This editorial is in response to Mecklenburg County voters rejecting a 1/4 sales tax increase on the Nov. 5, 2019 ballot.
So, about that vote …
We have a simple mantra at The Biscuit — Charlotte. Is. Creative. We believe it so much, it’s the name of the non-profit that produces The Biscuit.
Creativity’s not just about the performing arts or about the class we took between math and science in grade school. It’s not the province of the young or something that should be left behind as we grow up, get serious and get a “real” job. For many of us, its how we put food on the table. Creativity doesn’t exist for creativity’s sake.
Creativity expressed through art, culture and innovation has the power to gather people together, create connections, promote understanding and drive opportunity. The disciplines and skills learned through a creative life make businesses stronger, push them forward and lift the fortunes of all who live here. It has the power to make sure we see each other.
Creativity is not something we add on top of life like a garnish if we have something extra left over. It’s a vital ingredient for any great city. It makes a place desirable for those wanting to move there. Its community is magnetic, draws people in and keeps them engaged. Think of the strongest cities in America. They’ve figured this out. And, they’ve found innovative ways to make sure creativity thrives.
They’ve thrown the gauntlet. Let’s pick it up.
Some people were upset Wednesday morning. Some were happy. That doesn’t make them enemies.
We’re probably preaching to the choir here. If you’re reading this, we’re willing to bet you agree with us. Where we may not agree completely is on which methods we use support creativity, arts and culture as a community through the allocation of dollars, attention and intention. The good news there is we have lots of room to work together here. There are no “one-size-fits-all” measures.
And, that gets us to November 5.
This Tuesday, the referendum on the quarter-cent sales tax increase to benefit arts, parks and education was voted down. We endorsed the ballot measure because we advocate supporting the arts and creativity in every way possible.
If you voted for the tax, you were probably upset Wednesday morning. If you voted against it, we suspect that, although you’re glad the vote went your way, you’re probably still concerned about how arts and culture will survive in the Queen City. (If you didn’t vote either way, we seriously need to talk.)
We’re at a point in our country where too many people believe that if someone doesn’t agree with your way of seeing the world, they’re wrong — that if we can’t see eye to eye exactly, we just shouldn’t look at one another. That’s immature hogwash.
We believe that many people who didn’t vote in favor of the tax weren’t questioning the necessity for creativity, but that they were left with questions about how the money would be used or that they had a fundamental problem with increased taxation.
That doesn’t make them wrong. It’s not a reason to move apart, it’s a call to come together. It’s an invitation to ask: How can we work together to find a solution that works? The people who don’t agree with you may just have the perspective you’ve needed to fine-tune your idea and make it work. Unchallenged ideas break as easily as untempered steel.
We can promise you this: Charlotte Is Creative is running toward the people who didn’t support the tax, not away from them. We need to better understand how they propose supporting arts and culture (not to mention parks and education). We need them to help us make our ideas better. They know something we don’t. They see the world differently than we do. We’re excited to move past the elevator pitch of why we were “opposed” and dig into where we have common ground … because it’s there, waiting to be discovered.
Roll Up Your Sleeves
We need to get back to work on the next idea and, probably, lots more after that. Our diverse city’s current funding mechanisms and distribution systems must evolve to better serve the entire community. We need paths to sustainability that are equitable, viable, understandable and accountable. Creative organizations MUST become passionate about (and adept at) developing true, sustainable support for their work. Ultimately, it is how long-term fiscal health is created for such organizations.
Charlotte’s creative fuel must originate and generate from inside the community. We must double down on supporting each other, celebrating each other, mentoring each other, collaborating with each other, standing for each other’s greatness, calling each other out on our BS and becoming deeply vested in each other’s long-term success as creatives in every corner of the city.
And, all of us (we’re looking in a mirror here, too) need to do a better job of measuring and communicating with the greater Charlotte populace about the massive impact the creative community makes on life here every day.
Let us be clear: It means we in the creative community have got to learn to better explain our importance to the business community of Charlotte — the biggest corporations and audacious start-up entrepreneurs alike — especially when it comes to attracting and retaining talent and investment.
Bank Town and Funky Town are gonna’ be besties. That’s just how it is.
Tuesday wasn’t doomsday.
So, Tuesday wasn’t doomsday. Perhaps it didn’t go the way some of us wanted.
But, it was just another day in the creative life of Charlotte.
Welcome to Thursday. Charlotte is still creative.
Tomorrow is Friday. And, creativity will be stronger than it is today … if we work together.
The vote changed none of that. It just means we have to get, well, more creative about how we sustain Charlotte’s arts, culture and innovation and put it to work in every corner of life here with every resident. Can you imagine what our future will look like when we commit to further fusing our collective talents and passions? We have only just begun.
Welcome to the new era of unbridled creativity, unleashed.
Matt Olin & Tim Miner
Co-Founders – Charlotte Is Creative
Co-Publishers – The Biscuit
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