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From cultural sector recipient to supporter: a donor shares why she gives to ASC

1 Mar

By Bernie Petit
Communications Manager

ASC donor Lindsay Wright at Discovery Place. As a child attending summer camp at the science center, Wright and her camp mates would line up along the tile hand prints before starting their day.

ASC donor Lindsay Wright at Discovery Place. As a child attending summer camp at the science center, Wright and her camp mates would line up along the tile hand prints before starting their day.

Lindsay Wright didn’t know the field trips she went on as a public school student in Charlotte-Mecklenburg were supported by the Arts & Science Council.

She connected the dots as an adult. It’s why she gives to ASC.

“I’ve reaped the benefits of the Arts & Science Council and I want to make sure that others get that benefit as well,” Wright said. “One of the ways to do that is to give.”

Wright said she is a direct recipient of the projects, programs and organizations that ASC supports. Besides cultural field trips, she received scholarships to attend summer camps at Discovery Place and Mint Museum.

She remembers learning to draw at Mint Museum Randolph’s camp. And, after participating in camp at Discovery Place, she started volunteering there and at the science center’s sister organization, the Charlotte Nature Museum.

“I have run the space shuttle mission when they used to have it, I have run the IMAX and I have taken care of the aquatic animals at Discovery Place and I have taken care of the butterflies at the nature museum,” she said. “I mean, these are my memories as a child.”

Those experiences not only gave her something productive to do during her formative years, but they motivated her to continue learning about and taking interest in topics that maybe she wouldn’t have thought about otherwise.

“That led me to college, it led me to living abroad, it led me to exploring even beyond all of that – the reach of the world, really – and I think that that background is what made me do that,” she said.

Now settled in Charlotte, Wright continues to be involved in the cultural sector.

She’s been a shareholder in ASC’s Community Supported Art program, which connects local artists to local supporters. She volunteers her time in the sector and is a member of ASC’s Young Donor Society, a group of donors ages 40 and under that give generously to support the cultural sector broadly.

Nights out with friends revolve around museums, gallery openings or the latest local theater production.

She’s seen firsthand how the cultural sector has not only impacted her life, but how it’s helped the city and the region transform and attract newcomers.

“Growing up, nobody came uptown. We were not on the top of anybody’s list,” she said. “That’s totally changed now. A lot of that has to do with what the cultural sector has done to make the city vibrant, make it a place where people want to go and to give them something to do uptown besides working nine to five and then going home.”

The sector consists of so many great artists, organizations, educational opportunities and festivals that it’s impossible to support them all individually, Wright said.

“I like ASC because it touches all of those areas,” She said. “There’s no other place where your giving can have as much of an impact.”

You can make a gift to ASC at the following link:

Show Your Support for ASC on Social Media

ASC asks the community to participate in the upcoming ASC is You & Me week, which is March 9-13. The purpose of the week is to raise awareness about the ASC Annual Fund Drive, show how dollars from the campaign impact cultural organizations and individual artists, and highlight how the cultural sector in enriches the quality of life for Charlotte-Mecklenburg residents and visitors.

To participate, be sure to like ASC on Facebook ( and follow @ASCCharlotte on Twitter. You can also show your support on Facebook by changing your cover photo to one of the ASC is You & Me-themed cover photos that will be posted on ASC’s page by March 6. To join in the conversation, use the hashtag #ASCYouandMe (it can be used on both Facebook and Twitter).

Public Art History: The Uptown Arena

1 Mar

By Bernie Petit
Communications Manager

“Tulip,” “Double Leaf” and “Fallow Gear” by Paul Sires. Photo by Mitchell Kearney Photography,

“Tulip,” “Double Leaf” and “Fallow Gear” by Paul Sires. Photo by Mitchell Kearney Photography,

If you’re from the Carolinas or you’ve lived here awhile, you know this region loves its basketball.

But folks here love their public art, too, and basketball fans attending games at Time Warner Cable Arena can appreciate both.

Ten years ago, several public artworks representative of Charlotte’s past and its love of the game were created in conjunction with the construction of the uptown arena.

The Arts & Science Council, the public art agent for the city and the county, oversaw the process for the arena public artwork. So, with March Madness right around the corner, we decided to take a look back at the public art found at the uptown arena.

