The City of Charlotte is taking its next steps toward a sustainable funding model for arts and culture and a long-term cultural plan for Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.
The city on Feb. 11 released a
request for proposals seeking a consultant to help craft the cultural plan. The plan will develop stability in the arts and cultural sector, incentivize opportunities for sustainable growth of local artists and arts and culture organizations, grow the industry ecosystem, and respond to community needs.
Additionally, on Feb. 8, the resident-led
Arts and Culture Advisory Board approved a strategy for spending more than $4 million for arts and culture in fiscal year (FY) 2022, which runs from July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022.
How Will a Consultant Assist the Cultural Planning Process?
The cultural plan will outline the strategies, policies, funding requirements, and roles and responsibilities needed to create a thriving cultural community in Charlotte.
Throughout the process, and guided by the Arts and Culture Advisory Board and the city's
arts and culture officer, the chosen consultant will provide:
Research and analysis of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County's cultural landscape, assets, spaces, needs and history; changing demographics; community priorities; and the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Research on comparable cities and potential ways to collaborate for resources.
Potential funding models and governance structures, with a recommendation for each.
Articulation of a long-range vision (potentially 10 years) with flexible, nearer-term plans.
A thorough community engagement process that includes people and organizations in the arts and cultural community; donors and corporate funders; and residents, including people underrepresented in past planning efforts and those who speak English as a second language.
A plan to educate and inform the public during the planning process.
Methods to gauge the value, quality, reach and impact of programs, arts and cultural experiences, organizations, and other recipients of Infusion Fund dollars.
Interested candidates must submit their proposals by March 3. The contract will be awarded by early April. Work on the plan is anticipated to begin in April and finish in the spring of 2023.
How is the Arts and Culture Advisory Board Allocating Funds?
In July 2021, the City of Charlotte partnered with private sector donors, represented by the Foundation For The Carolinas, to allocate about $7.6 million in local arts and culture support. This first round of
Infusion Fund allocations for FY 2022 included:
$6.3 million to 38 arts and cultural organizations in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County previously funded by the
Arts & Science Council (ASC), an organization that distributes public and private dollars to artists, creatives and cultural organizations. This
Infusion Fund support from public and private donors was administered by the city and the Foundation For The Carolinas.
$1.3 million to the ASC for its operations, artists programs, and project support for nonprofits.
Round Two of Infusion Funding
On Feb. 8, the city's advisory board approved a strategy for distributing more than $4 million in remaining FY 2022 Infusion funding. This strategy includes distributing $3 million in specific grant allocations to 37 organizations that previously received money from the fund. These allocations are listed below.
Additional Infusion Funding in Fiscal Year 2022
The Charlotte Symphony*
Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture
The Mint Museum*
Levine Museum of the New South*
Children's Theatre of Charlotte*
The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art*
Blumenthal Performing Arts
Carolina Raptor Center
Carolinas Aviation Museum
Actor's Theatre of Charlotte
Matthews Playhouse of the Performing Arts
One Voice Charlotte
Davidson Community Players
A Sign Of The Times of the Carolinas
The Light Factory
The Gay Men's Chorus of Charlotte
Charlotte Center for Literary Arts
Charlotte Art League
The Carolinas Latin Dance Company
Three Bone Theatre
The Charlotte Folk Society
Martha Connerton/Kinetic Works
The city and its partners are committed to equity as a priority of the Infusion Fund. The eight organizations listed in
bold text are ALAANA (African, Latinx, Asian, Arab and Native American) organizations, a designation previously used by the ASC for these organizations when applying an equity lens to its funding. In the second round of Infusion funding, ALAANA organizations are receiving a larger proportion of the total funds, compared to their proportion of total funds distributed in the first round.
An asterisk (*) denotes nine organizations that received the largest grants in the first round of funding. Except for the Charlotte Symphony, these organizations are receiving a smaller proportion of funding in the second round. In contrast, the Charlotte Symphony will receive a larger proportion in the second round. These nine organizations and the Gantt Center were included in the Foundation For The Carolinas' THRIVE Fund — a 10-year fund launched in 2011 to save the Charlotte Symphony from financial collapse that was later expanded to support these 10 Charlotte arts organizations.
The THRIVE Fund is nearing the planned end of the program and is currently being reviewed due to the creation of the Infusion Fund. To help defray the symphony's funding deficit, the advisory board approved shifting some of the second-round Infusion funding away from eight THRIVE-funded organizations — not including the Gantt Center, which is considered an ALAANA organization in this context — to the symphony. The eight other THRIVE organizations expressed support for this proposal.
The second round of Infusion funding for the 20 remaining organizations is proportional to what they received in the first round in July 2021.
Additional Fiscal Year 2022 Infusion Funding
The board has also finalized a framework for distributing the rest of the FY 2022 Infusion funds:
$800,000 to artists and organizations that have not yet been supported by the Infusion Fund.
In January, the board voted to partner with the ASC to distribute $400,000 to artists and creative individuals in the spring of 2022.
The other half will be coordinated by city staff and the advisory board to support organizations that have not received operating support through the Infusion Fund.
$400,000 for projects or initiatives that may come up and that the advisory board wishes to support. Grants in this new Opportunity Fund would be awarded periodically or on an ad hoc basis and could support festivals, education, training, facilities or research, for example.
$200,000 toward expenses associated with the cultural plan and engaging the community in its development.
Beyond this fiscal year, the Arts and Culture Advisory Board will also direct the Infusion Fund allocations in the 2023 and 2024 fiscal years — at least $12 million each year. The board will begin discussing future years' funding in the coming months.
Why is the City of Charlotte Reevaluating Local Funding for Arts and Culture?
The arts and culture sector has a history of support from the City of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, corporations, private foundations and individual donors.
Historically, the city has supported the maintenance and debt service of city-owned cultural facilities, a program to include public art in capital projects, and the ASC, which has been the primary source of institutional funding for arts and culture in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. As a united arts fund model, the ASC, historically, has relied heavily on workplace giving in addition to City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County funding.
Over time, workplace giving has declined significantly in Charlotte and in other cities. The decline, together with the economic downturn of 2008, has made the established funding model unsustainable. In more recent years, the sector's decline in revenue has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in approximately $50 million in lost revenues.
Meanwhile, artists and organizations have displayed resilience and ingenuity to persevere through the pandemic. The city and its partners are seeking a plan for long-term development and sustainability.
arts and culture page for more information on the development of the cultural plan.