her engaged in the art form.

“It’s always a new adventure for me,” she said. “I always enjoy the thrill of singing and acting and dancing. There’s something about it that makes it unique whenever I do a song or a show.”

Her mother, Florence Kim, said she couldn’t imagine her daughter’s life without theater.

“For a child who isn’t really into sports, the arts for her are essential to her growth as a person,” Florence said. “She’s gained self-confidence that she wouldn’t have otherwise – she can get up in front of 100 people without batting an eye.”

One of the featured cultural contributors in 2014 Arts & Science Council (ASC) Annual Fund Drive campaign materials, Elyssa feels more at home in Charlotte these days.

Children’s Theatre of Charlotte, one of the more than 20 Mecklenburg County cultural organizations that receive unrestricted operating support through ASC, is a big reason why.

“It definitely brings different people together of all different ages,” she said. “I’ve made some great friends through theater.”

ASC is You & Me offering newcomers to our region a warm welcome through the arts.

ASC_2013_logo

Nine-year-old finds his place in the world through music

20 Feb

By Bernie Petit
Communications Manager 

Sam Stevens takes violin lessons through the Community School of the Arts (CSA). Supporting CSA has become a family affair - his father, Scott Stevens, is the organization's board chair.

Sam Stevens takes violin lessons through the Community School of the Arts (CSA). Supporting CSA has become a family affair – his father, Scott Stevens, is the organization’s board chair.

If there’s a band playing, nine-year-old Sam Stephens wants to groove along.

“I think he feels music,” said his mom, Jenny Stephens. “There’s something in music he identifies with.”

It’s why he picked up the violin in a Community School of the Arts (CSA) summer camp when he was 5 years old and why he’s stuck with it ever since.

For the first year or so, Sam learned to play by ear; he’ll still take out his violin and play the notes when he hears a song that he likes.

“You just see his face light up and he’s proud of himself,” Jenny said.

But these days he plays more complex, longer pieces, which means he’s progressed to reading music and playing with a group. Learning to play the violin has helped his cognitive and emotional development, as well as taught him the value of teamwork, his mom said.

“To play by yourself is one thing,” Jenny said. “To be able to match your notes with other people in the room, it’s a great skill.”

Sam is one of the cultural sector contributors featured in 2014 Arts & Science Council (ASC) Annual Fund Drive campaign materials. In addition to going to music camp every summer, he also receives regular instruction from a teacher who performs with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra through CSA, which is one of the more than 20 cultural organizations in Mecklenburg County that receives unrestricted operating support from ASC.

As a member of the CSA family, Sam has also been exposed to the bigger world around him, participating in outreach performances at local hospitals and homeless shelters, said Jenny.

“It’s a way for kids to understand how they can give back to people by having this skill,” Jenny said. “Being out in the community and seeing how his music can impact other people is a great thing.”

ASC is You & Me helping kids find their joy in music, and there aren’t many things better than that.

ASC_2013_logo

Want to know what it really means to be a life-long learner? Try ceramics

20 Feb

By Bernie Petit
Communications Manager 

Bob Culbertson is a longtime cultural supporter - he chaired an ASC Annual Fund Drive campaign in the early 1980s.  "The level of your art is a good indication of the level of culture, the level of sophistication in your society," he said. "The quality of your civilization is directly related to the quality of your art."

Bob Culbertson is a longtime cultural supporter – he chaired an ASC Annual Fund Drive campaign in the early 1980s.
“The level of your art is a good indication of the level of culture, the level of sophistication in your society,” he said. “The quality of your civilization is directly related to the quality of your art.”

Bob Culbertson wanted to do something besides work. So he went down to Spirit Square and took a beginner pottery class.

That was 20 years ago. And Culbertson, now almost 82, is still learning.

“What I know is about a BB in a box car,” he said. “There’s no end to what you can learn when you get into ceramics. You can spend a lifetime and still feel like you’ve learned so little.

“If you want to pursue an art form where there’s no end to learning, pursue ceramics.”

An occasional substitute instructor at Clayworks – one of the more than 20 cultural organizations in Mecklenburg County that receives unrestricted operating support from the Arts & Science Council (ASC) – Culbertson believes it’s good for pottery students to be exposed to different ways of doing things.

It’s a belief he practices, too.

“I like to go see potters throw,” he said. “I don’t care how long they’ve done it – I’ll pick up something from it.”

Still, ceramics come naturally to Culbertson, one of the cultural sector contributors featured in 2014 ASC Annual Fund Drive campaign materials. He’s always enjoyed working with his hands. He grew up making model airplanes as a kid and took courses in printmaking and woodworking as an adult.

But he fell in love with pottery and eventually transformed a little-used garage into a personal studio.

“I love the tactical part of it,” he said. “Pottery is something I’ve gotten good enough at where I can make a lot on the wheel – I do plates, I’ve done dishes, all that kinds of stuff.”

Sometimes, he said, people will ask him how often he throws.

