By Robert Bush
In my first message to donors and the community as President of ASC, I described ASC’s vision of “a vibrant cultural life for all,” articulating our promise of providing access to arts and culture for each of our fellow Charlotte-Mecklenburg residents.
The theme of access has dominated my tenure – from establishing Culture Blocks to serve deep in neighborhoods; funding the operations of our beloved major and emerging arts, science and history organizations; supporting projects that expand our ability to build community and bridge difference; commissioning works of public art that inspire and amaze us and challenge us to think differently; and funding equipment and training for artists and recognizing the amazing creativity of individuals across the spectrum of their careers.
Each and every day, I have held that principle of access as my guide.
This is my last message to you that I will write before I retire. It has been the high point of my 45-year career to have joined ASC’s team in 2000, and to have had the opportunity to lead this amazing organization since 2013. I am proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish. But, I did not accomplish any of this alone.
I have been so fortunate to have had many partners – board members, elected officials, donors, advocates and those that simply love this community’s cultural life. The opportunity to work with each of you has been an amazing experience. Together, we have planned and built, faced challenges and seized opportunities, and bridged differences while uncovering old wounds that still must be healed.
My retirement will not change ASC’s mission. There is still much to be done. I believe that each of us was given a point of access that drives our passion for opera or dance or science or history to this day. It may have been that box of 64 crayons or chalk and a piece of concrete. It may have been wading in a creek and catching crayfish or tadpoles. It may have been learning to play the clarinet in middle school band, our parents coaching us through a Suzuki violin lesson or singing in the church or school choir. It may have been digging in the dirt, not knowing we would find a piece of forgotten history or unearth our own family tree.
Or, it may have been going on a class trip to hear the symphony, experiencing the wonder of snow falling on stage during “Nutcracker” or being in the school play. However it happened, without someone providing or allowing that first access to the transformative power of the arts, sciences or history, we may have never discovered the joy and learning that a vibrant cultural life provides.
Now, we must stand up for the critical role that arts and culture plays in our community – by attending, giving and sometimes voting to ensure that the legacy we were given is not only here for future generations but is also expanded to include new voices and expressions too long left out.
I’ll look for you on the front lines.