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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.

Pouring over Arthur Brouthers

17 Oct

By Amy Bareham
Cultural & Community Investment Intern

Arthur Brouthers.

Arthur Brouthers.

Charlotte’s Culture Initiative, graphic design, painting and the Hornets all have someone in common: his name is Arthur Brouthers and he is a fall 2014 Arts & Science Council Community Supported Art (CSA) participant. Originally from Charleston, Brouthers is the embodiment of synergy, marrying multiple concepts and disciplines in order to produce art.

Like many, Brouthers initially put art dreams on hold, declining offers from SCAD and Parsons, and choosing to pursue graphic design at college instead. Once ingratiated in the Charlotte community, he partnered with a friend to develop Culture Initiative, a grassroots movement that supports emerging artists. After five years, roughly 30 shows and a whole lot of patience, Brouthers finally made the decision to step back and focus on his own art.

A successful show with Sharon Dowell and various other artists at Art Space 525 led to a commission and a contract with Sozo Gallery where Brouthers’ work is currently on display. Perhaps most impressive about his paintings is that they’re a result of trial and error.

“One day I was messing around…and I spilled paint. This is a true story,” said Brouthers, “I had some paint fall over, it got everywhere and I really liked the way that [the colors] blended.”

Never has trial and error looked so good. With his unique pouring technique, Brouthers is able to create different effects each time, and should it all go horribly wrong, he can scrape off the paint and begin again.

Artist by day and DJ by night, Brouthers has also made close ties with the Bobcats, now the Charlotte Hornets, playing a majority of home games, halftime sets and private functions. While music is an integral part of Brouthers’ character, he is thankful for the opportunity to invest more time into painting.

“I didn’t feel like I could really go anywhere with what I was doing before – I was doing abstracts,” he said. “I was doing what felt good and what helped me out. It was more like therapy for me. It really didn’t matter if anyone else liked it. Whenever I’m DJ-ing, if people don’t like my music, I don’t get hired or they don’t ask me to come back. But if I’m painting, I can just keep on doing whatever I want to do. It’s more of a freedom of expression.”

That freedom to create is bringing CSA shareholders 50 trademark pieces this October.

arthur brouthers work

Artwork by Arthur Brouthers.

“I’m doing 50 10x10x2 wood canvases,” Brouthers explained. “[They’re] basically my pouring style and then there’s a layer of epoxy resin on the top. It almost has a glassy look to it.”

All different colors and inspired by natural formations seen throughout the world, the canvases are labors of love.

“I work with a lot of acrylic and oil, gel mediums…different things to get that specific effect,” he said. “I use heat and I use fans and water, and I add oil…to kind of change the viscosity of the paint so that it will mix a certain way.”

Brouthers is completely self-taught, but as per his synergistic character, utilizes color theory from graphic design when working. With a new art studio and lounge-y house music in the background, this DJ-designer-artiste is set to revel in creative harmony.

Click here to see more of Arthur’s work.

Why Charlotte’s all of a-flutter

3 Oct

By Amy Bareham
Cultural and Community Investment Intern

Liz Saintsing.

Liz Saintsing.

If you circled Freedom Park at the recent Festival in the Park, you undoubtedly noticed Liz Saintsing, completely in her element and surrounded by silk screens.

Fall 2014 Arts & Science Council Community Supported Art participant and longtime art enthusiast, Saintsing has a vivacious spirit – one that absorbs the natural world in all its intricacy and translates each detail to paper. Drawing from observation is something she’s always known, often documenting scenes from childhood days.

“I grew up just south of Winston Salem,” she said. “It was a pretty rural area. We would constantly be outside. I remember hunting for birds’ nests and egg shells and snake skins.

“Being around nature, that’s certainly something that inspires me. I like the graphic qualities of the birds and the insects and the wide world around us.”