“That’s not a good question,” he said. “Suddenly I just get the urge… if I go somewhere it’s been made – let’s say I go to the Mint Museum – seeing it makes me want to start doing it.”

ASC is You & Me encouraging everyone to pursue their artistic dreams no matter where they are in life’s journey.

ASC_2013_logo

How the violin helped a bird curator find the music in nature

20 Feb

By Bernie Petit
Communications Manager 

The earth has music for those who listen.

Amber Rosintoski of the Carolina Raptor Center is pictured with Skoshi, a 26-year-old red-tailed hawk that came to the center blind in one eye, meaning it could not find food in the wild.

Amber Rosintoski of the Carolina Raptor Center is pictured with Skoshi, a 26-year-old red-tailed hawk that came to the center blind in one eye because of a genetic defect, meaning it could not find food in the wild.

Shakespeare knew it and so does Amber Rosintoski, who oversees nearly 100 birds of prey as the curator of the Carolina Raptor Center collection.

Before she fell in love with birds, Rosintoski grew up playing the violin in Mount Pleasant, S.C. She picked up the instrument in elementary school and would stay inside during recess to practice.

“I got to play a simple song and I thought it was so wonderful,” she said.

Music eventually led her to her local school of the arts (“I don’t think I was the kind of kid that would have survived in the real high school setting,” she said) and to the College of Charleston, where she played in the orchestra and majored in biology.

And while it might sound odd, a part-time job she took at the South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston during her college years inspired her to pursue a more bird-oriented career. That’s because, in addition to the expected underwater creatures, the aquarium also featured several birds and Rosintoski enjoyed working with them.

“I felt passionate about birds,” she said. “They’re gorgeous, wonderful and they can fly.”

One of the cultural sector contributors featured in 2014 Arts & Science Council Annual Fund Drive campaign materials, Rosintoski joined the Carolina Raptor Center in 2007. The Raptor Center is one of more than 20 cultural organizations in Mecklenburg County that receives unrestricted operating support through ASC.

An avid bird watcher, Rosintoski is able to make a clear connection between the winged creatures she observes and the musical background that gave her the confidence to pursue her dreams.

“The reason I love birds is directly tied to my passion for music,” she said. “You don’t always see the birds – a lot of it is listening. Their music is absolutely stunning, especially during breeding season when you have these songbirds singing beautiful music.”

ASC is You & Me finding – and appreciating – the music in nature.

ASC_2013_logo

Lessons learned from a Charlotte Museum of History re-enactor

20 Feb

By Bernie Petit
Communications Manager

Lisa Jilliani of the Charlotte Museum of History is pictured in period-correct 18th century clothing she made herself with a working replica of a Pennsylvania long rifle typical of the mid-1700s. “Women could shoot as well as men because there might be a time where they would have to be the ones to bring home the bacon – or a squirrel or a deer,” she said.

Lisa Jilliani of the Charlotte Museum of History is pictured in period-correct 18th century clothing she made herself with a working replica of a Pennsylvania long rifle typical of the mid-1700s.
“Women could shoot as well as men because there might be a time where they would have to be the ones to bring home the bacon – or a squirrel or a deer,” she said.

Lisa Jillani went from writing about historical re-enactors for the local newspaper to dressing up in 18th century garb herself.

“I had always been a history buff ever since I can remember, even as a young child,” Jillani said. “Because my grandparents raised me, I was privileged to be exposed to people who were a lot older than I was and lived during the time the history books were written about.”

So when a press release about a nearby backcountry Thanksgiving reenactment came across her desk at The Mecklenburg Times back in 1987, she covered the story in period-appropriate attire.

From that moment, she was hooked.

“I was bitten by the reenacting bug,” she said. “It had never dawned on me before that there were people that did it as a hobby.”

It became more than that in 2001, when she became a docent at the Charlotte Museum of History. She’s currently the museum’s living history coordinator and event planner, and is “very possessive” of the log kitchen out at the historic Hezekiah Alexander House on the grounds of the museum, supported by a $50,000 Arts & Science Council (ASC) Technical Assistance Grant.

“Children ask me if I live there, which tells me that my costume is right, that I don’t look like I’m going trick-or-treating, but I look like somebody who lived in that cabin,” she said. “One little girl asked me if I could travel back in time.”

Jilliani is one of the cultural sector contributors featured in 2014 ASC Annual Fund Drive campaign materials. Her authentic look comes from her own hands – she sews all of her reenactment clothes. Her daily meals are “99.999-percent” made from scratch, too.

“The thing that reenacting has taught me is, if I need something, I first say, ‘Can I make it myself?’” she said. “If the answer is ‘Yes,’ then I make it. If the answer is ‘No,’ the question is ‘Can I get it from a thrift store?’ I rarely say ‘I need such and such’ and go buy it new.”

ASC is You & Me celebrating our history and bringing it alive for new generations.

ASC_2013_logo

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 64 other followers