There are prominent pieces created by homegrown artists. Charlotte artist Paul Sires constructed “Tulip,” “Double Leaf” and “Fallow Gear,” the carved granite benches found along the arena plaza between Trade and Fifth streets.

The simple but large shapes of the benches can be read by patrons on the balcony of the arena and those in surrounding buildings with a view of the plaza. The broken gear represents a bygone era when textile machinery was central to Charlotte’s economic success. The flower and the leaf represent teamwork, as one is dependent upon the other.

Another Queen City artist – Tommie Robinson – created “Commerce” and “Transportation,” murals found inside TWC Arena that reflect Charlotte’s commerce from the past and the evolution of public transportation.

"Trajectory" by Thomas Sayre. Photo by Mitchell Kearney Photography.

“Trajectory” by Thomas Sayre. Photo by Mitchell Kearney Photography.

Even more public artwork adorns the interior of the home of the professional basketball team the Charlotte Hornets. Look down and you’ll find “Trajectory,” the terrazzo floor in the arena’s lobby by North Carolina artist Thomas Sayre.

The concept for the terrazzo floor is loosely based on the physics of a bouncing ball. A series of colorful linear designs illustrate the rolling basketball, soccer and tennis balls. Each terrazzo path is a different color and sparkles as one moves through the space.

Overhead is a series of suspended light ball sculptures of different shapes also based upon the physics of a bouncing ball.

Also in the lobby is “The History of Basketball in the Piedmont” and “The Action Wall,” photographic porcelain tile murals by Mike Mandel that recognize the many layers of culture that comprise Charlotte’s basketball history.

"The History of Basketball" by Mike Mandel.

“The History of Basketball” by Mike Mandel.

“The History of Basketball” at the Trade Street entry includes image of a player from the 1950s textile Hanes Hosiery league and contemporary athletes from Davidson and Johnson C. Smith. The background includes imagery from the 1926 Charlotte Central High School girls’ team, 1934 Livingstone College players and 1936 Cannon YMCA basketball. “The Action Wall” at the Fifth Street entry features a University of North Carolina at Charlotte player and fans.

Back outdoors, you’ll find nationally recognized public artist Andrew Leicester’s handiwork along Caldwell, Fifth and Trade streets. After learning that Charlotte was once nicknamed the “Manchester” of the New South because of its textile prowess, Leicester used forms from the textile industry in the Carolina Piedmont to create a visual language for the plaza.

His ceramic sculptures encircle the arena, their forms based on the creation and use of textiles throughout the ages. His brick textile-design wall separating the light rail from the arena was inspired by a pattern book from the Stuart Cramer Mill.

"Flying Shuttles" by Andrew Leicester.

“Flying Shuttles” by Andrew Leicester.

Perhaps his most noticeable contributions are his “Flying Shuttles.” The 50-foot freestanding columns along the Trade Street plaza are based on the theme of a giant cotton bobbin loaded with yarn.

They also help make Charlotte’s public art arena a place where fans can celebrate hoops and history.

West Meck students to take the Duke Energy stage this weekend

5 Feb

Compiled by Bernie Petit
Communications Manager

A theatrical production can offer a safe space for students to express their passion, West Mecklenburg High School English teacher Eboné Lockett told The Charlotte Observer.

This weekend, several of her students will take the stage at Duke Energy Theater at Spirit Square for a performance of The Children of Children Keep Coming: An Epic Groitsong.”

childrne of somethingThe play is based on a book by Russell Goings about African-American history, from the days of slavery up through the present. Goings was a close friend of Charlotte-born artist Romare Bearden.

The first act “will include dramatic and musical portrayals of Harriet Tubman, Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Billie Holliday, Rosa Parks and others.”

“The spirit of those giants will drive the second act as the students tell their own stories through poems and songs,” Lockett told the Observer. “The second act is their voice.”

In addition to directing this play, Lockett is her school’s Arts & Science Council (ASC) School Grants Program representative. The ASC School Grants Program will provide up to $280,000 in total funding in 2014-15 for Mecklenburg County public, charter, independent, parochial and private schools to support cultural programming that aligns with their curriculum and helps increase student success.

