Local artists demand transparency, push back on Charlotte’s new plan on arts funding

Adam Bell
·2 min read

Over 130 artists and other community members on Tuesday demanded that they be included in controversial Charlotte City Council plans to drastically change the way arts and culture groups are funded.

Last week, City Manager Marcus Jones recommended that the city take over arts funding from the Arts & Science Council, which has managed the funding process for decades. Jones’ plan would see the arts and cultural groups receive $12 million per year from the public and private sectors — a 50% hike from a proposal the council has been considering.

The Foundation for the Carolinas would administer the money. And the city would hire a temporary arts commissioner and create an arts board of advisers to help develop a long-term plan for arts funding.

A vote on the new city budget is expected in mid-June, and the arts funding plan would be part of that.

On Tuesday, in announcing its demands of city council, the local artists and others said in a news release, “Artists and Community Members in multiple sectors support the demands in hopes of seeing an open, transparent, and equitable process.” Their demands include:

Separate the budget vote for this year from a long term conversation about how to invest in and grow arts and culture in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

Increase funding for the ASC to invest in its cultural equity work, local creatives and organizations of all sizes through funding opportunities and capacity building efforts. (In February, the ASC apologized for what its role in perpetuating and worsening inequities against Blacks and other minorities through its funding decisions over the years.)

Develop/provide physical space for creatives and small organizations to work in their creative practice at a low or no cost outside of uptown.

Ensure that organizations in the county will maintain funding for all of the arts organizations, programming and individuals like those that do not reside in the city.

ASC concerns

Meanwhile, the ASC repeated its objections to what the city is doing.

In a blog post Monday from ASC board Chair Susan Patterson and Acting President Krista Terrell said they supported the city’s efforts to increase arts and culture funding.

But they said they were “deeply disappointed” that the city developed recommendations without seeking public input from individual artists, creative organizations, residents or the ASC.

Mecklenburg County, however, does not plan to shift its funding away from the ASC, according to commissioners board Chair George Dunlap. He told the Observer last month, “We have no desire to create a new organization to do what ASC already does.”