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Renewal of public/private partnership needed to sustain cultural sector

1 May

By Bernie Petit
Communications Manager

Photo illustration by Sean Busher.

Photo illustration by Sean Busher.

The Cultural Vision Plan laid out Charlotte-Mecklenburg residents’ expectation that the cultural community connect people and strengthen community by providing access to relevant, educational and diverse arts and cultural experiences to all residents.

The question left unanswered was ‘how can we pay for this vision when our cultural community has not recovered from the 2008 recession’.

The Cultural Life Task Force, a joint effort between our local private and public sector funders, provided the roadmap for sustaining the cultural sector so that it can move towards fulfilling that community goal.

Now, the Arts & Science Council (ASC) is tasked with implementing the recommendations and visions offered by the two plans. Doing so, said ASC President Robert Bush, will mean revitalizing the public/private partnership that has been central to building and growing our cultural community.

It is why ASC, the community’s chief advocate for arts, science, history and heritage, has requested funding increases from the City of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County and the towns of Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville, Matthews, Mint Hill and Pineville. The requests focus on increasing the per capita to serve the growing population.

ASC President Robert Bush.

ASC President Robert Bush.

“The requests that we have made—even the dollar amounts—were specifically recommended by the task force,” Bush said. “We have also been very specific in what these dollars would fund. This isn’t just a ‘give us more money and we’ll decide’ kind of thing.”

Because changes the N.C. Legislature made to the business privilege tax mean reductions in funding for local governments, ASC has provided the towns and the city a stepped-in approach to achieve the task force’s recommended level of funding over a three- to five-year period.

For fiscal year 2016, the requested increases amount to a combined $39,200 more in unrestricted funds from the towns (from $72,500 in FY 2015 to $111,700), $350,000 more from the city (from $2.9 million to $3.2 million) and $2 million from the county, which last gave ASC unrestricted funding in 2011 (it provided $350,000 in restricted funds in FY 2015).

Half of the requested increased funds from Mecklenburg County would support education initiatives that restore and stabilize field trips, allow elementary schools to use the arts to improve reading, expand or reestablish middle school music programs and establish out-of-school time arts, science and history programs across the county.

The remainder would go to support neighborhood arts programming, providing cultural exhibitions and performances in parks and libraries and transforming the services the cultural sector provides to the community.

“These are all things that align with the county’s priorities in building this community for the future,” Bush said. “We have taken similar steps with the city and the towns so that the cultural services provided are the ones their communities want.”

The task force called for the additional public sector support to be matched by the private sector. That is happening, with the Thrive Campaign—comprised of a small group of corporate and individual donors and foundations—having already raised $42.5 million of its $45 million goal to help major cultural institutions transform their business models and produce their work more cost-effectively.

The campaign, which is completely separate from ASC, is led by Hugh McColl.

“Thrive money is about building the capacity of our major institutions so they can reach their highest potential to serve the community in new ways and we are excited that the Thrive group has done this,” Bush said. “But those dollars are not flowing through ASC. They are a totally separate fund, and we need to keep raising the dollars we have been raising so that ASC can invest in the cultural sector.”

Thrive donors have been clear in saying they expect the public sector to match their efforts to reinvigorate the public/private partnership that led to the establishment of Spirit Square, The Afro-American Cultural Center (now the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture), Discovery Place and Blumenthal Performing Arts in the 1970s and 80s.

“We’ve built this big infrastructure,” Bush said. “The problem we have now is that the system that we built this on put ASC between the donor and the groups and we’ve got to change that. The groups have to build deep relationships with people that love what they do, and we’ve got to provide a stable highway to get to that new system.”

It’s a challenging time for local governments, but “every year we wait to make this shift, the deeper the hole gets and we get closer to the point where we may lose some of our beloved institutions,” Bush said.

The loss of any more of our longtime cultural organizations would be detrimental to the community, Bush said. But he said it shouldn’t come to that.

“The arts, science and history programs we have in this community are a view to a different world for many people and they are the path to give people a future and a place of hope,” he said. “It’s not just about entertainment. It’s about inspiring people to think differently about their lives.

“It’s about inspiring young people to be serious about their education. It’s about ensuring that this is a joyful place to live, work, raise a family and play. It’s about the cultural sector being a critical economic and tourism driver, and I firmly believe that this community has the ability to make all of this happen and everything else and that it’s time that we all stand up and together for the cultural sector that impacts the quality of life of residents and visitors.”

