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Be an Informed Voter

22 Oct

By Amy Mitchell
Communications Manager

Tuesday, Nov. 3 is Election Day.

Since 1975, the public sector has played a critical role in supporting and growing Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s cultural sector. Since that time, ASC has only been able to fund the cultural sector by combining resources from local and state government with those of the private sector to maximize community impact.

Be an informed voter at the polls this year, and learn the candidate’s positions about Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s cultural community.

The questionnaire was distributed by ASC and was provided to candidates running for city, town and board of education positions.

Candidates shared their positions about public funding of cultural programs, and the role arts, science, history and heritage should play in our communities and schools. Read the candidate responses below.

City of Charlotte mayoral candidates Jennifer Roberts (left) and Edwin Peacock III (right).

City of Charlotte mayoral candidates Jennifer Roberts (left) and Edwin Peacock III (right).

Mayor, City of Charlotte

Charlotte City Council

Board of Commissioners, Town of Cornelius

Board of Commissioners, Town of Davidson

Mayor, Town of Davidson

Board of Commissioners, Town of Huntersville

Mayor, Town of Huntersville

Board of Commissioners, Town of Matthews  

Board of Commissioners, Town of Mint Hill

Town Council, Town of Pineville

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education – At-Large

Stepping back, or “How I spent my summer vacation”

2 Oct

By Robert Bush
ASC President

Robert Bush | President | Arts & Science Council
This past July, I was given what may be the best gift I have ever received – time. After 15 years at ASC, the ASC Board gave me the opportunity to disconnect from the day-to-day of Charlotte and ASC for an entire month and challenge myself to new ideas, creativity and innovation.

During my ‘sabbatical,’ I could have taken off to Europe and visited museums and cathedrals or gone to an isolated place to read and reflect. I instead chose to step into an environment where I would be forced to see and do things I have never done before and in an art form that I barely knew.

I chose to spend a large part of the month at the Penland School of Crafts.

For those of you unfamiliar with Penland, it was founded in 1929 in the Blue Ridge Mountains by Lucy Morgan as an outgrowth of a craft-based economic development project she had started several years earlier.

One of the great stories of Penland relates Miss Lucy loading up her Model T truck with the textiles woven by the women in the area and driving to the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933 and coming home with everything sold and funds to invest in building the school.

You might want to visit Penland’s website or take a look at the short film below on the history of the school.


Since Miss Lucy’s retirement in the early 1960s, Penland has established itself as an internationally known creative and inspiring retreat center for both artists and interested folk alike.

So, on July 5, I went to Penland as one of those ‘interested folk.’ Over the next two weeks, I was immersed in a different world. My art background is in the performing arts – theatre and music – and while I’m a lover of the visual arts, I’m at a loss when it comes to techniques or understanding of materials.

What I do bring is a willingness to try, no fear of materials and a zeal for the creative process. I was in a special book-making residency titled The What & The Why: Books as Idea Generators. At that first class meeting, I found myself in a class of 12 individuals from across the U.S. – 10 of who are professional artists, all familiar with the book as an art form.

A look at some of the artwork Robert Bush created in a book-making residency at Penland School of Crafts.

A look at the artwork Robert Bush created in a book-making residency at Penland.

I could recount the 12 hour days, ‘one word’ prompts each afternoon that required a book be made for a 10 a.m. group show and critique the next morning, the mistakes I made….let’s just say I now understand ‘make it work’ and I held my own.

I totally stepped away from my job and the world (no TV, barely internet) for two weeks, immersed myself in an unfamiliar setting doing unfamiliar things. It was nothing I expected and everything I had hoped for.

