By ASC President Jeep Bryant
I’m writing to update you on the steps the Arts & Science Council (ASC) is taking to secure funds that support cultural organizations and creative individuals across Charlotte-Mecklenburg.
ASC has devoted increased focus and resources toward our fundraising efforts over the past couple of months and we appreciate all who have pledged their financial support, particularly in the wake of the November referendum campaign. The next few months will be critical as we continue to fundraise and begin planning for future grant cycles. We are working diligently to advocate for the needs of the cultural sector with business leaders and foundations. In addition, this is the time of year when the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County begin planning for the 2020-2021 fiscal budgets which begin July 1. Both will be considering and debating requests for increased investment in arts and culture.
We must balance optimism and realism in giving guidance to the organizations and individuals who rely upon ASC for funding. We need to be realistic about the impact we will see if funding doesn’t increase, while working as hard as possible to earn additional support. If our efforts to secure additional resources aren’t successful, the funds available for ASC grants will likely decline as much as 50-percent in the coming fiscal year. We will also be forced to make significant, additional cuts to ASC’s expense budget. We took action in November to reduce staff expenses at ASC, and we will continue to be nimble in light of the challenging funding environment.
Any improvement in our outlook for the grants budget will be contingent on how discussions proceed with various funders—including corporations, foundations, local governments and individual supporters—over the coming months.
Investments in arts, science, and history have proven to be economic drivers for this region and are critical to our community’s quality of life. We have heard from so many of you who share our passion to invest in a more dynamic, more equitable ecosystem for arts and culture. At a recent public hearing at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center, all of us were moved by Tommy Nichols, founder of the Charlotte Black Film Festival, who captured what’s at stake by saying, “Art gives hope, and helps those without dreams dream again.” We couldn’t agree more, which is why we are more committed than ever to ASC’s mission of Culture For All.
Thank you for joining ASC, our partners and supporters to preserve and expand our investments across Charlotte-Mecklenburg. We will keep you updated on our progress.