What’s your big idea to improve Charlotte?

13 Apr

ASC Staff

Emerging 4 update 2

Do you have an innovative idea that will help make Charlotte more livable? Are you eager to serve and engage your community?

Share your idea with 880 Cities and Knight Foundation and tell them about yourself. You could be selected as a K880 Emerging City Champion.

What is the K880 City Champions program?

emerging 6 smallerThe K880 Emerging City Champions program provides young, emerging and diverse leaders with the opportunity to make immediate and lasting impacts in their communities. K880 and Knight Foundation believe that livable cities are successful cities. Making our cities safer and more enjoyable for everyone, from eight to 80 years old, will help our communities attract and retain talent, create economic opportunity, and build civic engagement.

If you are between the ages of 19 and 35; if you have the ideas; if you’re willing to try and fail and learn; if you have the drive and passion; and, if you live in either Charlotte, North Carolina; Akron, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan; Macon, Georgia; Miami, Florida; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Saint Paul, Minnesota; or San Jose, California, then apply today to be a K880 Emerging City Champion.

880 Cities and Knight Foundation will select 24 Champions from the pool of applicants: three Champions each city.

Benefits to becoming an Emerging City Champion

All Champions will:

  • Receive $5,000 in seed funding to implement his or her proposed idea;
  • Participate in The Emerging City Champions Studio, a training workshop held in Toronto in June 2015 (travel and stipends will be fully covered);
  • Receive professional media training and be supported in developing a communications and promotional strategy. This will include training in writing, social media, and video documentation;
  • Connect to a diverse and inspiring network of peers from across the country;
  • Interact with a mentor (an expert in the field) who will offer support, expertise, and advice throughout the program (880 Cities staff will also be available to support the Champions in implementing their projects);
  • Be recognized and promoted by 880 Cities and the Knight Foundation.

You should apply if you are:

  • A young urbanist, passionate about your community
  • An emerging civic leader, committed to your neighborhood or city
  • An innovator and a creative problem solver
  • A youth activist who wants a better future for your neighborhood
  • A young community organizer eager to explore new ways to get people engaged
  • Someone who loves to walk and bike and who thinks all cities should be bikeable and walkable
  • Ambitious, collaborative, and inclusive

The Emerging City Champions is open to anyone with an innovative idea and the ability to implement it. Applicants may be activists, tactical urbanists, designers, artists, planning professionals, hackers, architects; everyone is welcome. K880 and Knight Foundation are seeking applicants from diverse backgrounds, fresh perspectives, and innovative solutions.

So what are you waiting for?

Click here for more information or to apply. Application closes on MAY 8, 2015. Share your big ideas to make Charlotte better!

Matisse art books make for artful exhibition at the Becthler

1 Apr

By Bernie Petit
Communications Manager

Icarus

Henri Matisse, Icarus, plate VIII of XX, from Jazz, 1947, stencil on paper © 2015 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Imagine sitting in your easy chair and taking in the work of renowned artist Henri Matisse.

That’s how comfortable you will be strolling through the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art at Levine Center for the Arts’ exhibition “The Art Books of Henri Matisse,” which runs through Sept. 7, 2015.

Drawn from the Bank of America Collection, the exhibition features 80 framed original illustrations with text from four of Matisse’s most significant artist books.

“This is truly the first time we have decided to work with another entity, this one Bank of America, to bring to Charlotte a show that had in fact been curated by their motif, which is remarkably strong,” said Bechtler President and CEO John Boyer. “So we do see this as a real partnership.”

Widely regarded as one of the most important painters of the 20th century, Matisse (French, 1869-1954) was part of a generation of artists who recognized there was no material difference between painting, sculpture, drawing, printmaking and, in this case, art books, and how they strike us, Boyer said.

During his 60-year career, Matisse created a body of work that comprised paintings, drawings, cut-outs and sculpture. Starting in the 1930s, he devoted much of his time to printmaking and book illustration, as livre d’artise’ (artist’s books) had become popular in France.

“It’s increasingly important, I think, for this community and beyond to recognize that artworks such as artist books and prints with the etchings and all of the rest are in no way of less importance because they come in a series,” Boyer said. “Audiences come to understand fully that these were very much intentional acts on the part of the artists.

“This was a form of expression that was critically important to great modernists.”

