SERVICES


Arts & Science Council, Charlotte
In 1990, the Arts & Science Council of Charlotte/Mecklenburg was fifteen years old, and like most fifteen year olds, it was experiencing growing pains — some the natural collateral of maturation, others brought on by its home environment. Here it was a case of the environs themselves burgeoning: in the Council's brief life, thousands of people had poured into Charlotte and the surrounding region, altering the landscape and demographics, and starting up fledging arts initiatives. In addition, area citizens and businesses had poured over $100 million into cultural facilities, demonstrating a remarkable eagerness for programming. How was the Council, as the community's united arts fund raiser, to grow into this situation gracefully, with its potentials realized? The Council sought out WolfBrown to help it — in the parlance of the young — get its act together.

Focusing on Charlotte's eleven-county territory, WolfBrown consultants canvassed the community to learn what it considered its cultural potential to be and how the Council should work to achieve it. Team members met regularly with a central committee and eight sub-committees, who concentrated on such areas as public art and cultural diversity; team members interviewed 150 individuals; and they conducted a telephone survey to gather opinions about arts activities and issues.

Following a nine-month process, the consultants consolidated their findings and recommendations in a five-year plan. The plan shifted the focus from facilities to organizations, offered a new system for allocating public and private dollars, and recommended a major arts education initiative (which WolfBrown subsequently developed). Most critically, it suggested how the Council should be reconstituted to spearhead future community-wide initiatives and coordinate community response to the likes of the Charlotte Symphony's on-going financial problems.

The five years were up in 1996, and the results were dramatic: a new $50 million performing arts facility was finished and filled with delighted audiences; the city and county governments' contributions to the arts were up significantly; and the Council raised $27 million for an arts stabilization fund, even as it sustained the levels of its annual united arts fund drive.

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