The editorial below regards a measure which will be on the Mecklenburg County ballot on Nov. 5, presenting voters a “FOR” or “AGAINST” choice for an additional quarter-cent sales tax on goods and services purchased in Mecklenburg County earmarked to fund arts and culture initiatives, county parks and greenways and public teacher supplements.
You’ve seen them, the red, white and blue signs bolstering a necessary and urgent platform. They are sprinkled throughout the city, planted firmly in lawns, posted in windows of storefronts, easily spotted amongst the slideshows at various museums and galleries, and now spewing across the radio waves of your favorite stations.
FOR! Mecklenburg, a referendum that will greatly impact the state of the arts, parks and education and it has my complete, unwavering support.
Despite the many articles that have surfaced regarding FOR! Mecklenburg, several of them—if not all—rarely include the voice of an artist. Well, hello, I am “artist” and I have “voice!”
Unfortunately, this process is super familiar because it resembles, life—and, not “SONGS IN THE KEY OF,” an album by Stevie Wonder. You know when a group of people, presenting with good intentions, huddle themselves into a room to discuss the apparent needs of a community in which they don’t belong nor know anything about? Yeah, it’s that!
What’s also familiar about this process and conversation is the need to, yet again, convince YOU that art matters and isn’t simply a hobby or something someone does when they clock-out of their “real job.” That art (as well as parks and education) has real impact on real lives. And so, when queried about the quarter-cent sales tax, I am voting FOR! Mecklenburg and will outline the reasons why in a series of op-ed articles.
For! one, I can afford it. And, I say that through the lens of an artist. An artist who lives and works in a city that has yet to fully commit itself to the idea that art isn’t just child’s play. I say that through the lens and perspective of an artist of color, a female one at that—tattoos and all. Need I dive deeper into the plentiful opportunities that are absent for me and those of the like simply because of my appearance? Yet, I’m still able to afford the twenty-five cents (for every $100 spent) that’s in question because it’s invaluable and it’s worth it, even though many have difficulty connecting the dots of what I and other artists do and how we make their lives enjoyable on a daily basis.
More, I’m willing and able to invest my twenty-five cents because I have witnessed the transformation that shows itself when you give a damn. As an owner of DUPP&SWAT, a business that solely functions to serve, highlight and give platform to creatives who call the Queen City home, I have seen individuals move from being homeless to securing a home because we rooted FOR! them. We have seen individuals burdened with all kinds and forms of a “no”, provided a “yes.” In turn, they’ve been able to provide FOR! themselves, FOR! their family and FOR! their community. So, sure, let’s talk about social and economic mobility and how the arts (as well as parks and education) has a direct impact on those measurements as I have hella, real life data.
If you have questions or would like to talk about this, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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