By Jeep Bryant
“Welcome home. There is much to be done.”
Over the past few days, many of ASC’s partners and community leaders have thrown open their arms to welcome me back to Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The warm greetings have reminded me of the energy and enthusiasm that drove the region’s growth throughout my childhood and early career here.
The enthusiastic welcomes have also reflected a sense of great urgency and concern for the path ahead. Every conversation has underscored how critical it will be to create sustainable sources of support for our cultural community. It’s a challenge that is more pressing than ever before. In this moment, we have important work to do and no time to waste.
We know that arts and culture play an essential role in the economic vitality and quality of life in cities and counties across the country. From the highly-regarded institutions that are the foundation of Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s cultural life, to the emerging organizations that reflect our changing population, all require strong support to serve new and diverse audiences.
There are compelling needs in our public schools to connect students to arts, science and history programs that enrich their academic experience and broaden their perspective of the world around them. We also have a responsibility to celebrate and help build the capacity of smaller, diverse organizations – and innovative artists and culture creators – to fully realize ASC’s commitment to cultural equity. That means that our commitment to equity must be reflected in all of our investments, governance, and administration policies and practices.
I’m heartened by the stories I’m hearing of the impact ASC’s cultural investments have made in the lives of residents across the county. It has been encouraging to hear about the cultural organizations we support, both large and small, that have achieved success in expanding access to their programming and reaching all corners of Mecklenburg County.
I also need to hear what isn’t working, what important needs are still unmet, and how ASC needs to change and evolve to ensure a sustainable future. I will be listening intently, and I will value the input from all who care about the impact we can create.
Yes, it is great to be home, and it’s time to get to work.
We’d love to hear from you. Send your comments, questions and suggestions for Jeep to firstname.lastname@example.org.