by Michael Lowrey
And here’s another fascinating UPoR piece on the continuing efforts by Big Art in Charlotte to piece together a coherent funding model via its recently established “Charlotte Cultural Life Task Force.” The basic spin:
The group is studying how to maintain a vibrant community in Charlotte and will make recommendations, including funding models, early next year. Members learned about the current state of the arts in light of recent economic shortfalls, diminishing corporate and individual giving and increasing competition for municipal funding.
The group learned that the Cultural Facilities Endowment that pays for operating the buildings of the Levine Center for the Arts – Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Mint Museum Uptown, Gantt Center for African American Arts + Culture and Knight Theater – has less money than planned. Lower than expected rates of return from investments, shortfalls in promised contributions and delayed cash contributions are contributing to the budget shortfall.
Three quick observations:
• Note what continues not to mentioned: the Arts Bundle and its impact on the finances of arts groups in the city. Or that the Arts Bundle is being paid for by an increase in the local car-rental tax. And let’s be clear here: the Uptown powers that be valued pretty new arts infrastructure over vibrant local arts organization five years ago when the Bundle and tax increase were pushed through.
• The task force’s recommendation will almost certainly include more public money for Big Art in the city, likely via a dedicated portion of the prepared food, hotel motel taxes, or car rental tax. Whether they get it is a different question, as both the Panthers and the Convention Center are already in line for those sorts of dollars should they become available. And its extremely unlikely that a Republican-control General Assembly would allow further increases in any of these taxes. (What approaches local arts groups use to get private funding will also be a focus of the task force’s recommendations.)
• That the task force is getting this much attention suggests that at least some Uptown power brokers think the Mint/Symphony/Discovery Place etc. matter. Whether that actually translates into more money, be it public or private, remains to be seen.