A Guildford grad, Saintsing moved out West, veering away from the stereotypical fine art route and pursuing art with a functional twist. She began printing on “really cool vintage handbags,” and found a niche with women who wanted a little something different on their arm. From there, Saintsing’s screening evolved into a home accessories line.

The process of silk screening caters to someone who’s a gifted drawer like Saintsing. She begins with a subject she wishes to draw and then transfers that drawing on a transparency film. After stretching a screen, she’ll coat it with a light sensitive liquid, leaving it to dry in a dark place before placing the image onto the screen.

As the screen is exposed to light, the image is essentially burned onto the screen and can then be used for production. Most impressive about this process is that computers aren’t involved. While some of the depth and detail form the original drawing are lost in the transfer, the design options are infinite.

CSA shareholders can expect a hand-dyed print, each uniquely different, signed and framed. Saintsing assured me, “They’re amazing.”

Bringing art into the home can feel daunting, especially when the medium is complex, like screening. I asked Saintsing her thoughts on this.

“People are definitely able to see the art,” she said. “Because it’s one of a kind and personalized, even if they’re not familiar with the silk screening process, they appreciate it and treasure it.”

She explained that her home décor products are “conversation pieces…there’s something really beautiful about [them].”

She’s right. Whether birds strike your fancy or you prefer silhouetted botanicals and sea creatures, Liz has something for everyone. With her wide range of coloration and pattern placement it’s easy to spend hours on her website trying to choose just the right piece. Indecisive shoppers beware.

Visit Saintsing’s website for more information.

Festivals kicking off the cultural season

28 Aug

By Bernie Petit
Communications Manager

Festival in the Park. (Photo credit: Festival in the Park.)

Festival in the Park. (Photo credit: Festival in the Park.)

September has long been considered the unofficial start of the cultural season.

What better way to kick off the season than cultural festivals that engage the community in the arts?

The Arts & Science Council (ASC) will invest $42,500 in festival sponsorships in 2014-15 to help increase access and strengthen the quality of cultural programming in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

Here’s a look at festivals taking place in September and October that are supported by ASC grants, as well as some other community festivals. Admission is free unless noted.


Festival of India

When: Noon-7 p.m. Sept. 13-14.

Where: Belk Theater, 130 N. Tryon St., Charlotte.

What’s Happening: Presented by the India Association of Charlotte, the Festival of India showcases the diversity of Indian food, art, dance, music and Bollywood entertainment. There will be yoga demonstrations, henna tattoos available for festival goers, traditional dances in front of Belk Theater on North Tryon Street and more.

Admission: $5 online, $7 at the door, free for kids 9 years old and younger.


Festival in the Park

When: 4-9:30 p.m. Sept. 19, 10 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Sept. 20 and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sept. 21.

Where: Freedom Park, 2435 Cumberland Ave., Charlotte.

What’s Happening: For more than 50 years, this Charlotte tradition has been seen as the last push of summer and a celebration of the fall to come. Local artisans, bands and crafts of all sorts are presented in an outdoors fair-like atmosphere. Festival in the Park features 180 artists and craft exhibitors and nearly 1000 entertainers.


24th Annual Latin American Festival

When: Noon-8 p.m. Oct. 12.

Where: Symphony Park, 4400 Sharon Road, Charlotte.

What’s Happening: The 24th Annual Latin American Festival will feature internationally renowned musical performances from Colombian electro-tropical band Bomba Estéreo, Puerto Rican sensation and masters of contemporary bomba and plena Plena Libre, the Latin Grammy award-winning Panamanian Ska-rock group Los Rabanes and more. The festival also features traditional and contemporary dance performances, Latin food, a marketplace with authentic handmade crafts and a Plaza de Artistas featuring some of North Carolina’s best Latino visual artists.


Admission: $5, free for children 8 and younger.


‘Tawba Walk Music and Arts Festival

When: 2-8 p.m. Sept. 13.

Where: Oak Street Mill, 19725 Oak St., Cornelius.

