Task Force Discusses Future Of Arts Funding
Many of Charlotte’s largest arts organizations are in financial trouble. Funding from the Arts and Science Council is down and groups must figure out where money will come from in the future.
Recently, a task force formed to help out. The Cultural Life Task Force met Monday at the Arts and Science Council offices, and discussed, among other things, whether the Arts and Science Council is necessary.
The Arts and Science Council works as a sort of arts broker. Individuals and companies give the Arts and Science Council money, and the Council gives it to arts and cultural groups in the form of grants.
In the past, the model was a way to streamline funding. Donors could go to one place with their money versus being approached by hundreds of arts groups. And the arts groups too didn’t have to spend their time approaching donors. This does bring in donors that groups would not engage otherwise, but Executive Director of the Mint Museum says the model can also get in the way of forming relationships with their donors.“There is a group of folks within that body of givers to A.S.C. that also have the potential to support the organizations directly. And because of the way the system works it is, I believe, difficult to engage with those folks, get to know them, thank them, because there is a middleman. It’s the ASC.”
But the Arts and Science Council also helps groups pay for an un-sexy cost : operating expenses. “Corporations, individuals, government, no one wants to fund operations,” says Pat Riley, co-chairman of the task force. “We’re all sitting in this room saying who funds operations there’s nothing fun about funding operations.”
Valecia McDowell, the other chair of the task force, worries that ‘un-tethering’ some organizations from ASC support could be fatal. “Would we actually let those other organizations that were not nimble enough, that did not have the facility to convert what relationships they had to sufficient dollars, would we let them die on the vine? Because if you begin to untether, there are consequences of that.”
The task force will continue discuss these consequences in public meetings on July 15 and July 29, 3-5 pm at the Arts and Science Council boardroom, 227 W. Trade ST. Suite 250, Charlotte, NC 28202.
This story is produced through the Charlotte Arts Journalism Alliance (CAJA), a consortium of local media dedicated to covering the arts.