Cultural Leadership Training

ASC’s Cultural Leadership Training (CLT) Program is designed to identify emerging leaders and help them develop into productive volunteers and board candidates for cultural organizations across our community.

During a nine-month period, participants gain a deeper understanding of the cultural community through classroom educational sessions, cultural events and programs, and placement with a Mecklenburg County cultural organization as either a one-year apprentice or as a full-term board member at the conclusion of the program

The application process for the 2019-20 class has concluded. Applications for the 2020-2021 class will be available in Spring 2020.

Participants: Approximately 30 emerging leaders living and/or working in Mecklenburg County.

Eligibility: Participants must live or work in Mecklenburg County, N.C. Current or prior members of boards of directors for Charlotte-area nonprofit arts, science and history organizations are not eligible for this program. Current staff members of nonprofit arts, science and history organizations are not eligible for this program. ASC provides other training opportunities for existing board and staff members serving area arts, science and history organizations. Visit Workshops & Training for more information.

Selection Process & Criteria: Class members are chosen by the CLT Selection Committee, which seeks participants representing a wide range of diverse backgrounds, perspectives, experiences and geographic distribution across Mecklenburg County. Committee members review and score all paper applications and then schedule interviews with finalists. You will be notified in early July whether or not you have been selected as a finalist. The Committee will choose approximately 30 participants for the class, and all finalists will receive written notification of the Committee’s decision by mid-August. The Selection Committee is ultimately looking for individuals who are prepared to accept leadership roles as volunteers within arts and cultural organizations. As such, criteria for admission to CLT include demonstrated leadership abilities, strong personal initiative and motivation, and the ability to work well on teams that include varying viewpoints. Candidates should also have a strong commitment to the arts and/or other cultural disciplines.

Time Commitment: The program runs from September through May and requires approximately 32 hours over nine educational sessions held at arts and cultural venues; board observations; social gatherings; and a culminating graduation event. At the end of the program, ASC places graduates on a board of directors as either an apprentice (typically a one-year term) or as a full-term board member, personally working to find a good fit of interests and skills.

Admission to this program is extremely competitive and, as such, success of the CLT program depends on the full commitment of each participant to attend all program sessions, arrive on time and participate fully. While we recognize that emergencies do arise, more than two unexcused absences will result in dismissal from the program and forfeiture of tuition.

Program Fee: $1,000 for corporate professionals – $750 for nonprofit professionals or full-time volunteers. Partial scholarships are available and will be awarded based on need.

FAQ’s about the CLT program

Who runs the CLT program?

CLT is run by the Arts & Science Council of Charlotte/Mecklenburg (ASC) and is the only program in the region that specializes in training and placing community members on boards of nonprofit arts and cultural organizations.  ASC staff members plan and execute all aspects of the CLT program, with assistance from staff and board from Charlotte-area cultural organizations as well as CLT alumni.

Organized in 1958, ASC serves as the designated “Office of Cultural Resources” for the City of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County and six suburban towns by combining resources from local and state government with those of the private sector to provide advocacy, cultural education programs, cultural planning, fundraising, grant making, public art and workshops and trainings for the cultural community.

How does the CLT program work?

It’s a hands-on training experience, including nine educational sessions led by board and staff from local cultural organizations. Sessions are held at different arts and cultural venues and usually incorporate a site tour or experiential activity and guided discussions/Q&A about key issues facing the nonprofit cultural field. Most sessions are designed to showcase a particular discipline (visual art, history, performing arts) and introduce participants to the depth of program offerings in our community as well as educating them about key roles, responsibilities and challenges of board members.

As a primary program outcome, ASC facilitates placement of each class member on a board of directors as either an apprentice (typically a one-year term), committee member or as a full-term board member, personally working to find a good fit of interests and skills. CLT alumni also receive continued mentoring and support from ASC staff.

