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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.”


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

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.

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

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

5 Jun

Compiled by David Fowler
Communication Intern


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 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 – 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 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

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 – – 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.

Music Box Lunch Series in the Park

29 May

By Bernie Petit
Communications Manager

The Arts & Science Council (ASC) is partnering with Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation to offer the Music Box Lunch Series in the Park. The series will feature live music from noon to 1:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays through October at Romare Bearden Park.

Upcoming performances include:

  • May 30: Roy Daye
  • June 3: Tom Billotto
  • June 6: John Alexander
  • June 10: Caution! Blind Driver
  • June 13: John Franklin
  • June 17: Jeff Brown
  • June 20: Dave Haywood
  • June 24: Alan Barrington
  • June 27: Colby Dobbs

The series is a great way to enjoy the summer weather and some cool tunes during your lunch hour!

Public Art Walking Tour a Great Way to Experience the City

28 May

By David Fowler
Communication Intern


Charlotte is a city that is rich in history, unique culture, civic pride, and diverse communities. There is no better way to experience this than the Public Art Walking Tour. To get started, simply download the self-guided walking tour podcast and map at; go to the Programs & Services tab, choose Public Art and scroll over and down to Public Art Walking Tour. Each location on the map has one or more works of public art spread out across the city. Starting at the Carillon Building at the corner of Trade and 4th streets, you are free to take the tour at your own pace as you discover Charlotte in a whole new way.

Public art is a representation of not only the city and its history, but also its people and communities. It reminds us where we come from and livens up our city spaces. From sculptures and paintings to fountains and benches, Charlotte is fortunate to enjoy a vibrant, and still growing, collection of public art that tells its story. Raymond Kaskey’s Sculptures on the Square (1994) at the corner of Trade and Tryon is one of the most recognizable pieces of public art in Charlotte. This piece depicts the past, present, and future of the city represented by four sculpted pillars: Commerce, Industry, Transportation, and Future. Larry Kirkland’s The Writer’s Desk (2005) is a sculpture that pays homage to the city’s newspaper, The Charlotte Observer, and its former publisher Rolfe Niell, whose quotes adorn the piece. These sculptures are perfect examples of the cultural and historical relationship between the pieces and the city.

The Arts & Science Council recognizes the potential of art to create livable cities, enhance neighborhoods, educate people, and increase community pride among citizens. Thanks to Mecklenburg County ordinances that allot one percent of eligible project funds to public art, public works of cultural significance will continue to be a staple in the Charlotte area.

Whether you are new to the city, or have lived in the area long enough to call yourself a native, the walking tour of Uptown Charlotte will change the way you think about the city, particularly from a cultural standpoint.

10 @ two recap – Random Acts of Science?

19 May

Compiled by Bernie Petit
Communications Manager


ASC President Robert Bush.

So what’s this about Random Acts of Science?

Arts & Science Council (ASC) President Robert Bush dropped a tidbit about this future programming in our recent 10 @ two Facebook Q&A series.

In the occasional series, ASC social media followers have asked Bush their questions about our cultural sector. Last week, Bush received questions about the Cultural Life Task Force, STEAM education and Random Acts of Culture, among other queries.

The next 10 @ two question-and-answer segment is scheduled for 2 p.m. Wednesday, June 4. ASC will make the initial post on its Facebook page and the first 10 cultural sector-related questions (one per person) received in the comments section of that post will be answered by Bush. The final 10 @ two date is June 25 (dates are subject to change).

Here is a recap of the questions and answers from the May 16 10 @ two session. All questions were answered by Robert Bush.

Q: Thanks for taking our questions! As an organization, in addition to the regional artist grant, how will you engage and support individual artists of the city, especially emerging ones? What part can the ASC serve in helping young artists establish themselves in the Charlotte market?

A: Thanks for the question Amy. Your question is very similar to one I had last week. Over the past several years, ASC has worked very hard to increase the services and support we have for individual artists. Now, beyond the Regional Artist Project Grant program that has been around since the 1980s, we have an series of workshops on topics specifically addressing issues that are of interest to individual artists (in fact last Saturday, ASC is hosted its first Spanish language workshop for artists in partnership with Creative Capital and supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; the McColl Award, made every 3 years to support the creation of a new work is now open to individual artists and in fact our last recipient was John W. Love Jr. ; this year alone our new Community Supported Art program and ArtPop! Program are providing individual artists new opportunities to introduce their work. A strong community of individual artists is critical to the success of this cultural community and ASC is here to provide assistance not just to groups but to individual artists as well. Make sure you have signed up for our monthly e-newsletter WorkshOpportunities which provide information on workshops and training opportunities as well as funding opportunities.

