Tag Archives: ASC

Cultural sector needs leaders – and ASC provides them

19 Jul

By Bernie Petit
Communications Specialist

With the enormous funding challenges the Charlotte-Mecklenburg cultural sector is facing, it helps to have leaders prepared to guide arts organizations through whatever lies ahead.

That’s where the Arts & Science Council (ASC) is continuing to make a difference with its Cultural Leadership Training (CLT) program. The CLT program, which coaches emerging leaders to serve on boards of nonprofit organizations in Mecklenburg County, recently received recognition in an article from Americans for the Arts, a national nonprofit organization or advancing the arts and arts education.

Sheila Mullen, Chief Empowerment Officer at Continuous Motion Consulting, joined the board of the McColl Center for Visual Arts after graduating from the CLT program in 2008 and will soon be the organization’s board chair. She told Americans for the Arts how the CLT program provided her with an informative overview of the local arts scene.

“It was like getting a backstage pass to all the cultural arts programs in town,” Mullen told Americans for the Arts. “I was well-prepared to be a board member, and knew what my roles and responsibilities were.”

Katherine Mooring, ASC Vice President of Cultural and Community Investment

Katherine Mooring, ASC Vice President of Cultural and Community Investment

The nine-month, hands-on training program continues to be a way for the cultural sector to identify new leaders, said Katherine Mooring, ASC Vice President of Cultural and Community Investment.

“With the graduation of the 2012-13 class, we have placed nearly 250 graduates of this program in board or committee leadership roles with local arts and cultural organizations,” Mooring said. “We are so proud that the program continues to identify, cultivate and engage such a passionate and committed volunteer leadership base for our cultural community.”

Graduates find their place in cultural sector

2 Jul

By David Currence
Marketing Manager 

ASC Immediate Past Board Chair Linda Lockman-Brooks, ASC Cultural & Community Investment Vice President Katherine Mooring, Cultural Life Task Force Co-Chair Valecia McDowell and ASC Interim President & Chief Innovation Officer Robert Bush at the Cultural Leadership Training graduation.

ASC Immediate Past Board Chair Linda Lockman-Brooks, ASC Cultural & Community Investment Vice President Katherine Mooring, Cultural Life Task Force Co-Chair Valecia McDowell and ASC Interim President & Chief Innovation Officer Robert Bush at the Cultural Leadership Training graduation.

There were no gowns or tassel-adorned hats, but graduation day for ASC’s Cultural Leadership Training (CLT) program was no less memorable.  On June 4, 2013, 31 of Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s emerging leaders gathered on the stage of the Knight Theater at Levine Center for the Arts to celebrate the knowledge and skills they acquired during CLT’s intensive program.

When asked what the graduation means for participants, ASC Vice President of Cultural & Community Investment Katherine Mooring said, “It’s a great way to celebrate their passion and dedication.  They’ve gained a richer understanding of and deeper commitment to the cultural community through educational sessions and cultural events over the past nine months, and now, they’re ready to put that knowledge to work in leadership roles across the cultural sector.”

Empowering new leaders with best governance practices and a deeper understanding of the cultural sector have always been CLT’s main goals.  By equipping talented participants with the tools needed to be productive volunteers and board members for cultural organizations, the entire community stands to benefit from cultural organizations that are better equipped to adapt, grow and flourish through strong internal leadership.  “They’re taking the gifts, skills and knowledge they use in their daily professions and learning how to apply them in new ways to guide and enhance cultural organizations,” said Mooring.

Just like most new graduates, CLT grads were biting at the bit to find positions through which they could apply their newfound knowledge, and thanks to CLT’s innovative cultural “speed dating” session (conducted in February) where cultural organizations “speed date” CLT participants via a series of 10-minute conversations to identify good matches, all of the graduates have found active roles within the cultural community.

As ASC bids farewell to the CLT Class of 2013, we look forward to welcoming a new class in September.

ASC to L.I.F.T. learning experiences for year-round schools students

2 Jul proejct lift

By Bernie Petit
Communications Specialist

Thanks to the Arts & Science Council (ASC), the learning won’t have to stop for students at the four Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools year-round schools.

