2021 Candidate Questionnaire – Town of Mint Hill
Get ready for Election Day and meet the candidates running for office in Mint Hill.
Each candidate running for election in 2021 in the Town of Mint Hill was provided a five-question survey to complete and share their position on arts and culture. Below are the verbatim responses we received, grouped by question.
1. Personal Perspective
Can you tell us about a time arts, science, or history helped you connect with your community?
BEVERLY BLAKE CANNADAY: I took saxophone and guitar lessons in school and I was in the choir in school and at church. Music has been a wonderful part of my life. I enjoy all types of music.
TWANNA HENDERSON: I started college as a dance major. I have always had a connection to my community through the art of dance and even started a dance ministry at my church, in order to allow others to experience their faith through the ministry of dance.
TONY LONG: Mint Hill Historical Society has educated me on the hard work of pervious generations allowed us to enjoy a prosperous community. Sacrifices and dedication to Mint Hill by others makes a good area with high quality of life
RHONDA WALKER: I’ve had several wonderful experiences with Arts, Science and History that has help me connect with our community. The Mint Hill Arts Studios were located in the same building as my fitness training studio for many years. I often had the opportunity meet the artist and patrons in the hallway. Art was often displayed. Having the opportunities to connect with this group of very young art students all the way to meeting individuals attending art shows and making purchases left a wonderful impression on how ASC is valued and needed in our community.
2. Arts & Culture Priorities
ASC’s 2020 Community Priorities Survey, conducted in partnership with UNC Charlotte Urban Institute, gathered input from over 1,900 county residents reflecting a wide range of community voices (racial, ethnic, age, socioeconomic, geography, etc.). The top priority for both North (41%) and South (37%) Mecklenburg residents was support for nonprofit arts, science, and history organizations to ensure sustained, high-quality programs and community outreach. Other top responses include celebrating diverse cultures and neighborhoods and using arts, science, and history programming as a tool to address complex community issues. Further, the Imagine 2025 Cultural Vision Plan included Town Hall visioning sessions that found that North and South Mecklenburg residents rated their desire for activities closer to home at a very high level, 88% and 86% respectively.
Entering Fiscal Year 2022, the City of Charlotte overhauled its approach to cultural funding, divesting from ASC and partnering with Foundation For The Carolinas and Charlotte’s private sector to “restore the health of uptown Charlotte” and provide “cultural and educational opportunities for visitors to Charlotte as well as residents” (Charlotte Business Journal, May 3, 2021). As a result, ASC ended its largest grant making program, Operating Support grants that supported large, mid-sized and small organizations (including Carolina Raptor Center, Davidson Community Players, Matthews Playhouse of the Performing Arts, and Mint Hill Arts). While the city creates its cultural plan, a commitment has been made by the city to fund those groups for this fiscal year. It is important to understand that ASC will continue to support those organizations, along with new and emerging groups and creative individuals, through other ASC grant programs and capacity building efforts. To learn more about Artist Support Grants, Cultural Vision Grants, Culture Blocks, Emerging Creators and Creative Renewal Fellowships, School Funding Opportunities (currently on hold due to public funding cuts), and Technical Assistance Grants, click here.
ASC’s aim is to serve all residents of Mecklenburg County, the city of Charlotte and the six suburban towns, by providing free, high quality cultural programming that is diverse, relevant, resident-informed, and available to all. We intentionally center community, start with partnership (create with, not for), and advocate for equitable distribution of government funds. In each of the six towns, ASC cultivates experiences and cultural programs that engage residents, increase access, and foster community.
How will you work to creatively address community issues, celebrate our culturally diverse neighborhoods, and bring cultural activities closer to home? What are your arts and culture priorities for your town, and how do you intend to pursue those priorities if elected? (ex: advocate for increased investment, attend cultural events or Culture Blocks programs, volunteer to sit on a grant review panel, or connect with your town’s appointees to ASC’s Advisory Councils)
BEVERLY BLAKE CANNADAY: Continue with the cultural events in our downtown area and work to expand events. Currently the ASC, in cooperation with the town of Mint Hil,l suppor Family Fun Nights.
TWANNA HENDERSON: Connect with my town’s appointees to ASC’s Advisory Councils.
TONY LONG: Connect with various art and cultural groups to stay aware of needs and challenges they face Am available to sit on a panel as needed which always pays dividends in heighten sensitivity to a group Continue our efforts to touch many levels and groups in Mint Hill
RHONDA WALKER: My goal as a Mint Hill Commissioner would be to continue to support the arts in our community. The town of Mint Hill just recently gave monies to support The Mint Hill Arts and as an ASC supporter; I will carry on the tradition.
3. Commitment to Cultural Equity
Community Ties: Understanding What Attaches People to the Place Where They Live, an in-depth study published by the Knight Foundation and Urban Institute in May 2020, reports that a community’s residents’ access to arts and culture not only boosts feelings of satisfaction and lifestyle fit, but also correlates with greater investment of time and resources in that community. This investment metric includes participation in local activities, attending public meetings, owning a home or local business, donating, and volunteering.
