By Robert Busch, SVP, Cultural & Community Investment
Coming off a successful ASC annual fund-raising drive that raised $8.3 million, including $1 million to restore cultural education experiences for school children, many may think that all ASC has to do now is write the checks. However, that is not the case. We take our grant- making responsibility seriously, and next week that process begins in earnest for the year beginning July 1st.
But even while we are reviewing applications and panels are deliberating, ASC also will be monitoring the budget process at the state and local government level. Why? Because for over three decades, ASC has been designated by the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County as their ‘Department of Cultural Affairs.’ Unlike the vast majority of major cities across the US, Charlotte-Mecklenburg outsourced that responsibility to the ASC long ago. Funding from ASC to support everything from operating grants to our major institutions to project funding for neighborhood after-school programs comes from a mix of private funds, endowment earnings, and funding from the City, County, Mecklenburg County Towns and the State of NC. ASC is a true public/private partnership, and, even with the ups and downs of the economy, it is seen as a national model for how a community can best support its cultural infrastructure.
ASC Board members and field experts will gather Tuesday morning, April 26, to begin the review of operating-support applications for FY12. Before they arrive, they will have read written applications and attended performances and exhibitions. Tuesday, they will make site visits to our small and mid-size operating support organizations. Wednesday, they will put all the pieces of the puzzle together, scoring and ranking all applicants on the following criteria:
- Excellence and innovation,
- impact and customer service, and
- leadership and sustainability.
Based on the applicant scores and ranking, the panel will make recommendations for funding to the full ASC Board. Beginning the week of May 2, the grant-making process moves to project funding, and a similar process will be used to make recommendations to the ASC Board for project grants.
However, everything will be conditional until the City, County, Towns and State approve their budgets for FY12 and ASC knows exactly what resources we have to award. As our local “Department of Cultural Affairs,” ASC is a steward of the generosity of our donors and of the tax funds that are provided to us to support the vibrant cultural life of Charlotte-Mecklenburg.