By Robert Bush, Senior Vice-President, Cultural & Community Investment
Three times in the past 40 years, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community has engaged in a planning process to chart the course for our local art, science and history community. The first cultural action plan in 1976 lead to institutions and facilities the community now holds dear – Spirit Square, Discovery Place, the Afro-American Cultural Center (now the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture), the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, as well as the Arts & Science Council we know today. 1991’s plan resulted in the increased annual private sector fund raising as well as the 1995 endowment campaign that now forms the core of the Greater Charlotte Cultural Trust. In 1998, the plan called for increased program funding at the neighborhood and community level as well as more emphasis on individual artists and adding history to ASC’s mission. These plans have served our community well.
Today, residents of Charlotte-Mecklenburg believe vibrant cultural opportunity not only nourishes the creative spirit in all of us, but connects us to each other and makes Charlotte-Mecklenburg a better place. When people love where they live the level of pride is deep and attachment to the community strong. When people are attached to their community they are more vested in its growth and prosperity. We believe a vibrant cultural life is an essential ingredient in Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s future prosperity.
Earlier this year, ASC, in its role as cultural planner for Charlotte-Mecklenburg, launched a cultural visioning process to find new ways to make Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s cultural opportunities more valued and more vital to all those who live and visit here. Our work began by defining in what ways Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s cultural life could, and should, grow stronger. These three challenges emerged as our primary focal points.
- How can Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s cultural opportunities become more relevant and valuable in the lives of all residents and visitors?
- What can be done to see that all Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s creative enterprise thrives?
- How do we continually expand the impacts of a healthy cultural sector?
From January to March of 2011, 184 Charlotte-Mecklenburg leaders representing business, tourism, education, philanthropy, and economic, neighborhood and community development participated in seven visioning sessions. Now, we need your input to prioritize the themes which have emerged thus far. CLICK HERE and spend 15 minutes answering a few questions. Share this link with your family, friends and neighbors and encourage them to share their thoughts as well.
In November and December town hall meetings will be convened across the county. Additionally, all Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s residents will be invited to participate in a highly publicized online survey. The wisdom of the public will ensure energy and resources are being focused in the right areas.
Guided by community leaders, informed by comprehensive public inputs, and designed with the ingenuity of the cultural sector, the cultural vision plan will be presented by ASC in March 2012. It will include the cultural sector’s and ASC’s roles as well as what assistance and resources will be required. Following adoption by ASC, the plan will be presented to Mecklenburg County, the City of Charlotte and the Towns of Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville, Matthews, Mint Hill and Pineville for adoption.
Make sure your voice is heard!