What’s Happening: The community-inspired street festival will include 60+ vendors, eight bands, special performances, a kid zone, food trucks and local breweries.


39th Annual UNC Charlotte International Festival

When: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sept. 20.

Where: Barnhardt Student Activity Center at UNC Charlotte, 9201 University City Blvd., Charlotte.

What’s Happening: UNC Charlotte’s longest running tradition attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year to experience the sights, sounds, dances, food and cultures of the world. Visitors can wander through tents of brightly-colored displays, tasting authentic cuisine from around the world and enjoying an atmosphere of song, dance and story.


The Downtown Davidson Art Crawl

When: 6 p.m. Sept. 20.

Where: downtown Davidson.

What’s Happening: The crawl features the work of over 20 local artisans displaying and selling their handmade work ranging from fine art to functional art to wearables. Also featured are several live musicians, wine and beer tastings, food trucks and crafts for kids.


An Investment Worth Making: A Future Pop King?

9 Jul

By Scott Walker Cunningham
Davidson College Education Scholar

2014 Digital and Media Literacy Camp student Abekh El

2014 Digital and Media Literacy Camp student Abekh El

“Do you like your name, Abekh?”

“I don’t like it. I like Jackson 2.”

“Do you feel a certain way when you dance?”

“I just love dancing. And when I dance I feel like I’m famous.”

I overheard this hallway conversation between seven-year-old Abekh El and 17-year-old Morelia Trinidad as they collaborated on a 30 second film showcasing Abekh’s self-proclaimed dance skills.

The project was for a breakout session at Studio 345’s Digital & Media Literacy camp that Abekh enrolled in and Morelia worked at as an intern. Breakout sessions offer afternoon courses that students sign up for by preference, customizing learning experiences for participants. The options this time around included Claymation, piñata making, cup stacking, and movie making. Abekh and Morelia picked the last one.

Dressed in a dark, felt hat and leather shoes, Abekh spun around the room, liable to fling off his hat or spring onto his toes in a Michael Jackson-like manner at any moment. These moves were almost always accompanied by an impressive hip gyration. Once, he even moon walked the near quarter mile from 7th Street Market back to Studio 345.

During more sedentary activities, Abekh was often difficult to settle down. But in the white-walled hallway with cameras rolling, the setting seemed natural for him. Abekh came alive as the music echoed off the walls. He slid, spun, pounced, and clapped between beats. No one was telling him to sit down, and for six straight minutes he danced like the King of Pop was watching in the corner. It was beautiful.

Feeling the groove, Abekh shows off his best moves.

Feeling the groove, Abekh shows off his best moves.

While stories of young talent like Abekh’s are not rare, his opportunity to cultivate those talents in programs like Studio 345’s is much less common. Research shows that this proves true for both Charlotte and the nation as a whole.

The National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST) produced a report in 2009 on the benefits of and needs for afterschool programming. In 2006, “86% of the providers surveyed [by the Afterschool Alliance] said that children in their communities who need after school programs do not have access to them.”

The national statistics correspond on a local level as well.  In 2011, Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s Out of School Time Task Force reported around 28,000 of the 140,000 youth in Charlotte-Mecklenburg County (CMC) that were enrolled in afterschool programming.

They also found “an estimated 35,000 additional youth [that] could benefit from afterschool programs,” leaving only 44-percent of students in need enrolled in programming. The demand exists in the CMC community for more programming, but the supply seems short.

The benefits such programs have on students are well documented by researchers. NIOST finds that arts-focused afterschool programs “can increase academic achievement, decrease youth involvement in delinquent behavior and improve youth attitudes towards themselves, and others and their futures.” Despite these findings, the Out of School Time Task Force found only “10% of youth were enrolled in summer programs that year.…[and] an estimated 3,800 youth on waiting lists for free and subsidized programs.”