That’s not the production’s only tie to ASC. Justin Nichols, one of the students in the play, is also a participant in ASC’s Studio 345, an out-of-school time youth development program for high school students. Oneaka Mack, who is providing dance choreography for the production, was a 2014 ASC Regional Artist Project Grant recipient.

Several of the students also took part in Quentin Talley’s poetry workshop at the University City Regional Library on ASC’s Connect with Culture Day.

Performances take place at 7 p.m. Feb. 6 and 7. Tickets are $6 to $8 and are available at

Cuddle up with culture this Valentine’s Day

5 Feb

By Bernie Petit
Communications Manager


The Charlotte Symphony presents A Symphonic Valentine Feb. 13-14.

Romance is all around us this time of year.

With Valentine’s Day rapidly approaching, boxes of chocolates and roses will a backseat in upcoming cultural events that will have folks in the mood for love.

From plenty of heart-themed events at the Levine Center for the Arts campus to the spectacular new production of an Andrew Lloyd Webber phenomenal musical success, the holiday is being celebrated early and often throughout the Charlotte-Mecklenburg cultural sector.

Here a rundown of Valentine’s events from our cultural partners:

Jazz at the Bechtler: Jazz for Lovers
Feb 6.
Bechtler Museum of Modern Art at Levine Center for the Arts, 420 S. Tryon St., Charlotte.
What’s Happening: Powerhouse vocalist Toni Tupponce joins the Ziad Jazz Quartet for the annual Jazz for Lovers concerts. Bring your sweetie and celebrate an early Valentine’s Day with jazzy love songs. Song selections include You Don’t Know What Love Is, Just Friends and Please Send Me Someone to Love.
Cost: $8 for museum members and $14 for non-members.

KnightSounds: A Waltz to Remember
Feb. 6.
Where: Knight Theater at Levine Center for the Arts, 430 S. Tryon St., Charlotte.
What’s Happening: Get swept off your feet by the Viennese Waltz King, Strauss Jr., the Charlotte Symphony and glamorous Metropolitan Ballroom dancers. Don’t miss Assistant Conductor Roger Kalia’s debut on the Symphony’s innovative KnightSounds series. The concert will feature the talents of soprano Katherine Polit.
Cost: $15.50-$29.

A Symphonic Valentine
Feb 13-14.
Where: Knight Theater at Levine Center for the Arts, 430 S. Tryon St., Charlotte.
What’s Happening: Roger Kalia and the Charlotte Symphony will take you on a romantic journey Valentines weekend. The Symphony, joined by special guests, will perform romantic orchestral favorites and timeless love songs from your favorite Broadway musicals and films.
Cost: $25 and up.

family_day_low-res_20141108_03_categoryFamily Day
Feb. 14.
Where: Bechtler Museum of Modern Art at Levine Center for the Arts, 420 S. Tryon St., Charlotte.
What’s Happening: Celebrate Valentine’s Day the modern art way. Kids and families can explore the art and artists in the Bechtler collection through special hands-on art activities and family-focused museum tours. Kids can make self-portraits, handmade Valentine’s Day cards and still-life sketches.
Cost: Free admission for kids, $8 adults; adults receive a $2 discount by showing a Feb. 14 Lollipops concert ticket stub or the Family Day handout provided to concertgoers that day.

love_bites_categoryLove Bites
Feb. 13-14.
Where: Duke Energy Theatre, 345 N. College St., Charlotte.
What’s Happening: Love is in the air as Carolina Voices plays Cupid with a concert celebrating all the romance (and angst) of Valentine’s Day. Join Carolina Voices’ a cappella ensemble, Impromptu and friends, as it brings you a mixed bouquet of love songs — from miss-you ballads, bittersweet anthems and break up tunes to classical love songs of our time. It’s the perfect date night, with a “bite” of sweets and treats before the concert.
Cost: $18 seniors, $20 adults and $23 cabaret tables, upstairs.