Last month, Project L.I.F.T. awarded ASC a $1.2 million grant to deliver free arts-infused programming to Pre-K to 8th grade students during intersessions at Bruns Academy, Druid Hills Academy, Thomasboro Academy and Walter G. Byers School. proejct lift

Project L.I.F.T. is the philanthropic initiative to accelerate academic achievement for children in Charlotte’s west corridor. The grant will allow ASC to potentially serve more than 2,800 students at the Project L.I.F.T. schools during intersessions, or two- to three-week breaks, in the 2013-14 continuous school year, which starts July 22 for Druid Hills and Thomasboro and July 23 for Bruns and Byers.

The ASC Scholars Academy will utilize science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics, or STEAM, programming that aligns with the core missions of their schools during time periods when positive gains could be lost, said Dr. Barbara Ann Temple, ASC Vice President of Education.

“Why we’re so interested in this is because it is allowing us to provide opportunities where students are making a connection from their in-school learning time to their out of school time,” Temple said. “Instead of them having this wonderful in-school thing going on for months and then going on break and losing their momentum, we’re going to step in and really fill the gap. And it’s going to be that creativity gap because we believe that the arts are transformative.”

Each scholar will experience four residencies – Visual Art, Performing Art, Digital & Media Literacy, and Writing. A “community as campus” approach will be used to enhance programming. ASC will partner with Discovery Place, for example, to offer a wider range of STEAM activities.

“The Arts & Science Council isn’t going to do this alone,” Temple said. “We’re going to be reaching out to the community partners and sharing with them our plans for the ASC Scholars Academy and how they can perhaps be able to help us achieve our mission.”

Teachers from these schools can apply to fill instructor positions for up to 52 academy classrooms and will be eligible for professional development credits and stipends for each session attended.

“They will be able to go back to school right after their intersession period,” Temple said, “and teach these units of study that they would have seen in action throughout the camp.”

A million dollars worth of power2give

2 Jul 9095-ASC-Pwer2Give_logo_exp_rv9

By Bernie Petit
Communications Specialist

What does a million dollars mean to the cultural community?

It means the Chamber Ensemble of the Charlotte Children’s Choir made good on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to perform at the White House.
It means the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art continued an arts program for homeless adults and families.
It means students from Northwest School of the Arts traveled to Nebraska to perform at the International Thespian Festival.

And it means power2give.org, the online fundraising platform for the arts in 18 communities across the U.S., works. The site, created by the Arts & Science Council and launched in August 2011, has surpassed the $1 million mark in funding for Charlotte-Mecklenburg projects.

9095-ASC-Pwer2Give_logo_exp_rv9“For a brand new initiative that’s not even two years old to have created or stimulated over a million dollars of investment back into the cultural sector, I think it’s meaningful, it’s measurable and it’s really just an opportunity to pause and celebrate and then start looking at how we are going to continue to raise the next million,” said Laura Belcher, national director of power2give.org.

Nationally, the crowdfunding site has raised more than $3.1 million by connecting donors directly to the arts and cultural projects they care about. Locally, more than 3,300 individual donations and matching gifts from corporations and foundations have allowed for 300-plus projects to be completed.

Visitors to power2give.org can search for projects by choosing a cultural organization or category. Once they find one that matches their interests, they can give to it directly through the website.

The direct giving component has resonated with donors that may not have given otherwise, Belcher said. Forty-four percent of those who sponsor projects on power2give.org are new donors.

“Because the site is designed for project fundraising, it articulates where the donor’s funds are going to go in a very intimate way,” she said.

Almost 70 local organizations have posted projects on power2give, signifying more groups are eager to find innovative ways to expand their reach, Belcher added.

“It is a new way of articulating and storytelling of the impact of the arts in the community,” she said. “It’s appealing to donors, both those who have supported the cultural sector for a long time and to new donors.”

Public art to signify change along North Tryon corridor


By Bernie Petit
Communications Specialist

It’s too early to compare the North Tryon Business Corridor to historic South End, the bustling urban neighborhood south of uptown Charlotte.

But that’s the type of long-term growth public art created in conjunction with the North Tryon Business Corridor streetscape improvement project could help encourage.

The Arts & Science Council (ASC), in partnership with the City of Charlotte and McColl Center for Visual Art, has commissioned artist Sheila Klein to create artwork to compliment the streetscape project, which will include Charlotte’s first Greenroad (a certification similar to LEED for buildings), just outside the I-277 loop.