When the task force approached the listed afterschool providers about this unmet need, they found lack of financial support and shrinking subsidies as commonly cited factors. These providers, however, state that they could meet the needs of additional youth with better financial support, leading to stronger staff, better facilities, and larger enrollment capacities.

The afterschool sector needs both private and public support, but the apparent costs are not as taxing as they seem. Investors and citizens alike capitalize on the social benefits of better funded afterschool programming. Fight Crime: Invest in Kids notes how “[q]uality youth development programs can cut crime immediately into academic enrichment, wholesome fun and community service.”

There are also economic benefits in supporting education. NIOST notes the Rose Institute’s findings that “[e]very dollar invested in high quality afterschool programs save taxpayers on average $3.00.” The World Literacy Foundation also finds a 3.7% increase in long-term economic growth and 6% increase in per capita income for every year that the average level of education is raised, a demonstrated result of well-executed afterschool programming.  For anyone unfamiliar with economics, ask a banking friend. That sort of growth is significant.

Aside from the financial incentives, Teach for America-Charlotte intern, Nate Harding, illustrates the social responsibilities for all citizens in improving education opportunities for youth. “We are stake holders in the future of learning [….] Volunteer, donate, advocate – the form of support you choose to take is of little importance; what matters is that you take action.”

In Studio 345’s media lounge, Morelia edited Abekh’s video on Final Cut Pro, a skill acquired during her time at Studio 345. When I asked Morelia why she decided to enroll in the program two years ago, she said that in fourth grade, she and her cousin wrote screenplays for videos. She loved filming, and when she heard about the opportunity at the studio, she had to sign up.

“I felt lucky, you know? Not many kids get to run into things like this.”

Abekh sat beside her on a dark-leather bench. Both stared at the computer screen while she worked on the video’s transitions. Abekh jumped up from his seat every time he saw himself pounce onto his toes.

“That’s me! I did that.”

Constant mouse clicks ticked over the music like a metronome.

“Yeah,” said Morelia, “Lucky would be the word.”


Abekh giving all the right moves.

Abekh is by no means a criminal, but he's certainly smooth.

Abekh may not be the King of Pop (yet), but he already has some smooth moves.














Scott Cunningham is a rising junior at Davidson College with an interest in civic engagement, social entrepreneurship and the arts. His hobbies include creative writing, photography, acoustic guitar and most things athletic. He can be reached at

New leaders graduate into the cultural sector

2 Jul

By: Bernie Petit
Communications Manager

The Cultural Leadership Training (CLT) class of 2014 is poised to make its mark on our cultural sector.

Elizabeth Sheets of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Erin Pais of Wells Fargo Securities, Scott Martin of Wells Fargo Securites, Mary Ellen George of Carolina Healthcare System and Karen Cannon of Carolinas Healthcare System

Elizabeth Sheets of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Erin Pais of Wells Fargo Securities, Scott Martin of Wells Fargo Securites, Mary Ellen George of Carolina Healthcare System and Karen Cannon of Carolinas Healthcare System

On June 10, 2014, 30 of Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s emerging leaders graduated from the Arts & Science Council’s (ASC) innovative program designed to connect them with their cultural passion and prepare them to serve on boards of nonprofit organizations in Mecklenburg County.

At a ceremony on the stage of the Knight Theater at Levine Center for the Arts, the cultural grads celebrated the knowledge and skills they gained through the intensive, nine-month program.

With the graduation of the 2013-14 class, more than 280 CLT alumni have completed the program, many of whom are actively serving in leadership roles with local arts and cultural organizations, said ASC Vice President of Cultural & Community Investment Katherine Mooring.

“We are proud that, for nine years, this program has fostered talented leaders to support the cultural organizations that mean so much to our community,” Mooring said. “Each year we are amazed by the wide range of gifts, skills and knowledge possessed by the individuals who participate in CLT, as well as the depth of their commitment to supporting arts and culture in our community.”