Living in a community of 190 artists and students of the arts for those two weeks left me with many gifts:

  • A renewed appreciation for the role of the individual artist in society and more importantly in community – they give us gifts of seeing the world through their eyes or the opportunity to see a world we would never know…they make us think and stretch and use muscles that we haven’t used since we were children…they are the voices that future generations will look to for an understanding of who we are as a people. Without them, what good are our grand theatres or museums?
  • A clearer understanding of the incredible opportunity that we have been given to re-imagine and create the new ASC that Charlotte-Mecklenburg demands for the 21st century. Built on the vision articulated by my fellow citizens, we are on a journey to engage our audiences and fellow citizens at a level never known – here or anywhere in the U.S.
  • A sense of joy that I get to work every day with incredible, talented team both at ASC and in the leadership of our cultural institutions to step up to the challenges we have faced and see ourselves anew. Partners who have put before us this coming year one of the most interesting and exciting seasons of exhibitions, plays, musicals, concerts and participatory offerings that I’ve ever seen – something for everyone…so get out there and go!
  • The power of the individual ‘creative’ that spends most of their life as a banker, lawyer, doctor, accountant, school teacher or most any other job. How do they do their job all day, take care of their families and still finds time to entertain from a stage, to make pottery or paint or sculpt…all for the love of the art form and how it gives their lives purpose.

After the past three years of intense planning efforts and assuming my new role at ASC, my adventure at Penland could not have come at a better time. I spent a lot of summers as a child, teen and young adult at camp – both as camper and counselor – so in some ways, Penland reconnected me to that joy I experienced in camps long ago.

But, more importantly, my time at Penland gave me so much more – a clear head, an affirmation of the important work I get to do, the chance to make mistakes and figure out how to fix them, to see in the work of others things I can only dream of doing, the importance of being present and engaged in community.

Culture For All? Yes, Please!

2 Sep

By Amy Mitchell 
Communications Manager 

Access to arts, science, history and heritage experiences that educate, entertain and enrich our quality of life is something we all deserve.

But it’s not something we all have.

ASC’s Cultural Free For All, presented to the community by Wells Fargo, provides access and engagement opportunities where residents can connect to their cultural passions, enjoy unique experiences and discover something new.

It’s about more than making cultural experiences free of charge, although it does exactly that. It’s about taking the arts closer to where people live and offering cultural programming that is relevant to their lives.

So, from uptown Charlotte to Lake Norman and from South End to South Mecklenburg, Cultural Free For All will feature a multitude of arts and culture experiences in communities and neighborhoods throughout Charlotte-Mecklenburg.


It includes Symphony On Tap, a free Charlotte Symphony performance; Culture Feast, an evening of dinner, drinks, cultural experiences, and a free dance party with music by A Sign of the Times; and the return of ASC’s Connect with Culture Day, featuring free access to museums and cultural activities throughout the county.

Symphony On Tap
Wednesday, September 16, 2015 ∙ 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Belk Theater, Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, 130 N. Tryon Street, Charlotte

orchestracwglgEnjoy a free hour-long season preview concert by the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra. A brass ensemble will perform during a kickoff “fanfare” in front of Belk Theater at 5:30 p.m. Appetizers and drink specials will be available throughout the evening.

How to participate in Symphony On Tap: Click here to reserve free tickets online, and be entered to win free Charlotte Symphony tickets.

Culture Feast
Friday, September 18, 2015 ∙ 6:30 p.m. – 11 p.m.
On S. Tryon Street, between Martin Luther King Blvd. & Levine Avenue of the Arts

Purchase dinner tickets at

Share a community table and enjoy the ultimate cultural street party on South Tryon. During the ticketed dinner you’ll be surrounded by unique cultural happenings, then dance the night away at a free-for-all performance by A Sign of the Times on the street at Levine Center for the Arts. Cultural happenings during the feast will be provided by Charlotte Museum of History, Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, Inspire the Fire, Opera Carolina and Carolinas Latin Dance Company.

The dinner menu includes a Southern-style dinner of baby arugula salad, mesquite grilled chicken breast, cheddar grits, cider braised collard greens, mustard greens, and Swiss chard, baskets of house-made buttermilk biscuits and cornbread with honey butter, fresh banana pudding plus select beer and wine. Vegetarian option available.

How to participate in Culture Feast: Click here to purchase dinner tickets, must be 21 or older. Then stay for the dance party at 9:00 p.m. No ticket or registration necessary for the dance party.

ASC Connect with Culture Day
Saturday, September 19, 2015
Various times and locations
For a complete list of experiences and details visit

ConnectCulture-2018Explore diverse arts and culture experiences across Mecklenburg County for free on Sept. 19. The day will feature museums open free of charge during select hours and cultural activities taking place throughout the county to bring everything from opera and theatre to dance and jazz closer to where people live.