Henri Matisse, The Cowboy, plate XIV of XX, from Jazz, 1947, stencil on paper © 2015 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Henri Matisse, The Cowboy, plate XIV of XX, from Jazz, 1947, stencil on paper © 2015 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Matisse became enamored with this art form and created a dozen books, 11 of which were widely reproduced and one made exclusively for his family. Charlotte-based Bank of America owns four of Matisse’s books, which have been loaned to the Bechtler for this exhibition.

Those books are: Poesies de Stéhane Mallarmé (The Poetry of Stéphane Mallarmé), 1932; Pasiphaé—Chant de Minos (Les Crétois) (Pasiphaé-Song of Minos [The Cretans]), 1944; Jazz, 1947; and Poèmes de Charles d’Orléans (Poems of Charles d’Orléans), 1950.

“In one instance in particular, in Jazz, the entirety of the book is a dimension of Matisse,” Boyer said. “That is to say the images, the text, the very view of the world are an expression of him.”

In addition to the core group of Matisse works, a limited number of artists’ books from the Bechtler’s collection are also on view in the exhibition.

For more information on the exhibition, including museum hours and admission, visit www.bechtler.org.

 

 

Addressing the question of cultural relevance

16 Mar

By Robert Bush
ASC President

ASC President Robert Bush.

ASC President Robert Bush.

If it were possible to put a mirror in front of all of Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s cultural experiences, you should see a familiar face – your own. I, along with ASC’s staff and cultural partners, are always working to ensure the image in the cultural mirror is a reflection of you. That keeps one question at the forefront of our minds: “What’s culturally relevant, and how can we find innovative ways to support and share those experiences with donors, residents and visitors?” That question has an evolving answer, and that’s what makes my job fun.

As we become a more diverse community, the question of ‘cultural relevance’ becomes an even more important issue. While traditional experiences and programs are still appreciated, ASC recognizes that our community is begging for more; more diversity, more access, more inclusion, more innovation and more engagement. Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s new Cultural Vision Plan addressed those issues by directing the arts and cultural sector to take a deeper look at the face of our community and find ways to do more where it is needed, as well as reflect the diversity of voices and culture expressions surrounding us.

Theatre Charlotte is a cultural partner that has already taken a step toward understanding new reflections in our cultural mirror and finding innovative ways to meet the needs of the images it sees. The theatre’s 2011 production of The Glass Menagerie is a great example. By taking Tennessee Williams’ play, which traditionally has an all Caucasian cast, and casting it with all African-Americans, Theatre Charlotte found a new approach to tell a well-known story in a more diverse and inclusive way.

The Theatre Charlotte 2011 production of "The Glass Menagerie." (Theatre Charlotte photo.)

The Theatre Charlotte 2011 production of “The Glass Menagerie.” (Theatre Charlotte photo.)

Their non-traditional approach allowed them to show how Williams’ play could be seen from a different perspective. It enabled them to include the talents of actors that normally wouldn’t be cast in such roles. And in the end, their innovative approach exposed their usual attendees to a contemporary twist on a classic work. It also provided a welcoming atmosphere to new patrons that attended because of their support for the cast or their intrigue/curiosity of the new casting approach.

Charlotte Ballet is another cultural partner that is taking steps to ensure their programing is a true reflection of the changing face and tastes of our community. Associate Artistic Director Patricia McBride recently took George Balanchine’s Tarantella, a ballet he originally choreographed in 1964 with McBride in one of the featured roles, and restaged it with Charlotte Ballet’s Emily Ramirez and Jordan Leeper.

Tarantella was created more than 50 years ago, and although it is timeless in its artistry, audiences are not as enthusiastic. McBride recognized that change, casting talented young artists that would appeal to a new generation, and also adding her own intuition to the interpretation of Balanchine’s work – staying true to his original and addressing the preferences of today’s audiences, yearning for fresh, new work.

Like Theatre Charlotte, Charlotte Ballet and countless other cultural organizations and individual artists, I love trying to anticipate the cultural needs and desires of our community. I love helping create unique solutions used to meet those needs and desires. But most importantly, I love being a part of our community and seeing my reflection, alongside yours, in the great cultural experiences made possible through support from ASC.

I hope you see your reflection in the many cultural experiences and organizations that surround you. ASC is dedicated to making that kind of engagement happen for everyone.

The Gantt Center celebrates its 40th anniversary

1 Mar

By Bernie Petit
Communications Manager

GanttCenter-40Remember

For its 40th anniversary, the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture wants to continue its conversations with the community.

The ongoing dialogue includes last season’s “Question Bridge: Black Males” exhibit, which explored issues facing the black male community.

