Decreased funding for Charlotte Arts and Science 

By: Tyria Bourda – Carolinian Reporter

Due to Charlotte City Council’s recent decision to cut funding for Charlotte’s Arts and Science, artists like Marcus Kiser now wonder if his grant will be affected. According to its February 27th agenda, the city council wants to “diversify funding” by allocating those dollars to “programs based in city-owned facilities.” Kiser, a local multimedia designer, has received ASC grants in the past therefore this news came as no surprise because, he said, art programs are usually the first programs to get defunded. 

“So I noticed, that’s the first thing that they cut from, you know, public schools and things like that,” Kiser told The Carolinian. “I don’t think art is prioritized anymore, even though I think it’s a big part of the culture.”

Knowing of all of this, many residents are left wondering how this decision came about. In June 2022, City of Charlotte’s Arts and Culture Advisory Board awarded $2 million to the Arts and Science Council, including the $950,000 for operational support and $1.06 million for the organization’s direct-to-artists and arts organizations funding. Whereas just last month, Charlotte City Council voted to cut operational support which includes staffing, technology and equipment. 

ASC President Krista Terrell shared with us that she had speculations about why the decision was made knowing that the Charlotte Arts and Culture Plan remains incomplete. “It’s kind of all over the place. [At one point, they [said] ‘Oh, this is about restoring the health of uptown Charlotte and organizations and city owned facilities, but then it’s talking about Charlotte-Mecklenburg. It is all over the place.” said Terrell 

ASC Public relations and marketing director, Bernie Petit shared with us that they are deeply disappointed in the city council’s vote. The arts and culture advisory board was created to distribute funds from the Infusion Fund and provide stability for the cultural sector for three years (Fiscal Years 2022-2024). 

“ASC has received operating support dollars for the first two years of the Infusion Fund. This decision by the City Council changes the course in the final year of the Infusion Fund and goes against a key tenet of its Arts and Culture Advisory Board, which is “Do No Harm.” said Petit. “Since the creation of the City’s Arts and Culture Advisory Board, ASC has been a partner to help invest in the sector. It will continue to partner with the Arts and Culture Advisory Board in the final year of the Infusion Fund.”

Local artists took to social media to voice their reactions; some were unsurprised, and others were disheartened. Visual artist Chadwick Cartwright says that while he understands funding needs to be diversified, there needs to be a plan for exactly how the city council will redistribute those dollars.

Local creatives commented under one post saying: “I am stunned at this decision by our city council and would really like to understand how this decision could possibly make good sense for our city and our artists,” said another.

That being said, people are wondering; what’s next? Terrell shared with us that ASC will continue managing the city’s public art programs.  “ASC’s operations are not 100% reliant on the city of Charlotte for funding,” Terrell said. We’re doing our best to not cut staff and we are really doing our best to double down on fundraising. ASC is Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s Local Arts Agency. Its role is to support the broader cultural sector and provide funding and services to strengthen the sector culturally, socially, educationally and economically. ASC does its work with intention, inclusivity and equity at its core. ASC is proud of the amazing work its team does to support creative individuals and organizations of all sizes across the community.”

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