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.

Public art to unify new CMPD station with the community it serves

29 May

By Bernie Petit
Communications Manager

Image

Durham-based glass artist Vivienne McConnell in front of the exterior public artwork installed in April at the soon-to-open CMPD Eastway Station on Central Avenue in Charlotte.

Charlotte’s newest public art piece will help connect a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department station with the community it protects and serves.

The artwork, created by Durham-based glass artist Vivienne McConnell and installed in April, will link neighborhoods along Central Avenue in East Charlotte to the brand new CMPD Eastway Station.

Funding for the $30,600 work comes from the one-percent ordinance for public art. ASC manages the public art programs for the city and the county.

McConnell’s exterior art wall utilizes interlinking circular shapes and rectilinear lines to convey the theme of how police departments and neighborhoods cooperate in creating a safe place.

The interior stained art glass above the doors in the main entrance is named “Unity.”

“It’s built around the idea of unity – the unity of the police department and the community,” McConnell said. “It really did seem to me that there was a lot of camaraderie and unity in the community.”

The center panel of the exterior piece contains a similar motif to the indoor glass. On either side is cooperation, an abstracted idea of two people joined by their arms.

“It’s a different take on ‘Unity,’ with the circles interlocking,” she said. “I thought it was something that would work for the community and the police department as well.”

As the day progresses, the glass panels change according to the movement of the sun and what is around them.

“In this particular installation we have a lot of sky at certain places of the room and there are trees in certain places of the room,” she said. “If you have something like trees behind the glass, it helps you perceive the movement in the glass.”

A self-described color person, McConnell said she used a more sedate and formal color palate for the glass panels to better match the building. She also used a “little bit of gold to give it some excitement.”

“I hope that the people who own this artwork, and that would be the city, and the people who work in this building will enjoy it,” she said. “I hope it brightens their day and it helps attitudes.”

Digital & Media Literacy Camp Combines Learning and Creativity

29 May

By David Fowler
Communications Intern

Image

Arts & Science Council (ASC) Digital & Media Literacy Camp Director Crystal Lail has always worked in education.

A veteran of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School system, Lail knows firsthand the importance of creativity in education. As camp director, Lail sees creativity as an opportunity to make learning enjoyable and engaging for every student.

Often times, education and creativity are wrongly separated. Sometimes creativity gets swept under the rug of education, overpowered by state-set curriculums and standardized testing. Lail believes that the ASC Digital & Media Literacy Camp bridges that gap. The freedom to be creative and think abstractly gives students a sense of ownership and pride in what they are doing, or learning.

“We really get to work outside the box,” Lail said. “We are not limited by a set curriculum, which allows us to engage students differently based on what they want to do.”

The camp is broken up into three two-week sessions, each with a different focus. Registration is open to all students in rising 1st-12th grade. Campers can sign up for individual sessions, or for all three.

Students will learn use digital cameras and other devices to create digital stories, music, and art. Through field experience, specialized instruction, as well as field trips and service projects in the community each session is designed to provide opportunity to be creative.

“All of our teachers are certified specialists in their field,” Lail said “We also have specialist come in to support us.”

This specialized instruction and exposure to experts in the field provides the best possible experience for students.

“We offer something no one else in Charlotte offers with the amount of opportunities the kids have to not only learn, but be creative and express themselves,” said Lail. “It is also a great chance for them to get exposed to diversity, as students from all over the community will learn and work together.”

Give your child a creatively empowering and educationally engaging experience this summer. Click here to register or learn more. If you have any questions, email camp director Crystal Lail at crystal.lail@artsandscience.org.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 61 other followers