Valentine’s Orchid Sale
Feb. 12-14.
Where: Botanical Gardens at UNC Charlotte, 9090 Craver Rd.
What’s Happening: The annual UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens Valentine’s Orchid Sale. Orchids are truly fascinating flowers and last longer than roses too. Stroll through the McMillan Greenhouse to soak in the warmth and fragrance of the gardens’ display collections, ask questions of the experts, then choose from a select variety of healthy blooming orchids well-suited to the home environment.
Cost: Free admission; orchids priced from $15 to $40.

phantomoftheopera_300_categoryThe Phantom of the Opera
Through Feb. 15.
Belk Theater, 130 N. Tryon St., Charlotte.
What’s Happening: Cameron Mackintosh’s spectacular new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s phenomenal musical success features a brilliant new scenic design, Tony Award-winning original costume design, new choreography and a new staging. The beloved story and thrilling score – with songs like “Music of the Night,” “All I Ask Of You,” and “Masquerade” – will be performed by a cast and orchestra of 52, making this Phantom one of the largest productions now on tour. Presented by Blumenthal Performing Arts.
Cost: $30 and up.

Sweetheart Plantation Tours
Feb. 10-15.
Where: Historic Latta Plantation 5225 Sample Road, Charlotte.
What’s Happening: Your Sweetheart is sure to enjoy a Guided House Tour with a sweet little twist. During this week each house tour will be accompanied by historical Valentine’s Day facts and love stories of the Latta family. See the courting window, courting candle, vintage Valentines cards and more! Learn how the holiday began and also enjoy a self-guided tour of the Plantation’s grounds and outbuildings as well as the exhibit hall.
Cost: $7 adults, $6 seniors and students, free for children 5 years old and younger.

Music and Museum: Chamber of Love VI: Serenades and Ballades
Feb. 15.
Bechtler Museum of Modern Art at Levine Center for the Arts 420 S. Tryon St., Charlotte.
What’s Happening:
Sounds of love will fill the 4th-floor gallery when the Bechtler presents a Valentine’s Day-themed Music and Museum concert. Chamber of Love VI: Serenades and Ballades features the Bechtler Ensemble performing the music of Borodin, Tchaikovsky and Gershwin.
Cost: $12 for non-members and $8 for museum members.

Connecting with culture

30 Jan

By Bernie Petit
Communications Manager


The Arts & Science Council’s Annual Fund Drive, currently underway, is about sustaining Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s vibrant cultural sector.

It’s one reason ASC kicked off its fund drive with Connect with Culture Day, which saw thousands participate in cultural experiences around the county.

The day started ASC towards its goal of raising $6.1 million to support neighborhood cultural programs, festivals, individual artists, and the sector and the operations of 20 organizations in fiscal year 2015-16. Look below for ASC’s slideshow of images from the day.

And please support the ASC fund drive. To give, visit Every gift matters.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Charlotte Scene acts on behalf of our fair lady

30 Jan

By Amy Bareham
Cultural & Community Investment Intern

Charlotte Theatre Scene

Something about Charlotte is bewitching – just ask the myriad of people who serve her tirelessly. The theatre community has fallen for her especially hard, seeking to deliver performances that entice her community and foster a deeper appreciation for the stage. What’s a production company supposed to do, though, when money is tight and the show must go on? Local theatre groups have banded together under the consulting expertise of Josh Jacobson, deciding to share their brainpower as a means of reaching people like you.

I spent some time discussing the project with Jacobson and Donna Scott, Artistic Executive Director of participating group, Donna Scott Productions.

The initiative itself is called Charlotte Scene and encompasses three objectives: increasing advocacy, awareness and resources. Jacobson, who previously worked in administration for the Manhattan Theatre Club and the Julliard School, has firsthand knowledge of the arts sector’s intricacies. Approached by the Arts and Science Council to facilitate dialogue between the various companies involved, he realizes the value of theatrical experience. More than anything else, Jacobson believes in the practicality of cooperation.

“Charlotte Scene…is really in service to the first goal of awareness. It’s funded [in part] by the Knight Foundation [and] an opportunity…for them [local producing companies] to share advertising expenses,” he said. “There’s a lot that can happen from cross-pollination.”

In response, the obvious question seemed why haven’t we done this before? Why has it taken so long to implement a strategic advertising plan? Jacobson explained that plenty have noticed the need, but limited finances have choked out progress. “I think it’s hard…the challenge of we have ambition but we’re already overworked staff and volunteers and artists, this just adds to the plate. What we tried to impress is it will always be an overworked, under-resourced community unless we do something about it. It’s really about prioritizing it.”