How to participate in Connect with Culture Day: No ticket necessary for Connect with Culture Day experiences. Be sure to visit for complete details on each experience before you go. Clayworks Muddy Fun and Handbuilding classes require pre-registration, and space is limited. Plan to arrive early, as space may be limited at various locations and ASC cannot guarantee availability.

The Cultural Free For All generates awareness about what Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s cultural community has to offer. It also kicks off ASC’s annual giving campaign.

Preparing for student success this school year with arts education

28 Jul

By Amy Mitchell
Communications Manager 

It’s back to school season for students in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. While parents and students are finishing up vacations and summer camps, shopping for school supplies and new jeans, ASC is preparing for another academic year of taking arts education into area PreK-12 schools.

Embarking on its fourth year, ASC’s School Grants program was developed to support the placement of professional artists, scientists, historians, and other cultural providers in grades K-12 for curriculum-based residencies, workshops, day trips, assemblies or performances, out of school experiences, or professional development for teachers.

Bright Star Touring Theatre performance at Elon Park Elementary last year.

Bright Star Touring Theatre performance at Elon Park Elementary last year.

Student engagement in arts education raises GPAs and test scores and reduces dropout rates, making arts, science, and history vital to every child’s education experience. Academic enrichment through arts and cultural programming ensures that Charlotte-Mecklenburg students are developed into critical, creative thinkers – the most sought skills in the 21st century workforce.

This ASC grant program gives educators the opportunity to include unique and creative arts and culture experiences for their students, fostering the further development of critical and creative thinking in the classroom and beyond.

This year the ASC School Grants program will provide up to $275,000 in total funding for Mecklenburg County public, charter, independent, parochial and private schools to support cultural programming that aligns with their curriculum and helps increase student success.

In the 2014-15 academic year, the ASC Education School Grants program reached 107,636 students with varied cultural programming with 165 schools participating throughout Mecklenburg County. Educators used the ASC Education Provider Directory and the ASC Cultural Education Expo to shop for their school’s experience and select engagements that provided the best fit within curriculum standards and student interest.

David Cox Road Elementary student participating in a Clayworks program made possible with funds from the ASC School Grants program.

David Cox Road Elementary student participating in a Clayworks program made possible with funds from the ASC School Grants program.

Check out feedback from Charlotte-Mecklenburg educators about their experiences last year:

“We just completed our soil testing unit of study, so the soil testing portion of the program was fantastic! Students said that seeing the field tests of the soil tests really helped them to understand the process.” – Review of Reedy Creek Nature Center field trip

“Mimi is engaging and teaches concepts on many levels and learning styles. Every student walks away enriched from her programs.” – Review of Mimi Herman’s creative writing residency

“Mrs. Bartlett’s lessons were exactly what we are learning in math right now. Her lessons were linked directly to the Common Core and the objectives that we are covering in math.” – Review of Lona Bartlett’s Best of Friends Puppets and Storytelling performance

Lona Bartlett’s Best of Friends Puppets and Storytelling performance at Byers Elementary School last year.

Lona Bartlett’s Best of Friends Puppets and Storytelling performance at Byers Elementary School last year.

“I love ASC grants and programs. They are always top notch and afford students opportunities that they may not otherwise receive.” – Review of Living Rhythms: A Hands-On Exploration West African Drumming and Dance performance

“We study fables and it gave the kids an opportunity to hear some stories instead of always reading them or having stories read to them.” – Review of Linda Goodman’s storytelling performance

Join us as we kick off the 2015-16 school year at the ASC Cultural Education Expo.
August 29, 2015
9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Knight Theater

Learn more about local cultural resources available through ASC’s School Grants program, meet cultural education providers, and preview performances on the Knight Theater stage. Educators attending the expo will be entered to win raffle prizes, including provider donated artwork, educational resources, and additional grant dollars from ASC. While the expo event is meant as a resource for local educators, it is free to attend and open to the public.

Finding uptown Charlotte’s “hidden” public art

1 May

By Bernie Petit
Communications Manager

Public art is all around us—even places we don’t expect to find it.

