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New ASC president discusses goals for 2010

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http://66.225.205.104/012910-JRASC.mp3

Charlotte's Arts and Science Council runs one of the largest and most successful cultural fund drives in the country. But last year, it came up more than $4 million dollars short, in part because of the recession and fallout from the United Way CEO pay scandal. This week, the ASC kicked-off its fund drive for 2010 with a more modest goal and the energy of a new leader: Thirty-three year old Scott Provancher took the job as ASC President last summer. When WFAE's Julie Rose sat down with Provancher in his office yesterday, he talked about the need to branch out in order to meet the campaign goal of $7.3 million. Scott Provancher is the President of Charlotte's Arts and Science Council. The group hopes to raise $7.3 million for local theaters, dance ensembles and museums in its annual campaign during the next six weeks. Julie Rose: Are you saying that the Arts & Science Council has been too narrow in its fundraising in the past in this campaign? S: Well, I think we've been extremely successful in the employee giving through ... mostly through major employers. The challenge is, particularly in an economy like now, when there's less employees, folks having to reduce staff and take lower pay 0 that is a hard communication channel to grow during a period like this, so I don't think that we were too narrow in focus. I think we need to think about, well, there's a lot of other people outside of just these employee campaigns that participate, engage and can appreciate what the arts and culture community does, and we just have to find more effective ways - and cost-effective ways -- to reach those folks. J: What percentage do you expect of the money that you will raise during this campaign will come from people who've never given to the Arts & Science Council before? S: We don't have an exact figure, but I do believe that new givers will end up being a driver for us and probably more importantly, kind of in that category of new givers are folks that have given to us in the past but maybe haven't in the last couple of years, and we really have a strong effort to try to re-engage individuals that have been involved with us in the past, and I think we will see lift in this year's campaign from bringing some individuals back into the fold, so we've been focusing on that quite a bit. J: One of the things I hear from people who do work at corporations that have these campaigns on a regular basis is that in some cases they feel strong-armed maybe, or coerced, there's an expectation at a certain level in the company, you give at a certain level. Is that just an effective way of getting money out of these campaigns or is that something that you plan to try and address? S: I think for our long-term sustainability it has to be addressed and I think that we've maybe, or companies have in the past focused more on the goal of getting a certain dollar amount versus goals of engaging people. What we're trying to do even in this year's campaign is work with the companies on the approach. Some of the challenges that we'vewe try to be as efficient as we possibly can and sometimes our efficiency makes us sterile and I think we have to take a step back and say, how do we touch people in a way that really connects with them? J: And what's your plan in terms of the relationships that you would like to have once you raised this money, with the agencies that you give grants to? You grant money to dozens of local organizations. Are those relationships going to look more like you look now with the symphony, where it seems to be very hands on, and the symphony has had to do quite a bit of fund-raising and reorganization in order to get that grant from the Arts & Science Council? S: Well, I think in these extraordinary times, it requires a very hands-on approach, depending on where an organization is, and how do we drive an overall sector that's successful, and so I think you will see, depending on the situation of various organizations, a very hands on approach, because ultimately we want them to be successful and sometimes that requires a real in-depth partnership and relationship that we've maybe not seen when we've all had a little bit more flush wallets in better times. J: I understand you are a musician as well. What impact does that have on what you do on a daily basis? S: Well, I think it's deep down inside it is where the passion comes from and up until towards the end of college thought I would be a classical percussionist, and so I think it just keeps me even more motivated and driven to be successful in this role. The ASC, I think, is at a pivotal point in its fund-raising model and how it is going to connect with people, and how it really helps the entire sector get through the challenging years that are ahead, and that's a very exciting opportunity. J: Thanks a lot for your time.