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Thoughts on the Arts Funding Discussionby Tim Miner & Matt Olin on April 20, 2021
Last week, City Manager Marcus Jones broadcast a letter about how the City’s plans for arts funding are proceeding. Read it below.
It’s clear that big shifts are underway for Charlotte’s creative community – including a notable $36 million commitment to arts and culture over the next three years. But, there are still many questions to be answered to make sure it’s equitably committed and that emerging creatives and gig creatives see the benefit.
We want to be a community where every creative is recognized for the value they bring to the quality of life, the economy and the reputation of our city. We want to be a city that allows creatives to take chances — a place where creatives don’t have to have already “made it” to make it.
Charlotte needs to be a place where you can begin, build, grow and thrive throughout your creative career — a place to take chances, fail, learn and build back better than ever, safe in the knowledge that your community sees you, values you and will lift you up again.
As the discussions proceed, Charlotte Is Creative will continue to advocate for, support, fund and promote emerging and established creatives alike. We will continue working with our colleagues and collaborators at every level of the community –- including the City of Charlotte, City Council, Foundation For The Carolinas, ASC, Hue House and more, including many individual gig creatives.
We want to collaborate with creative individuals and arts organizations big and small to ask the right questions, champion inclusive solutions and amplify their insights. Can we involve the creative community – including those whose voices too often go unheard – in creating a thoughtfully designed future that is truly equitable, collaborative and sustainable for all of us?
We know the answer is YES, provided the unique perspectives, expertise and real-world needs of Charlotte’s creatives are employed to inform change. It’s going to take all of us working and sharing our perspectives and our passions together. (More on this last point coming soon!)
Main Image Credit: Wiley Stewart
Letter from Marcus Jones to the Arts & Culture Ad Hoc Committee on April 13, 2021
Members of the Arts and Culture Ad Hoc Committee,
I wanted to follow-up with you regarding the progress made on developing a plan and budget for arts and culture in our community which is aligned with the direction from the ad hoc committee and City Council. I am pleased to share that we will be outlining a plan that would meet and exceed the ad hoc committee’s recommendations including increasing annual resources by providing $36 million in arts and culture funding over a three-year period.
In many ways, I have our council members to thank as they have made a compelling case for the importance and impact of arts in our community which was heard by the private sector. In discussions with the private sector partners, they have agreed to match the city’s $4 million annual commitment based on these funds being placed in a third-party for administration. I am recommending that this third-party be the Foundation For The Carolinas. The foundation did an incredible job administering more than $43 million in CARES funds, and I am confident that they will administer these funds in a similar manner.
However, our private sector partners did not end there. Many believe that $8 million in annual funding will fall short of the true needs of this important sector of our economy. Therefore, the private sector partners are proposing a $6 million private fundraising effort that is matched by $6 million of public funding over a three-year period for a total of $36 million. The City can increase its commitment by $2 million to match the $6 million commitment by leveraging funds from the American Recovery Plan Act, which is consistent with how we used CARES funds to support the arts community. This combined commitment would bring this effort’s annual budget to $12 million per year for the first three years – a $4 million annual increase over the initial goal set forth by the committee.
Through this approach, we would continue to provide funding to the 37 organizations, including the 10 “THRIVE” organizations, that receive operational funding from the ASC and restore that funding to FY 2020 or FY 2021 levels – whichever was greater. We would also be able to provide funding to an additional 171 artists and arts organizations across our community. According to the ASC, these groups were funded through Cultural Vision Grants and Individual Artist Grants. These grants totaled almost $500,000 in FY 2021. This plan in the initial year doubles this funding.
I have been working with Arts & Science (ASC) Chair Susan Patterson since early January as we have discussed how to develop and move a sustainable model forward. The ASC plays an important role in the arts and culture ecosystem, and this approach would include restricted and unrestricted funds to the ASC as the organization reassesses its priorities and considers becoming a grantee in the future. Approximately $800,000 in unrestricted funds to the ASC are recommended during this transitional year.
In addition, this plan would establish an Arts & Culture Commissioner, who would report to the City Manager and receive guidance from a Board of Advisors appointed by public and private sector stakeholders. This group would be reflective of the community. Consistent with the ad hoc committee’s recommendations, the goal would be to have all parties work together to develop a vibrant and successful arts and culture ecosystem that works for all parts of our arts community.
This funding approach and structure would create a three-year time frame in which we would lead the development of a comprehensive arts and culture plan. This plan would design a long-term, broad strategy to support arts, culture and artists in an equitable and inclusive manner. The Arts Commissioner will work with the advisory board and other entities to lead the cultural study. The benefits of this approach are that in the short-term our arts organizations and artists would have increased funding while simultaneously working collaboratively towards a long-term strategy.
The charge to me from the ad hoc committee was to develop a policy for arts and culture as an economic development strategy for Charlotte and as a strategy for addressing social justice, education, workforce development and equitable access to opportunity. The committee approved several key tenets, which can be categorized in the following four principles:
- Commit to $4 million for the arts and culture sector, contingent upon private sector funding that matches or exceeds this amount
- Create an arts and culture plan as part of the FY 2022 City budget to ensure continued funding for ASC grant recipients
- Establish a third-party Arts & Culture Commissioner
- Embark upon a cultural study to enable all parties to work together to develop a Comprehensive Arts and Culture Plan
I believe this initial proposal meets the committee’s charge and I look forward to further discussions with you and your colleagues as we put together the FY 2022 budget and further address the committee’s recommendations. I am prepared to present additional information to the committee.
Marcus D. Jones