Sheila Klein

Sheila Klein

Klein will develop permanent artwork, as well as temporary art and engagement projects, to draw attention to the potential urban agriculture center envisioned for the area.

“I think this all ties together and that’s what the community has been telling us,” said Tom Russell, project manager for the city’s North Tryon Business Corridor team. “They want to rebrand the area. We want this to be a destination.”

That’s where Klein, who calls Bow, Wash., home, comes in.  With a background in architecture and art, her expertise is in creating spaces where people want to be and want to see.

Her permanent artwork and temporary pieces in the North Tryon Business Corridor will hopefully serve as a catalyst for civic experiences that would not happen otherwise, she said.

“It feels like the edges are pushing out there and things are being connected,” Klein said. “This is going to be one of those things that threads it all together.”

Indeed, the corridor is poised and ready for growth, said Tony Kuhn of Vision Ventures and North End Partners, both of Charlotte. Kuhn was a member of the committee that selected Klein for the project.

The Greenroad will be located along the corridor from Dalton Avenue to W. 30th Street/Matheson Avenue. The project will be adjacent to the Lockwood, Graham Heights and Tryon Hills neighborhoods; the 30th & Atando and Rosedale areas; and the Intown & Railroad Area – generally bounded by I-277, Graham and North Tryon streets, Dalton and Matheson avenues and the railroad tracks along Brevard Street.

The permanent public artwork will be one of the first physical signs of the change happening in the area, Kuhn said.

“It’s symbolic,” he said. “This is going to be one of the starting points of the revitalization of the neighborhood so we want to make sure residents and the community is engaged so everyone takes ownership of the change that’s coming.”

Klein has already sought out community input to better understand the corridor and the people that live there. She will develop and refine her concept for the streetscape project in the coming weeks. Her permanent artwork is expected to be completed this fall or winter.

“I really try to learn as much as I can about the place itself – the position of the site, the physical attributes, the goals of the projects, the limitations – and then I try to expand upon what is possible and try to make connections between things,” she said. “I try to make an experience that is really special and unique to that place.”

Staff members from ASC and the City of Charlotte discuss the North Tryon corridor project with residents.

Staff members from ASC and the City of Charlotte discuss the North Tryon corridor project with residents.

ASC and the City of Charlotte were awarded a $100,000 National Endowment for the Arts Our Town grant to support the artwork and place Klein in residence at the McColl Center through November. The grant supplements funds allocated from the city ordinance that appropriates one-percent of eligible capital improvement funds for public art.

‘Least Likely Friends’ Finds a Friend in ASC

3 Jun Least_Likely_Friends_180

LLF CASTBy Donna Scott
Executive Producer, Donna Scott Productions

Donna Scott Productions and Civilized Films are thrilled to have the support of an Arts & Science Council Cultural Project Grant for the current theatre project, “Least Likely Friends,” a new play by Charlotte playwright Tonya Bludsworth.

Non-musical theatre productions typically cost an average of $12,000-$15,000 and up to produce in Charlotte. These grants provide much needed financial support to offset a portion of the costs and give us the ability to provide a professional theatrical show experience for our audience. Identification the ASC provides when supporting a project like ours certainly aids us with publicity and ticket sales and is incredibly helpful when premiering a brand new play by a local playwright. The ASC has also been a great resource for marketing and publicity avenues that are so important to early ticket sales and have given us a real boost.

As independent theatre producers, we often ‘rely on the kindness of strangers (our friends within the theatre community) to help us with elements of our productions. It would be truly difficult to realize the playwrights vision and have a successful production of a new work, like the one we are
currently producing, if the generous opportunity of these grants did not exist.

To see Least Likely Friends and experience the fruits of our partnership with ASC, click here to get more information purchase tickets. “Least Likely Friends” is produced in partnership with Theatre Charlotte (501 Queens Road) and will run June 12-15 and June 19-22 at 8pm and June 16 at 2pm. Tickets are $25-27 and are available at Carolinatix.org or via telephone at 704-372-1000. The June 12 show will feature a post-show opening night reception with the writer/director Tonya Bludsworth, as well as the cast and crew.