It continues with “Venturing Out of the Heart of Darkness,” the new exhibition that examines the long-standing impact of colonialism on societal attitudes that define black culture in America.

“I was asked this question about what’s next for the center and what kind of role would the center continue to play,” said Gantt Center President David Taylor.

With its latest exhibition, the center shows it will continue to be a leader in helping the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community have uncomfortable, but necessary, conversations.

It’s what the Gantt Center (founded as the Afro-American Cultural and Service Center in 1974 and renamed after Harvey Gantt, Charlotte’s first African-American mayor, in 2009) has done for the last four decades.

“Few cities have the privilege of prominent, public spaces that have existed for 40 years to celebrate the black experience,” Taylor said. “The Gantt Center proudly holds that distinction for Charlotte.”

“Venturing Out of the Heart of Darkness” does more than celebrate the black experience – it challenges viewers to critically think about how black identity has often been defined by others.

It does so through the work of guest curator Rehema Barber and nearly 20 national and international artists of the African diaspora, or the communities throughout the world descended from the historic movement of peoples from Africa.

This untitled piece by Ken Gonzales-Day is one of the many artworks featured at the new Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture exhibition "Venturing Out of the Heart of Darkness."

This untitled piece by Ken Gonzales-Day is one of the many artworks featured at the new Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture exhibition “Venturing Out of the Heart of Darkness.”

The exhibit, Barber said, was inspired by Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness.” It explores the history that shaped prevailing views about African-Americans – such as the “Magical Negro” (think the 2000 Will Smith film “The Legend of Bagger Vance”) and fallout from the Paula Deen controversy – and how those views played out in mainstream society.

“I was paying attention to a lot of things that were happening every day,” Barber said. “And so I said I really want to talk about people’s perceptions of black culture or black identity – how things influence that perception. Not so much about black identity as a whole, but this idea that there are things that sort of influence how we construct or how we perceive black identity.”

Sean Johnson's "False Identity" is is one of the many artworks featured at the new Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture exhibition "Venturing Out of the Heart of Darkness."

Sean Johnson’s “False Identity” is is one of the many artworks featured at the new Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture exhibition “Venturing Out of the Heart of Darkness.”

The perception of African-Americans, Barber said, is a conglomerate of ideas originated in the days of colonialism.

This exhibition, she said, is “about coming to the realization that we all have the power to define who we are for ourselves.”

Venture “Out of the Heart of Darkness”

The exhibition “Venturing Out of the Heart of Darkness” runs through June 26, 2015, at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Art + Culture at Levine Center for the Arts, 551 S. Tryon St., Charlotte. For more information, visit www.ganttcenter.org.

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 www.carolinatix.org.

Cuddle up with culture this Valentine’s Day

5 Feb

By Bernie Petit
Communications Manager

musical-valentine_category

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
When:
Feb 6.
Where:
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.
Details: http://www.charlottecultureguide.com/event/detail/441878285/Jazz_at_the_Bechtler_Jazz_for_Lovers

KnightSounds: A Waltz to Remember
When:
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.
Details: http://www.charlottecultureguide.com/event/detail/441897004/KnightSounds_A_Waltz_to_Remember

A Symphonic Valentine
When:
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.
Details: http://www.charlottecultureguide.com/event/detail/441832891/A_Symphonic_Valentine

family_day_low-res_20141108_03_categoryFamily Day
When:
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.
Details: http://www.charlottecultureguide.com/event/detail/441888095/Family_Day

love_bites_categoryLove Bites
When:
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.
Details: http://www.charlottecultureguide.com/event/detail/441897003/Love_Bites

Valentine’s Orchid Sale
When:
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.
Details: http://www.charlottecultureguide.com/event/detail/441897167/Valentines_Orchid_Sale_.

phantomoftheopera_300_categoryThe Phantom of the Opera
When:
Through Feb. 15.
Where:
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.
Details: http://www.charlottecultureguide.com/event/detail/441837492/The_Phantom_of_the_Opera.

Sweetheart Plantation Tours
When:
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.
Details: http://www.charlottecultureguide.com/event/detail/441890609/Sweetheart_Plantation_Tours.

Music and Museum: Chamber of Love VI: Serenades and Ballades
When:
Feb. 15.
Where:
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.
Details: http://www.charlottecultureguide.com/event/detail/441888043/Music_and_Museum_Chamber_of_Love_VI_Serenades_and_Ballades_.

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