What do the training sessions cover? The program provides thorough and rich training with a limited number of participants to promote more effective learning.  Sample topics include: an overview of ASC and Charlotte’s cultural sector, risk management, legal and fiduciary obligations of the board, crash course in fundraising, understanding nonprofit financial statements, community engagement, board/staff relations, advocacy, and finding the right fit for your own board service.

Which organizations will accept CLT graduates on their boards? CLT alumni have joined organizations like the Charlotte Symphony, Children’s Theatre, Clayworks, Carolina Voices, McColl Center for Art + Innovation, Festival in the Park, Levine Museum of the New South, Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Community School of the Arts, Sustain Charlotte, Jazz Arts Initiative and many others.

Why is there an attendance requirement? Admission to this program is extremely competitive and, as such, success of the CLT program depends on the full commitment of each participant to attend all program sessions, arrive on time and participate fully. Considering that there are only 9 sessions over 9 months, missing just 2 sessions is equivalent to missing more than 20 percent of the program. Given this requirement, if you are not able to commit to attending the scheduled sessions (i.e. you have frequent, unexpected personal “crises” that disrupt your schedule or your job includes considerable travel, etc), it may not be in your best interest to apply.

Is the program free? Because this is a serious training program, there is a fee of $1,000 for corporate professionals and $750 for nonprofit professionals or full-time volunteers.  ASC evaluated similar programs elsewhere in the country as well as comparable leadership development programs here in Charlotte when determining our fee structure. Many employers underwrite the cost because of the obvious value to the individual, the company and the community relations that the program builds; however, partial scholarships are available and will be awarded based on need. In the event a scholarship is not available, we are also willing to work out payment plans with participants on a case-by-case basis. Please see the application form for additional information.

What CLT alumni have to say about their experience in the program…

  • My participation in the CLT Program prepared me to become an effective board member of a not for profit organization. The program also introduces you to many not for profit organizations so you can make an educated decision on where you will fit best as a board member. By going through this program, you will be sought after to participate on boards in the Charlotte area. – Josh Pittman, Grant Thornton / Board Member, Theatre Charlotte
  • My participation in the CLT Program allowed me to truly identify where my passion lies and where I want to spend my volunteer time. Going into the program, I was sure that I knew what type of organization I wanted to join, but after being exposed to the numerous organizations across the county, I found one whose mission truly spoke to me. I ended up in a smaller organization that targeted a different audience than I’d been seeking initially. I am now very engaged in the organization and dedicated to helping achieve its mission. Thanks to the CLT Program for providing me with access to such a diverse group of organizations! – Chrystal Joy, The Lee Institute / Board Member, The Possibility Project
  • As a native Charlottean, I thought I had a really strong grasp of the arts and cultural offerings in Charlotte. I was wrong…dead wrong.  ASC’s CLT program blew me away. Each session introduces you to a new facet of Charlotte’s vibrant cultural community through informational lectures and hands-on experiences. The CLT program invigorated my passion for the arts and community service. The program not only prepared me to serve on the board of an arts and cultural organization, it opened my eyes to see the power of art in my community. – Tiffany Waddell, City of Charlotte / Board Member, ASC
  • Although I had lived in Charlotte for many years, I never took the time to contribute to the cultural community. Participating in the CLT Program opened my eyes to the many cultural organizations in the Charlotte region and prepared me to be a board member for an organization I am very excited about. The CLT program was fun, and I met a lot of really cool people by participating in it. – Bernadette Donovan-Merkert, UNC Charlotte / Board Member, Community School of the Arts
  • The ASC’s CLT program is an invaluable asset and provides immeasurable benefits to participants, nonprofit organizations and the Greater Charlotte community. The CLT program develops and supports the next generation of civic leaders and goes a step further to provide opportunities for board service that might not otherwise be available. Through the CLT program, I was able to gain my first true board experience and subsequently have the opportunity to serve on many other boards, including boards of state and national organizations. I am so grateful for this program and recommend it to everyone. – Brandon Neal, Wells Fargo / Board Member, Bechtler Museum of Modern Art

View the Program Overview


Additional questions? Contact Katherine Mooring at 704-335-3039 or