#myculturallife: The cultural sector’s search for a new funding model

31 May write-on-chalkboard

By Kristopher Steele, MPA
ASC Planning and Innovation Manager 

In Search of a New Funding Model
For nearly 40 years, Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s cultural sector has been supported through a public-private fundraising model that includes running fundraising campaigns in the workplace and partnering with local and state government to earn and raise the necessary dollars that support cultural institutions, such as the Mint Museum, Carolina Raptor Center, Levine Museum of the New South, Blumenthal Performing Arts and Discovery Place among many others. The money raised is also invested in individual artists, neighborhood projects and arts, science, history and heritage education programs for school children.

This model of private fundraising and public funding has worked well, and throughout the years, Charlotte-Mecklenburg has witnessed an extensive cultural growth. We have seen the Cultural Facilities Master Plans of 1976 and 2004 create a ‘cultural mile’ along Tryon Street in Uptown Charlotte from McColl Center for Visual Art to the new Levine Center for the Arts.  Surrounding towns have also increased their cultural amenities. Additionally, new programs and public art have popped up all over the city and county as a result of the public-private partnership.

However, throughout the past decade, annual funding for the cultural sector has changed and is impacting the progress of arts and culture in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

In fact, since 2002, private sector giving to ASC’s Annual Fund Drive has wilted from $11.6 million to $6.5 million. In similar fashion, local government funding has been reduced by 25% to $6.2 million. This downward trend has happened while Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s population continues to grow by leaps and bounds and the demand for quality arts and cultural experiences increases. Research as part of the forthcoming Cultural Vision Plan shows strong citizen interest in more accessible and relevant programming, innovation, and cultural education.

The Cultural Life Task Force
As leader of Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s cultural sector, ASC along with its public and private partners, is tackling an important community-wide issue: finding a new, healthy and sustainable funding model for the cultural sector.

This work will be done through the Cultural Life Task Force, a 21-member group representing the following organizations: City of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, Foundation For The Carolinas, The Greater Charlotte Cultural Trust, Charlotte Chamber, Charlotte Center City Partners, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, University of North Carolina Charlotte, Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority.   The task force is chaired by Valecia McDowell, an attorney with Moore & Van Allen and Pat Riley, president of Allen Tate Company.

The task force will begin their work in June 2013 and will likely present their recommendations in January 2014.

How you can engage (#myculturallife)
I encourage you to engage with this important work. From attending public meetings to connecting with us through social media, there are a variety of ways you can learn about the cultural sector and participate in the process.

The first-round of public meetings will take place from 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. at the ASC (227 W. Trade St., Suite 250) on the following dates:

  • Monday, June 10
  • Monday, June 24
  • Monday, July 15
  • Monday, July 29

You can also connect with the task force through ASC’s Facebook page and Twitter Feed using the hashtag, #myculturallife.

The cultural sector is a major player in driving the economy, supporting jobs and more importantly, enhancing our quality of life.  With the work of the Cultural Life Task Force and your help, we will create a new and healthy funding model that will sustain the cultural sector for years to come.

Students Celebrate Studio 345 and Spread the Word

31 May Studio Celeb 1

JasmineBy David Currence
Marketing Manager

Exhausted from a full day of classes at West Mecklenburg High School and an unusually long wait for the bus, Jasmine Santos still has a warm smile as she exclaims “The bus was over an hour late,” to her patient-yet-anxious instructors at Studio 345.  It’s an hour before the Mecklenburg County Commissioners meeting, and Jasmine, along with several other students, quickly collect themselves, so they can go to the meeting and share something close to their hearts – their love for Studio 345.

The day prior, they concluded Studio 345’s third trimester with a celebratory gallery exhibition, film screenings, and musical performances at McGlohon Theater in Spirit Square.  While it also represented the finale of Studio 345’s inaugural year, for many of the students, it’s just the beginning of a lifetime of opportunities they never knew existed before attending the program.  “Studio 345 has done a lot for me,” Jasmine states as she briskly walks through Uptown Charlotte toward the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center.  “It taught me photography techniques, and I’ll use them as a hobby and when I become a professional cosmetologist.”

During the celebration, students in the digital photography track of the program shared amazing still phoStudio Celeb 2tos captured during their weekly expeditions in Uptown Charlotte and surrounding neighborhoods.  They also displayed poignant head shots of residents in Edwin Towers, a CHA-governed high-rise facility for the elderly that is also located in Uptown Charlotte.  Using various digital editing software and careful instruction from Studio 345’s teaching artists, students were able to create visual artistry that left the evening’s viewers in awe.  Similarly, many Edwin Towers residents that were photographed attended the celebration and were ecstatic upon seeing the final results of what one resident called her “glamour shoot.”

