Designated Public Funding


The Cultural Sector Has Never Fully Recovered from the 2008 Great Recession

Since the 1970s, ASC and its cultural partners have operated under a model that drew financial support from both public and private sources.  However, in recent years, changes in both corporate and individual giving practices (primarily through the workplace) – and the uncertain nature of year-by-year allocations from local governments – have made that long-standing model unsustainable.

The workplace giving model to support the cultural sector has been hemorrhaging since the 2008 economic downturn.  ASC grants have declined 48 percent and continue to drop, impacting ASC’s work to support major and emerging institutions and individual artists.

If this problem is not solved, the cultural sector will collapse.

In 2014, the Cultural Life Task Force called for a reliable, long-term public funding source. Recently, ASC convened a study committee to find the best path to ensure cultural equity and financially support the sector. The study committee determined that the best path is in the form of designated public funding. The recommendation is a portion of an existing quarter-cent sales tax throughout Mecklenburg County (as authorized in 2009 by the N.C. General Assembly) with the cultural sector receiving 1/10th of a penny, which would be an estimated $20 million. The use of the remaining portion of the quarter-cent would be determined by the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners.

This new funding would entirely replace dollars raised by ASC, including the annual fund drive and budget allocations by local governments.

To secure designated funding, the Mecklenburg County Commissioners must agree to put the issue before voters for approval. With public funding comes a mandate for complete transparency in how and where the money is spent.  The cultural sector makes that commitment in seeking a designated revenue source.

ASC’s Board of Directors has asked the commissioners to work with them and other stakeholders to determine the best path to secure a stable funding platform to ensure the community’s quality of life and economic prosperity.

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