Why This Matters: ASC’s Cultural Leadership Training program develops emerging leaders into productive volunteers and board candidates for arts and culture organizations in Mecklenburg County.
By Bernie Petit
ASC Cultural Leadership Training program graduate Dylan Brown joined the board of directors of Charlotte Art League in 2017 at a pivotal moment.
“I was brought on in June, got married in July that year and when I came back from my honeymoon, I got the email saying (Charlotte Art League’s) lease is up,” he said.
Redevelopment forced the nonprofit art gallery and studio space to leave its home in Charlotte’s South End, where it had been for more than two decades. It settled into its new home in NoDa – as anchor tenant of the Station House mixed-use development on East Sugar Creek Road, along the Blue Line light rail extension – in October 2018.
The move allowed Brown, who works for Barringer Construction, to use his professional expertise to navigate the cultural organization through the transition by helping Charlotte Art League anticipate and minimize costs associated with the move.
“We were moving and had no experience in the commercial real estate world, how to up-fit a building or even what to look for while visiting potential new homes,” said Charlotte Art League Executive Director Cindy Connelly. “Because of his knowledge of building codes, actual hands-on construction and the patience of a saint, we accomplished as much as we have today.”
ASC’s Cultural Leadership Training (CLT) program, designed to develop emerging leaders into productive volunteers and board candidates for arts and culture organizations in Mecklenburg County, prepared Brown to assume a leadership position early in his board tenure.
“I don’t think you can ask for much better than what was provided in the CLT program,” Brown said. “I think people that go through the program come out with a new understanding of what it actually is like to be on a board and can understand clearly the reward and impact it can have on a community.
“You get a new vision of what the needs are out there. You can see the desperate need for really good volunteers and specifically really good board members to help grow the arts in the city.”
During the nine-month, hands-on training program, participants visit local arts, science and history organizations for a behind-the-scenes look at their operations and learn the financial and legal obligations of board membership, fundraising, advocacy and board and staff relations.
At the conclusion of the program, sponsored by Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein LLP, graduates are placed in board or leadership roles with local arts and culture organizations.
More than 400 CLT graduates have moved on to serve cultural organizations since the program was established in 2005.
“I feel the leadership program gives these potential leaders the tools they need to be valuable assets to any board lucky to have them,” Connelly said.
Brown said his company connected him to the program and sponsored his CLT fees.
“The mindset has always been if there is no community, there is no business, so the stronger our neighbors are, the stronger our friends and family are, the stronger our business will be,” he said. “That’s very deep-rooted in the culture of Barringer.”
Being on the board of a cultural nonprofit not only allows Brown to develop leadership skills that translate to any industry, but it’s helped him expand his network.
“My most rewarding feeling,” he said, “has been being able to make new friends with people that I never would have encountered otherwise.”
Be a Cultural Leader
The application process for ASC’s 2019-20 Cultural Leadership Training program class is now open. The submission deadline is Thursday, June 20, 2019 at noon. Learn more and apply.