Easy access to arts and cultural activities is reported by people in low-income households less frequently (67%) than by those in high-income households (78%). Additionally, only 64% of African American residents and 66% of Hispanic residents report easy access to arts and culture, compared to 74% of white residents and other racial and ethnic groups. In the Charlotte-Mecklenburg metropolitan area, arts and cultural activities are perceived as the fourth most difficult quality feature to access in our community, after affordable housing, transit options, and job opportunities.
ASC recognizes that systemic, inequitable access to opportunity has led to generations of unjust outcomes for those who have been historically marginalized in mainstream arts and cultural funding, discourse, leadership and resource allocation. We strongly encourage all who serve or seek to serve our community to read ASC’s inaugural Cultural Equity Report, which reflects the steps – and missteps – we have taken on our journey to becoming a more equitable organization and holding ourselves accountable to the community.
How will you join ASC in actively addressing inequities in access to arts and culture? How do you view ASC’s equity work in alignment with your town’s goals around cultural equity?
BEVERLY BLAKE CANNADAY: Arts and Science are important to the town. I would like to bring more emphasis of the benefits of ASC in Mint Hill and expand our cultural growth as the town grows.
TWANNA HENDERSON: As a person of color, I believe that access to arts and culture in each community is crucial. There is still lots of work to be done. I’m open to learning how I can help address inequities.
TONY LONG: Mint Hill desires and works toward a fair environment for all aspects of the population. Understanding that historically this has not been true
RHONDA WALKER: Sadly Mecklenburg County is riddled with poverty and with Covid related issues many families are hurting even more. Many families cannot afford not only the money but more importantly the time for Cultural Activities. Many students will benefit more from cultural opportunities during school hours or school field trips. It’s important to make events accessible to students especially students from lower incomes during school hours and school field trips. On weekends having hours available that are free on certain days, during certain hours for all students and families.
4. COVID-19 Impact, Recovery and Renewal
ASC’s 2020 COVID-19 impact survey showed that more than 90 percent of local artists have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 and experienced a loss of income. Charlotte-Mecklenburg arts and culture organizations receiving Operating Support through ASC experienced revenue losses between March 2020 and June 2021 totaling $49.7 million. Not only has the financial impact of COVID-19 on the sector restricted capacity to serve residents, it has also deeply impacted the livelihood of Mecklenburg’s creative workforce and the economic future of local creatives and cultural sector employees.
Mecklenburg County’s COVID-19 Recovery and Renewal Task Force’s proposed recommended actions include increasing support for artists and the organizations that support them (expand Culture Blocks funding for artist employment; community arts centers in challenged areas; increase ASC funding for arts equity, inclusion, access; develop strategy for artist housing), prioritizing cultural awareness (expanded diverse worker recruitment, cultural competency training, patient service and cultural survey, culturally based health education modules), and empowering people with information through health-themed neighborhood art. Other recommendations include expanded mental health support and resources for substance abuse treatment and care, both of which are community needs heightened by the pandemic and which ASC supports through cultural programming.
As a town official, how will you consider, utilize, and support the workers of the cultural sector at this critical intersection of health, economy, and community? Which of the Mecklenburg COVID-19 Recovery and Renewal Task Force’s proposed recommendations align with your goals as a civic leader?
BEVERLY BLAKE CANNADAY: Outdoor events
TWANNA HENDERSON: Advocate for Funding for ASC
TONY LONG: Believe it critical we adjust to Covid environment and makes needed investment in energy and funding to maintain a positive direction
RHONDA WALKER: As a business owner that has been impacted by Covid, I can relate with the artists in our area. As a Commissioner I will most definitely consider, utilize and support workers of the cultural sector.
5. Per Capita Funding
In 2014 the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Cultural Life Task Force developed research-based recommendations for specific actions to establish long-term support for and healthy growth of our community’s cultural sector. One of these recommendations was that Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville, Matthews, Mint Hill and Pineville increase their investment in Arts & Science Council to $1.30 per capita. Analysis of municipal funding allocations in Fiscal Year 2018-2022 shows that the six towns’ average per capita annual investment in the work of ASC ranges from $1.06 per resident to five cents per resident (Davidson – $1.06, Matthews – $0.85, Pineville- $0.84, Mint Hill – $0.36, Cornelius – $0.22, Huntersville – $0.05). ASC is committed to serving residents in each corner of the County in a balanced, equitable manner, but receives objectively imbalanced funding support from town to town.
To what extent do you support public funding of arts, science and history programs through town funding to the Arts & Science Council? Will you support a plan to increase municipal funding for ASC’s work to $1 per town resident; why or why not?
BEVERLY BLAKE CANNADAY: Yes
TWANNA HENDERSON: This is something that I would be open to considering.
TONY LONG: Would consider higher funding based on a review of why we are where we are at the present. We should address funding as needed
RHONDA WALKER: As a commissioner I will support the arts, science and history programs. We should also ensure that enough groups are made aware that there is funding available and the process should be easily assessable.
The following candidates up for election in the Town of Mint Hill did not submit a response:
Brad Simmons, running for Mayor, Town of Mint Hill
Dale Dalton, running for Commissioner, Town of Mint Hill
Scott Fandel, running for Commissioner, Town of Mint Hill
Patrick Holton, running for Commissioner, Town of Mint Hill
Richard (Fig) Newton, running for Commissioner, Town of Mint Hill