Not to be outshined, students in the digital media track of the program gave the celebration’s attendees amazing performances Studio Celeb 3that featured original songs (lyrics and music) and showcased the students’ talent through both musical and vocal instruments.  They also shared a dynamic short film they created themselves.

A day later, Jasmine and the other students exude humble confidence and youthful energy as they approach the Government Center.  Much of their persona can be attributed to their natural character before they enrolled in Studio 345, but a portion of it is directly related to what they gained from the program.  That was the aim of the Arts & Science Council (ASC) and its partners when they created the program based on a model where “environment shapes behavior.”

In the final steps before entering the Government Center, when asked what single suggestion she would give to improve Studio 345, Jasmine’s answer was simple, yet profound: “Make room for more students to join each trimester.  There are people in my school that want to get in really bad.”  In that statement, she surmised the mission of both her and her fellow students when they address the County Commissioners’ – that everyone must be told how Studio 345 is positively changing the lives of students at-risk of not graduating in Mecklenburg County, and it must not only continue, it must grow.

This time, the voice in the field of corn was ASC and its invaluable partners.  We’ve built it, and they want to come.

Help Stop Potential Statewide Arts Budget Cuts

31 May Capitol

Capitol 2On May 19, the North Carolina Senate released its 2013-2015 state budget recommendations, which included debilitating cuts to the North Carolina Arts Council.  In addition to administrative cuts, the Senate proposed a $500,000 cut to the grants program in 2013/14 and a $780,000 cut to the grants program in 2014/15.  What is even more unsettling is that the potential acceptance of this recommendation by the North Carolina House of Representatives will represent a 37% reduction to the North Carolina Arts Council’s state funding since 2008.

If you think that doesn’t sound like it hits close to home, then think again.  The North Carolina Arts Council’s grants program reaches organizations in all 100 counties in North Carolina, and in 2013, it provided $937,000 solely to Mecklenburg County arts organizations.  A reduction in that type of funding will definitely be felt by everyone in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

It is imperative that the North Carolina Arts Council be funded at its current annual level of $7,413,423 to ensure no county (especially Mecklenburg) loses arts programing due to budget cuts.  Therefore, it is time to make our voices heard by the Mecklenburg representatives that will be responsible for shaping appropriations for general government.  Those individuals are Speaker of the House Thom Tillis and Representative Carla Cunningham who is on the appropriations subcommittee for general government.

Keep the budgetary heat off of the arts.  Please call or send an email to these representatives, and tell them to keep the North Carolina Arts Council funding at its current level so that all residents of North Carolina can continue to enjoy and benefit from the many facets of the arts. 

Click here for more information and talking points.

Click the link below to log in and send your message:


Have You Visited the ASC Education Network (ASCeducation.org)?

3 May asceducation.org

asceducation.orgBy David Currence, Marketing Manager

The Arts & Science Council (ASC) has launched the ASC Education Network (ASCeducation.org) – a resource for teachers, students and families concerning all things cultural education in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.  The ASC Education Network is a one-stop destination to find important news, relevant topics, cultural activities, as well as professional development and grant opportunities.

To make navigation within the site intuitive and easy, it is divided into four focus areas: Educators, Students and Families, Teaching Artists and Cultural Partners.  Each area allows visitors to quickly find the information that directly pertains to them.

The site is managed by highly-qualified educators, and it gives visitors access to the latest culturally-related information from Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District (CMS).  Events posted on Charlotte Culture Guide, a directory of teaching artists and information about out-of-school youth development programs can also be found on the site.

As an added bonus for teachers, the website also features an educators-only section in which they can upload cultural education lesson plans and discuss relevant education topics in a forum.

“The ASC Education Network is a go to source for information on cultural education in our community,” said ASC Vice President of Education, Barbara Ann Temple, Ph.D. “We look forward in the coming weeks and months to the collaboration and idea generation we expect from the network.”

ASC is proud that its partnership with CMS is strengthening our community’s educational system, and the ASC Education Network is one of many projects that will continue to solidify this great partnership.


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