Scott agreed, explaining, “I think perhaps as producers we have just all stayed very focused on our own seasons and upcoming projects which is an easy thing to do–everyone stays very busy. But times have changed for the arts and I think the majority of theatre companies have had to rethink how they attract and serve their audiences to stay in business.”

What Jacobson wants is for the theatre family to find their momentum and take ownership of the initiative, although he recognizes the need for a “convalescing of [Charlotte Scene] into an organizational bottle.” Essentially, an overarching coordinator is still necessary to sustain the initiative.

Most fascinating for me, was Jacobson’s analysis of Charlotte’s demand issue. He cited the cultural boom of the 60s and 70s – specifically the way organizations cultivated a hunger for art. “You [are] a business like any other business and if there’s not a demand for your product and it’s allowed to die, whose fault is that? Is it the community’s fault for not giving you resources or is it the company’s for not creating demand for the product? That’s a tough love moment. There’s truth in both camps…we do also have to understand our audiences…we need to be informed by the things around us.”

In an ideal world, theatre wouldn’t need to fight for its place on the classical art shelf. I asked Scott about her dreams for Charlotte’s theatrical future, and she shared hopes for theatre expanding “into all corners of our city and popping up in new, nontraditional venues and spaces.”

Uniting under their mutual love for our city, Charlotte’s theatres desire, like Scott, “that Charlotte is thought of as a regional center with a vibrant theatre scene known for [its] high quality, vast opportunity and strong sense of community.” Good love is reciprocal, so let’s return the favor and partake in the drama.

Visit to buy tickets for this season’s biggest shows.

ArtPop sparks imagination

30 Jan

By Bernie Petit
Communications Manager

Artist Jason Woodberry in front of his 2015 ArtPop billboard.

Artist Jason Woodberry in front of his 2015 ArtPop billboard.

Creativity in its purest form.

That’s what Jason Woodberry’s digital illustration of a young child blowing sci-fi-inspired bubbles signifies.

“The overall idea is the birth of imagination,” he said. “It’s that imaginative free spirit aspect that allows us to create the craziest things.”

The piece, titled “Dark Matter,” is one of the 20 artworks selected for the Arts & Science Council’s (ASC) ArtPop program. The second-year program will showcase the work of local artists on billboards across the Charlotte region throughout 2015, thanks to an ASC partnership with Adams Outdoor Advertising.

The feeling of seeing your work displayed on a billboard can be hard to describe.

“For a moment, you’re like, wow, that’s mine – who else is looking at it?” he said. “I’m thinking, ‘I made this in the corner of my apartment on an Ikea desk.’

“It’s humbling just to have people like your stuff, especially when it’s on a billboard. That kind of validates you in one way or another.”

The 2015 ArtPop billboard of Jason Woodberry.

The 2015 ArtPop billboard of Jason Woodberry.

It’s been a long time coming for Woodberry to reach this point in his career. Originally from Virginia Beach, he was pursuing a music career and working at a home improvement store when decided to move to Charlotte on a whim in 2006.

He took his last paycheck, packed as much as he could fit into three suitcases and bought a Greyhound bus ticket.

“It was leap of faith,” he said. “I realized that if I’m going to try to maximize my potential, it wasn’t going to happen where I was.”

He also realized the music business wasn’t for him, and his move offered the lifelong fan of comics and anime the opportunity to pursue another passion – visual arts.

Woodberry met local graphic artist Marcus Kiser a year or two after moving to town and learned that the two shared the same interests. Kiser became a mentor to Woodberry, helping him find his niche.

“Comics and cartoons – ’80’s cartoons – probably had the most influence on my art style,” said Woodberry, recalling such childhood favorites as “The Transformers” and “SilverHawks.” “They weren’t as literal.”

His ArtPop piece meshes those comic sensibilities with elements of science fiction, such as the noticeable markings on the child’s face and the space-like atmosphere found in the bubbles. His six-year-old son’s unencumbered creativity inspired the piece.

“When my son draws something, he’ll present it to me like, ‘Look what I drew.’ In his mind, he’s not thinking ‘Am I going to get 30 Facebook likes?’” Woodberry said. “Despite being at the mercy of everybody watching, he obviously doesn’t care. I wish we could all be that way.”


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