CHARLOTTE, N.C. (March 14, 2022) — The City of Charlotte Arts and Culture Advisory Board has taken a major step to enable at least one local arts and culture organization led by and for people of color to access dependable funding for years to come.
Unrestricted, long-term funding has been among the most difficult to obtain for arts and culture organizations, especially BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color)-led and -serving organizations. To help fill this gap, the
advisory board voted on March 8 to allocate $200,000 from its Opportunity Fund to Atlanta-based
South Arts, a regional arts nonprofit serving nine states in the southeastern United States, including North Carolina. The city’s allocation will enable at least one Charlotte-area BIPOC arts and culture organization to join South Arts’ first cohort of
Southern Cultural Treasures grant recipients.
“When you're thinking about the type of support that organizations need to both have stability and also be able to plan ahead and grow, this type of support is really key,” said the city’s
arts and culture officer, Priya Sircar at the board’s Tuesday meeting. Sircar and advisory board members also noted the significance of bringing regional and national financial support into Charlotte to complement local funding sources.
The advisory board committed to funding one local organization’s participation with $200,000 from the
Opportunity Fund, a flexible source the board uses to support creative projects and opportunities as they arise. The Opportunity Fund is part of the
Infusion Fund, a collaboration of public and private donors to support arts and culture in the Charlotte area over three years.
Two local BIPOC arts and culture organizations are being considered to receive financial capital and other resources over multiple years through the Southern Cultural Treasures initiative. Created by South Arts and the
Ford Foundation as part of Ford’s
America’s Cultural Treasures program, the initiative helps BIPOC arts and culture organizations across the Southeast achieve stability and success and expand their impact on the regional cultural landscape.
Because they are still in the grant selection process, the names of the two Charlotte-area organizations are currently confidential. Up to 15 organizations will make up the cohort, with each receiving $300,000 in general operating grants over three years. Additionally, members will receive capacity-building support and training valued at approximately $100,000, and be able to network and collaborate, with potential to extend their reach and profile nationally, and connect with other regional and national funders.
“The whole purpose of us putting together this Opportunity Fund [was] for things like this,” said board member Kevin Patterson. “It's outside of the norm and that's what we wanted to try to do. This could truly be a game changer for a BIPOC organization, something that we have not really done in the Charlotte community for a number of years.”
If the selected Charlotte-area organization has already received Infusion Fund dollars — separate from the Infusion Fund-supported Southern Cultural Treasures allocation — the advisory board will consider that in context of funding decisions for the upcoming fiscal year.
If both organizations currently in the running are approved for a Southern Cultural Treasures award, the board could revisit its current funding commitment. The Southern Cultural Treasure cohort membership and grant awards will be announced in early May.
The $200,000 allocation from the board is just the latest demonstration of its commitment to responding to immediate needs and new opportunities, and to creating a sustainable, long-term funding solution for the arts and culture community. In February, the board also approved
$35,000 from the Opportunity Fund for the “I Am Queen Charlotte” experience celebrating Black women in Charlotte.
After both allocations, there remains $165,000 from the current fiscal year’s Opportunity Fund to be awarded. Details about future Opportunity Fund allocations will be made available as the advisory board approves their uses.