CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Feb. 25, 2022) — The City of Charlotte's
Arts and Culture Advisory Board on Tuesday approved a $35,000 grant to support the
"I Am Queen Charlotte" experience, scheduled for March 6-12.
Organized by two local artists — poet and storyteller Hannah Hasan and photographer and cinematographer Scott Gardner — the showcase will celebrate Black women in Charlotte through storytelling performances, spoken word poetry, an art walk, a book, a concert, film screenings, discussions, workshops and an educational curriculum.
The advisory board voted in favor because the program aligns with priorities for the Infusion Fund. Specifically, the program is:
A unique and new endeavor in Charlotte.
Multidisciplinary and collaborative, with individuals and organizations of all types supporting each other and working toward a common goal.
Accessible, with free and paid events held in multiple locations.
Organized by an experienced team of local artists.
Engaging a broad range of the arts community and community at large.
Paying artists appropriately for their work.
"I Am Queen Charlotte" is the first project supported by the Infusion Fund's new Opportunity Fund, which is part of a
strategy recently approved by the board for allocating more than $4 million in arts and culture funding in fiscal year 2022. For creative projects or initiatives that match the board's priorities but fall outside the parameters of its other funding, the board can use the fund to rapidly support opportunities as they arise.
"Creatives are always coming up with something, and those ideas and great opportunities rarely fall within set grant deadlines and schedules," said Tim Miner, board member and co-founder of Charlotte is Creative, at the board's Tuesday meeting.
Opportunity Fund money comes from the
Infusion Fund, a collaboration between the city, and private donors, represented by Foundation For The Carolinas, to support arts and culture over three years, while the city creates a more sustainable plan and long-term funding model for the local creative industry.
Hasan and Gardner first approached the city in the fall of 2021 to explore opportunities for funding, but no funding opportunities then existed. With the Opportunity Fund now in place and not wishing to miss the opportunity to support a robust and valuable project taking place in just a few weeks, the board supported the grant. It also directed city staff to draft and recommend a process and criteria for evaluating future Opportunity Fund requests — an effort to make sure the process is clear and accessible to requesters and all awards are granted fairly and transparently.
"We do need to create a framework over time," said board member, artist and educator Carla Aaron-Lopez. "But if we don't take advantage of this opportunity in this moment, to me it's just this old Charlotte all over again."
"As a funder in the arts that is sometimes very challenging to do: [articulating] why one group gets money and one group does not," said Charles Thomas, board member and Charlotte program director for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. "So being really clear on our guiding principles, on our rubric, on the measures for success, what we're trying to get to, is really important."
City staff will work with advisory board members over the next month to define a process for the Opportunity Fund.