The Next, Next Best Thing

Categories: ASC, ASC Projects, Blog

By Robert Bush, Senior Vice President, Cultural & Community Investment

In June, I blogged about ASC selecting this first round of Cultural Innovation Grant recipients – Carolina Actors Studio Theatre (CAST), Charlotte Artery and Charlotte Viewpoint.  Again this year, through the support of a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, ASC is able to invest in building the capacity of emerging arts and cultural organizations by providing both financial resources and technical assistance through engaging an executive coach to work with board and staff through this process.

I am pleased to announce that last week ASC approved the second round of recipients of this new kind of support, a key objective of ASC’s 2008 Strategic Plan.  Our new Cultural Innovation Grant recipients are:

Charlotte Folk Society – As Charlotte Folk Society begins its 30th year, we marvel at how this all-volunteer organization continues to successfully realize its mission of promoting the ongoing enjoyment and preservation of traditional and contemporary folk music, dance, crafts and lore.  They serve the community and operate in a financially responsible fashion.  But in so doing have always relied on a small group of individuals with passion, skill, a willingness to “make” time, and do “whatever it takes.”  That formula for success is not easy to replicate; burnout has always been a challenge, and there is no guarantee that they can continue under that model.  Sustaining the Charlotte Folk Society, so that they are here, relevant, effective and important for another 30 years is our shared goal.  This grant will provide funding and breathing room while they alter their operating structure to take pressure off the all-volunteer workforce and board.

Historic Charlotte – Charlotte – North Carolina’s largest city – has a unique and complex history.  And yet, it is not often recognized for the diverse historical resources it offers.  This grant will allow Historic Charlotte to leverage technology to greater support its mission of preservation advocacy in the greater Charlotte region, and to expand its reach to a much larger and more diverse audience.   Funding will move forward the implementation of a Technology Plan including three key efforts – a new website, digitization of Historic Charlotte’s five self-guided walking and driving tour brochures, and an electronic communications system establishing Historic Charlotte as a central hub and starting point for all things history and preservation in the region. These three things will benefit not only Historic Charlotte but the general history and preservation community as well.

On Q Productions – On Q Productions was founded in 2006 by Quentin “Q” Talley.  Filling a unique space in Charlotte’s theatre community, On Q Productions’ mission is to produce classic, contemporary and original performance works that reflect the minority experience, especially that of the African-American. Over its three seasons, the company has produced works ranging from For Colored Girls to Day of Absence to In the Blood with all receiving critical acclaim. This emerging theater company is making its mark locally, nationally, and internationally.  Funding from this grant will allow On Q Productions to move towards fiscal and organizational sustainability by meeting two key needs in their  new 2011 – 2013 Strategic Plan:  to retain marketing/sales expertise to  drive ticket sales and thus increase earned revenue; and identify a space for basic operations.

Each of the recipients will received $30,000 in financial support over 2 years along with an executive coach to help them navigate this transformative experience based on benchmarks that they set with ASC.

ASC thinks that through these innovation grants, we will build on the success for our first, three Cultural Innovation recipients and see more from Charlotte’s ‘next best things’!