By Sara Simmons
Public Sector Liaison
Nearly 30 Charlotte-Mecklenburg community leaders and students took the bus to Raleigh last month to advocate for the arts.
It was part of the annual ARTS Day, a two-day event where arts advocates come together to promote the arts. The event, held May 20-21 in Raleigh, allowed individuals to engage in arts-related seminars and performances and meet directly with state legislators to emphasize the importance of the arts.
Sharing their stories with legislators in Raleigh were representatives from the Arts & Science Council (ASC), Community School of the Arts, Charlotte Symphony, UNC Charlotte, UMAR, and Martha Connerton/Kinetic Works, as well as staff members and students from ASC’s Studio 345, the out-of-school youth development program for 9th through 12th grade students.
While in Raleigh, Charlotte-Mecklenburg community members divided into teams to meet with legislators about how the arts have affected their lives and community. Students that met with Sen. Jeff Tarte, R-Mecklenburg, went on a behind-the scenes tour of the Legislative Building.
Other students shared their personal stories with legislators, engaging elected officials in deep conversations about the impact the arts have had on their lives. Rep. Charles Jeter, R-Mecklenburg, was so impressed with the Studio 345 students he spoke with that he offered to write each of them a letter of recommendation to the college of their choice.
In addition to participating in legislative meetings, Bria Alexander, a 12-year-old Community School of the Arts student, sang on the portico of the legislative building with her dad, Fred Alexander, on keyboard. Bria wowed the crowd with her big voice, as onlookers were amazed with the young girl at the microphone. Several legislators even took the time to step out of their busy offices to enjoy her spectacular voice.
ASC staff, local students and Charlotte-Mecklenburg community members made a strong showing at this year’s Arts Day, said Studio 345 instructor Sean Beck.
“What a great, productive, awesome, super fun day with everyone!” Beck said. “I truly feel like we made an impact out there with our legislators.”
Arts Day provided an impactful experience for all involved and we hope to keep the momentum of our advocacy efforts going. To join our advocacy campaign, where you too can have your voice heard by your legislators, sign up for VoterVoice here: https://www.votervoice.net/charlottearts/register.