Q: I’m from studio 345, and was wanting to know will studio 345 offer a program for early grads in the future?

A: Our hopes for Studio 345 is that it continues to grow and expand to meet the needs of young people not only in high school but as they move to new opportunities in higher education. We are also looking at opportunities for recent graduates to come back and work for Studio 345 during the summer as well as providing internships with designers, filmmakers, recording studios, etc. to help build resumes. Perhaps we should talk to Barbara Ann about how early grads could become mentors in the teaching artist faculty.

Q: Hi Robert. As a science organization we’ve heard a lot about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education. We’re now hearing about STEAM — add Arts to the mix. What is the plan for ASC to support more STEAM initiatives in our community?

A: STEM and STEAM programs are already part of our efforts to support pre-K-12 education across the County. Our Education Provider Directory contains a number of exceptional programs – like those of the Raptor Center – that can bring STEM/STEAM curriculum to life in the classroom or through field trips. We hope to have the resources in the future to add the unique story of the Raptor Center’s work on environmental issues from very close to home – the Catawba River – as a required grade level field trip. But until then, we have to make sure that our school partners know what is available to them NOW so Dudley the Owl spends a lot of his time in schools! BTW – the Arts got added to STEM because the arts are critical to the creation of new thinking and ideas – and the arts and sciences have always been connected – remember the College of Arts & Sciences at colleges and universities across this country and some of our greatest scientists were also very involved in the arts – you know Einstein played a mean violin.

Q: Hi Robert. I heard the story on WFAE about the Cultural Life Task Force, which is preparing to release its final recommendations on funding of the local cultural sector. The co-chair said it has taken longer than expected because of the complexity of issues. What were the biggest challenges the task force had to grapple with?

A: The best language I’ve heard to explain the complexity issues is that “we thought we were looking at how to fix the “FORD/GM” dealership but what we were asked to do is fix the automotive industry – 2 very different tasks. There are over 200 arts, science and history non-profits in Mecklenburg County and each discipline or type of group has a different operating platform. The Task Force focused on the 24 largest groups but even there each organization had different operating efforts. So, it took a long time to understand these differences as well as understand the commonalities that might be address by joint efforts. I think that the Task Force has figured it out and have offered some bold ideas for future.

Q: Hi Robert! How have “Random Acts of Culture” been received? Do you see that program continuing or expanding?

A: How do we love Random Acts of Culture?…Let me count the ways! The public and the cultural community have embraced these efforts across Mecklenburg County from farmer’s markets to the airport and other public spaces. We were very lucky to have the support of the Knight Foundation to kick these off and again to support the Library Acts of Culture which were also very well received. We hope to continue to have funds available in our budget to produce more RACs but keep them spontaneous and unexpected. You never know when you’ll see them at IKEA (like last Saturday’s HAIR cast performances) but look for a number of them coming to Bearden Park in the future including our first Random Act of Science!

Q: As a visionary please tell us about the future of the Arts in Charlotte and do you think it could ever become possible for Charlotte to be an “Art” destination?

A: Thanks Wan. We’ll I don’t know if I am a visionary but I do have opinions….I think that the future of the arts in Charlotte is very bright and that we are already becoming an arts destination. In fact over 40% of our audience comes from outside Mecklenburg. We just had the 2013 data of ticket buyers and donors to our local cultural groups mapped and let me tell – people are coming to Charlotte from all over the US for our cultural product – the blue dots cover most of the eastern seaboard and who knew that we have a big following in Memphis and even from San Francisco. But all this requires continued efforts to provide the highest quality of programming and innovative work. Something for all us to work on.

Q: Hi Robert! What are your ideas for ways ASC and individual organizations can help raise awareness of the impact the cultural sector has on Charlotte and the region?

A: We need to make sure that we are all singing from the same book – we have great data, we don’t always share it like we should and ASC is making a focus moving into the new year (our year begins July 1st) of sharing more data and making sure our friends have the data to share as well. We all need to memorize the economic impact results – over $200 Million annual economic impact, supports over 6,200 FTEs (same size work force as Duke Energy locally) add in the for profit creative workers and it is over 14,000 (about the same as the Bank of America workforce locally)…but more importantly we have to tell the stories of how the great work all of the cultural groups here do in changing people’s, helping them see themselves through the eyes of others and the joy our programs bring.