Hidden works lurk in interior locations and blend into parks and architecture, beckoning to us and inviting us to stick around awhile.

Some greet you warmly as soon as you enter one of our uptown buildings. Others force you to look up. Or down. Or to stop and smell the roses.

But once you discover any of them, your perception of that place and space is forever altered.

In what we hope will become the first in an occasional series uncovering some of Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s “hidden” treasures, we take a look at eight of our favorite uptown public artworks hiding in plain sight.

Oculus Reflector.

Oculus Reflector.

Oculus Reflector
James Carpenter.
Where You Can Find It: Charlotte Convention Center.
What You’ll Uncover: Perched in the circular opening of the dome in the Convention Center’s Grand Hall, the three-dimensional light reflective sculpture made of glass and steel creates shifting patterns and designs on the floor. It’s one of nine public artworks found at the Convention Center.



Passing Through Light.

Passing Through Light.

Passing Through Light
Artist: Erwin Redl.
Where You Can Find It: I-77 Underpass at West Trade Street.
What You’ll Uncover: The immersive public artwork consists of three sequences of light that slowly loop through a color gradient, turning what was an unsafe, unwelcoming space into a visual, dynamic gateway for vehicles and pedestrians as they enter and exit Charlotte’s Northwest corridor. The project was the first in the state to test the N.C. Department of Transportation’s (NCDOT) art on the right-of-way policy, which provides a way for communities to undertake public art projects within the NCDOT right-of-way.

Rendering the Familiar.

Rendering the Familiar.

Rendering the Familiar
Artists: Amy Baur and Brian Bolden.
Where You Can Find It: City-County Courts District, 700 E. 4th St.
What You’ll Uncover: Digital images past and present Charlotte are merged in this wall installation to provide a sense of perspective and peace.

We Hold These Truths.

We Hold These Truths.

We Hold These Truths (exterior) and Let Justice Like a River Roll (interior)
Robin Brailsford, artist & Fred Chappell, poet.
Where You Can Find It:
Mecklenburg County Courthouse, 832 E. 4th St.
What You’ll Uncover: On the exterior, quotes from the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution are accompanied by complementary phrases that provide historical and philosophical context. The interior holds a carved poem written by Chappell, a former North Carolina Poet Laureate, which echoes, in poetic form, the sentiments of America’s founders.

Wind Silos.

Wind Silos.

Wind Silos
Ned Kahn.
Where You Can Find It: Parking deck of the International Trade Center, 200 N. College St.
What You’ll Uncover: The inspiration for the piece came from the Archer Daniels Midland silos still standing in Fourth Ward. Its undulating metal screens are evocative of grain silos and are designed to allow ventilation while creating a visual screen.




Artist: Jean Tinguely.
Where You Can Find It: Carillon Building, 227 W. Trade St.
What You’ll Uncover: Cascade, created in 1991, was the last monumental work by the famed kinetic sculptor. Tinguely came to Charlotte at the behest of his friend Andreas Bechtler, the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art benefactor. The artist incorporated pieces he discovered locally into the work, including a lion’s head from the façade of the old Hotel Charlotte, where the Carillon currently stands.



Artist: Ben Long.
Where You Can Find It: Exterior rotunda of the TransAmerica Building, 401 N. Tryon St.
What You’ll Uncover: The fresco requires you to crane your neck in order to see faces and images iconic to North Carolina. Among them are the Tar Heel mascot and former Bank of America Chairman and CEO Hugh McColl.

Traces of Fourth Ward.

Traces of Fourth Ward.

Traces of Fourth Ward
Artist: Shaun Cassidy.
Where You Can Find It: Fourth Ward Neighborhood Park, 301 N. Poplar St.
What You’ll Uncover: The steel sculpture is fashioned in the style of the Victorian homes prominent in the historic neighborhood. It also supports a climbing rose bush that covers the structure.

Earth Day art contest for kids

23 Apr

Compiled by Bernie Petit
Communications Manager

Earth Day celebrations may have taken place across the globe yesterday, but Earth Day KidsCharlotte-Mecklenburg area students have the opportunity to use art to illustrate why it’s important to celebrate Earth Day every day.