Katherine Mooring of ASC, ASC President Robert Bush, Bob Bertges of Wells Fargo and ASC Board Chair and Piedmont Natural Gas Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Karl Newlin

Katherine Mooring of ASC, ASC President Robert Bush, Bob Bertges of Wells Fargo and ASC Board Chair and Piedmont Natural Gas Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Karl Newlin

CLT, described by a former graduate as “a backstage pass to all the cultural arts programs in town,” provides participants opportunities to deepen their appreciation of the sector, with cultural scavenger hunts and a “speed dating” session where they get to know local cultural organizations in a series of 10-minute conversations.

The emphasis, however, is on the legal responsibilities of boards, fundraising roles, arts advocacy, audience development, strategic planning, board/staff relations and how to be an effective board member. By equipping the next crop of local leaders with the tools to be productive volunteers and board members for cultural organizations, the entire cultural community stands to benefit.

“Cultural organizations gain board members and board apprentices who are better prepared to help them adapt, grow and succeed, which is important when you consider the challenges facing the cultural sector,” Mooring said.

Luke Volmar of Neighboring Concepts, Carolina Raptor Center Executive Director Jim Warren and Rober Hall of U.S. Trust

Luke Volmar of Neighboring Concepts, Carolina Raptor Center Executive Director Jim Warren and Rober Hall of U.S. Trust

The CLT program is supported in part through the generosity of Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein LLP. Now that CLT class of 2014 members have figuratively turned their tassels signifying their graduate, ASC looks forward to welcoming a new class in September.

Skyon Tryon signals rebirth of North Tryon Corridor

2 Jul

By: Bernie Petit
Communications ManagerIMG_3843

A subtle new temporary public artwork can be considered an early sign of the planned transformation of the North Tryon Corridor.

“Skyon Tryon,” created by artist Sheila Klein and installed the first week of June, is a public art installation on the underside of the I-277/North Tryon Street Bridge – the gateway into the corridor from uptown Charlotte.

If you’re in front of the McColl Center of Art + Innovation and looking away from uptown, you’ll see the bridge, located between 11th and 12th streets.

The horizontal ribs of the underpass were painted in a manner that forms a circle in the center of the space, or the sun of “Skyon Tryon.” The hue of blue used references the sky and helps define the volume of the space, according to Klein.

“This project serves to make you aware,” she wrote in her artist statement, “that the city is being developed as a new corridor to the north down Tryon, that pedestrian and bicyclists experience of the roadway is important.”

IMG_3924In 2013, the Arts & Science Council (ASC), in partnership with the City of Charlotte and McColl Center, commissioned Klein to create a public art project integrated within the future North Tryon streetscape project, which will be located just outside the I-277 loop and will include Charlotte’s first Greenroad (a certification similar to LEED for buildings).

In conjunction with the streetscape project, expected to begin in 2016, Klein was asked to create an interim work to serve as a more immediate sign of the revitalization taking place in the area.

It was an area with which Klein had become familiar. During her fall residency at McColl Center, she would walk the stretch between uptown and the underpass that connected it to North End – another name for the North Tryon corridor.

“The walk was short and very unpleasant,” Klein said. “This gave me the idea to begin the process of linking North Tryon to the center city.”

IMG_3945Klein’s atmospheric piece creates a brighter, cleaner, crisper place beneath the underpass. With the help of local contractors to complete the project – ProTec Finishes for the paint job and United Construction for traffic control – Klein also created a space that enhances the experience of those passing underneath.

“This art intervention is something to think about, to see and equally to sense,” she said. “My hope is that Skyon Tryon serves to expand the thinking about art, place and structures. Both what they are and what they can be.”

The temporary public art project is funded by a National Endowment for the Arts Our town grant and ASC. In-kind donors are United Construction and McColl Center. Supporting partners are NCDOT, the City of Charlotte and North End Partners.

“There have been a lot of things happening under the radar in North End,” said Tony Kuhn of Vision Ventures and North End Partners. This is a very visible sign of the future and the progress happening in the corridor.”


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