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Charlotte Area News

ASC Warns Of Additional Cuts Without New Funding

Arts and Science Council
The Arts and Science Council has seen its fundraising decline. It says it may have to reduce the number of grants it distributes.

The Arts and Science Council said Thursday that it will have to continue to cut its operating budget and reduce its operating grants if it doesn’t secure more funding. 

In November, Mecklenburg voters rejected a new quarter-cent sales tax that would have funded the arts – as well as parks and education.  After the tax was defeated, the Arts and Science Council laid off four employees, as part of a 15% reduction in its operating budget.

ASC president Jeep Bryant now says the organization may reduce its $5.9 million operating grants budget in the upcoming year -- unless it receives more funding from the city or the county, as well as corporations and individual donors.

"If our efforts to secure additional resources aren’t successful, the funds available for ASC grants would decline by as much as 50% in the coming cycle," Bryant said. 

Those grants provide money to 33 organizations, like the Mint Museum and the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, to smaller organizations like the Charlotte Art League and the Carolinas Aviation Museum.

The ASC says that, in the past few years, the organization has been spending money from endowments at an unsustainable rate. 

With the tax defeated, the ASC’s chair, Valecia McDowell, says it can no longer do that. She told Mecklenburg Commissioners last year that the ASC was facing a funding crisis.

"This is the consequence, right?" McDowell said. "So now we’re at the place where we’re getting to the first funding cycle where we’ll be dealing with that reality."

The ASC plans to ask the city of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County for additional funding in their upcoming budgets. The city last year gave the ASC $3.2 million. The county gave $1.2 million. The county's money is restricted for specific purposes.

The group says that additional operating expense budget cuts are also a possibility.