Carolinas HealthCare System (CHS) and the Arts & Science Council invite kids in pre-K through 12th grade to participate in a Kids Art Contest honoring Earth Day. Artwork should best portray the child’s or teen’s response to the following:

“For a healthy community, we need a healthy environment. How might you show compassion to others and the natural environment to create a healthy future for all living things?”

Artwork can use any two-dimensional medium-such as watercolor, colored pencil, pen and ink, pastels, crayons and more-on a single piece of white paper. Artwork should not exceed an 8”x10” template area.

Participants have to be sponsored by a CHS employee to participate. All artwork submissions and completed entry forms must be received by May 22, 2015. Submission forms can be downloaded by clicking here.

Blumenthal announces newest Center Stage honorees

20 Jan

By Elise Esasky
Public Relations Manager, Blumenthal Performing Arts 

Blumenthal Performing Arts awarded three Center Stage Awards to community leaders during its annual meeting on Jan. 14 in Booth Playhouse at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center.

Center Stage awards are presented to individuals or organizations whose service or partnership with Blumenthal Performing Arts has furthered the mission, reach and improved the programs Blumenthal provides to the community.

Charlene McMoore with Henry and Rene Justice and Joyce Ford. (Courtesy Blumenthal Performing Arts.)

Charlene McMoore with Henry and Rene Justice and Joyce Ford. (Courtesy Blumenthal Performing Arts.)

Charlene McMoore

Charlene McMoore is a Charlotte native, and is a Project Manager in the IT Department at Duke Energy. She was a volunteer at Spirit Square in the 90’s before Blumenthal Performing Arts came into existence in 1992. Soon after that, she joined Blumenthal’s newly formed volunteer program. She has been a committed and faithful volunteer who always works more than her required number of events each month, and she provides excellent customer service to Blumenthal patrons. Last year alone, McMoore provided more than 200 hours of volunteer service. She says she enjoys volunteering at BPA because it provides a great atmosphere to meet and be of service to a variety of people in the community who attend events in Blumenthal’s six theaters.

Rebecca Henderson with Rick Puckett and Tom Gabbard. (Photo courtesy Blumenthal Performing Arts.)

Rebecca Henderson with Rick Puckett and Tom Gabbard. (Photo courtesy Blumenthal Performing Arts.)

Rebecca Henderson

Rebecca Henderson is completing six years of service as a trustee. During her tenure, she steadfastly worked as a volunteer fundraiser every year on the corporate campaign and she was very successful. Over the past six years, Henderson helped raise more than $500,000 for Blumenthal’s education and outreach programs, during the most challenging economic years in memory.

Mary Nell McPherson with Tom Gabbard and Rick Puckett. (Courtesy Blumenthal Performing Arts.)

Mary Nell McPherson with Tom Gabbard and Rick Puckett. (Courtesy Blumenthal Performing Arts.)

Freedom School Partners (accepted by Mary Nell McPherson)

Freedom School Partners is a non-profit organization that provides Charlotte area literacy based summer education programs to prevent summer learning loss for students in grades K-12. They are the largest provider of Freedom Schools in the Nation: a full 10% of the nation’s total Freedom School scholars and interns are served in Charlotte Mecklenburg. While many schools today are focused on STEM, Freedom School Partners believe STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, ARTS, and Math) to be the key to a child’s success. Each summer they incorporate performing arts opportunities to broaden their scholars’ creativity, social and emotional intelligence and to inspire them to dream big.

Through a partnership with Freedom Schools in FY14, and fueled by the generosity of thousands of constituents, BPA increased access to a Broadway performance for families and kids least able to afford a ticket by 400%.

Blumenthal Performing Arts serves the Carolinas as a leading cultural, entertainment and education provider. For more information, call (704) 372-1000 or visit Blumenthal Performing Arts receives operating support from the Arts & Science Council and the North Carolina Arts Council. Blumenthal Performing Arts is also supported through the generous aid of its sponsors including, PNC Bank, sponsor of PNC Broadway Lights; and US Airways, official airline of Blumenthal Performing Arts.


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