Arts & Science Council, Charlotte
WolfBrown consultants assessed the need for a program to support the many history and heritage organizations in the Charlotte/Mecklenburg County area and de-signed a multi-layered program of grants and other assistance to be administered by the Arts and Science Council. Building on almost ten years of planning work for this nationally recognized agency, the resulting program dove-tailed with other efforts to support the cultural life of the region. The work included a series of interviews with representatives of history and heritage organizations as well as civic and business leaders.

In early 1999, the Arts and Science Council of Charlotte/Mecklenburg (ASC) contracted with WolfBrown to design a new initiative to support neighborhood-based arts, culture, science, history, and heritage projects with an emphasis on the underserved. Working with a task force from the community, the consultants drafted a set of goals as follows:

• Promote creativity and cultural opportunity for county residents
• Encourage broad participation and engagement in cultural activities
• Foster new and innovative approaches to using artists and arts, science, history, and cultural organizations to achieve community development goals
• Serve all geographic areas of Mecklenburg County
• Serve all age groups
• Expand beyond the heavy concentration of arts, science, and cultural activities that occur in uptown Charlotte
• Include neighborhoods and communities in the decision making process
• Nurture long-term organic partnerships between community groups and artists/cultural organizations
• Encourage the vitality of small indigenous cultural organizations and programs
• Encourage the use of neighborhood facilities and non-traditional settings for local presentations and program implementation.

The consultants then designed Community Cultural Connections — a program that became a new national model. The final report included specific recommendations on all aspects of the program's governance and structure. One of the more important recommendations was that the primary mechanism for decision making on all grants should be six regionally-based committees whose makeup would reflect the communities from which they come. Other design elements included a strong technical assistance and staff support component, minimal bureaucratic requirements, dissemination of information on local resources, and three distinct sub-grant categories covering a full range of program options.

WolfBrown consultants assisted the Arts & Science Council of Charlotte/Mecklenburg (ASC) with the design for a new business and technical assistance program for its constituents. Working with an Advisory Committee, the consultants researched nine model programs from other communities across the country. Findings from this research were used to develop a design for a business and technical assistance program for the arts and cultural community. While this project began as a focused effort to explore whether the ASC should develop an incubator type center, it became clear in the course of doing the research that the ASC must begin to address more broadly the question of how best to serve small and emerging organizations and individual artists. Through a series of confidential interviews with community representatives and individuals from the cultural community, focus groups with artists, and research, recommendations were developed that led to a broader four-phase business and technical assistance program.

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