Community Priorities for Arts & Culture

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Why This Matters: ASC continues to listen to and learn from the community to better understand arts and culture priorities in order for the sector to serve them.
Performers at Hola Charlotte, a community festival that takes place in uptown.
Performers at Hola Charlotte, a community festival that takes place in uptown.
By Katherine Mooring
Senior Vice President, Community Investment

ASC believes arts and culture are for ALL, and we strive to make investments that impact and nourish a sustainable and equitable ecosystem for arts, science and history. Spurred by a commitment to cultural equity, we are constantly working to ensure arts, science and history program offerings are accessible, relevant, and purposefully serve all Mecklenburg County communities, neighborhoods and residents.

One of ASC’s primary strategic objectives is to engage the entire community in setting priorities for the work of ASC and our cultural partners. To that end, we are pleased to share the results of a recent research effort to better understand community priorities related to arts and cultural investments in our community, as well as explore ways ASC can more effectively serve organizations and individual creatives who look to us for support.

In partnership with the UNC Charlotte’s Urban Institute and with additional funding provided by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, this research effort was designed to maximize participation over a relatively short period of time (January – March 2020) through user-friendly tools and multiple platforms of engagement, including open houses at community-based venues and events across Mecklenburg County. The results reflect feedback from a wide range of community voices (racial, ethnic, age, socioeconomic, geography, etc.).

Results from the Community Priorities Survey indicate that respondents had diverse opinions about funding priorities. The largest share of respondents (33%) prioritized support for nonprofit arts, science, and history organizations to ensure sustained, high-quality programs and community outreach. Other top priorities included annual field trips (selected by 32% of respondents) and programs that celebrate diverse cultures and neighborhoods (selected by 31% of respondents). A quarter or more respondents also prioritized: Using arts, science and history programming as a tool to address complex community issues (29%); Afterschool and summer arts, science/STEM and history youth programs (29%); More affordable arts, science and history experiences (29%); Arts, science/STEM and history programs that enhance the classroom curriculum (27%); and, Opportunities for individual artists and creative entrepreneurs to be economically sustainable (25%). We invite you to read the full report for additional insights and learnings.

We are incredibly grateful to the nearly 2,000 Mecklenburg County residents from across the county who shared their perspectives through the survey, the community partners who opened  their spaces for open houses, the artists who animated those spaces, and the organizations and creatives who participated in the mapping sessions.

We hope that the final report helps to generate new energy and ideas for how both new and existing supporters can come together to chart a course for the road ahead. Results will also provide important feedback to support local arts and cultural providers in more effectively responding to community needs and desires through their own programs and services.