Q: Hi Robert Bush, my Elizabeth neighborhood is the, very excited, recipient of one of the Neighborhoods in Creative pARTnership public art projects. The site selection is required to be property of the City or maintained by the City. My question, is there future possibilities to broaden the site choices by including the County?

A: We are very excited about the potential of the Neighborhoods in Creative pARTnership program and hope to continue to have funds to invest in this grassroots type of effort. The funding for this initial effort came from pooled public art funds for City Projects. We would be excited to see this expand to County locations but we are already working in neighborhoods across the County, especially in park facilities – each public art project requires community engagement and hopefully we will learn more about improving our efforts to engage citizens in every project. ASC Public Art staff works closely with County staff so it is possible that the County could become a partner in some of these great neighborhood efforts.


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

14 May

Compiled by Bernie Petit
Communications Manager


“Angels in America,” arts education and Arts & Science Council (ASC) support of individual artists were some of the topics ASC President Robert Bush addressed last week in the our 10 @ two Facebook series.

In the series, ASC social media followers can ask Bush their questions about the Charlotte-Mecklenburg cultural sector, from what will be the next public art piece built in our community to what our cultural sector is missing and everything in between.

The next 10 @ two question-and-answer segment is scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday, May 16. ASC will make the initial post and the first 10 cultural sector-related questions (one per person) received will be answered by Bush. Other scheduled dates are June 4 and June 25 (dates are subject to change).

Here’s a review of the questions and answers from the May 9 10 @ two session. All questions were answered by Robert Bush.

Q: Hi Robert! With CAST’s current production of “Angels in America” being welcomed and heralded by local leaders, can we finally put that chapter of Charlotte’s history to rest? Or is there something to be gained by reflecting on how far we’ve come? (PS: tickets on sale now, runs through the end of the month!!)

A: I would hope so. However, it is an important chapter in the history of this community and I hope that we never forget the lessons we learned from that experience. We have come a long way but art will continue to challenge us, as it is supposed to do, in the future. It isn’t just about pretty pictures often it teaches us something about ourselves that we don’t want to confront. That is the lesson of Angels…

Q: I wanted to know how much of the funds of the ASC Grant for the schools is spend on performances/residencies/workshops. Is there any plans to give the schools incentives to use some of the funds in the classrooms doing residencies and workshops (not only for performances or field trips)?

A: Without having a lot of numbers pulled, it is hard to tell you exactly how much is used for performance, residencies or workshops. However, this year ASC has invested $568,000 public, charter and independent schools across Mecklenburg via grants to in-school programs and support of required field trips (we even pay for the yellow school buses). In-school programs come from our pre-screened and curriculum based artist provider directory and includes not just performance, but workshops and residencies. However, individual schools choose what program best meet there needs. That is why it is important that the providers in our directory participate in our annual Marketplace to showcase the programs and offerings to teachers, administrators, and parents.

Q: Can we get an update on the fundraising campaign?

A: We do our fund drive tally on Friday’s. As of last Friday, May 2nd, we were at $5.25 million or 77.2% of goal. However, we have had a number of important, and large, commitments come in this week and are very encouraged but won’t have a new total until early next week.

Q: We hear a lot about arts organizations and groups in the QC. What would you like individual artists to know about Arts & Science Council?

A: Over the past several years, ASC has worked very hard to increase the services and support we have for individual artists. Now, beyond the Regional Artist Project Grant program that has been around since the 1980s, we have an series of workshops on topics specifically addressing issues that are of interest to individual artists (in fact tomorrow, ASC is hosting its first Spanish language workshop for artists in partnership with Creative Capital and supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; the McColl Award, made every 3 years to support the creation of a new work is now open to individual artists and in fact our last recipient was John W. Love Jr. ; this year alone our new Community Supported Art program and ArtPop! (p)rogram(s) are providing individual artists new opportunities to introduce their work. A strong community of individual artists is critical to the success of this cultural community and ASC is here to provide assistance not just to groups but to individual artists as well. Make sure you have signed up for our monthly e-newsletter (workshop opportunities) which provide information on workshops and training opportunities as well as funding opportunities.


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