Friday, June 7, 2013

Want the arts to stay alive? Then shout out.

You may have heard that a task force has been formed to study funding for the arts in Charlotte. Wait, don't let your eyes glaze over at the words "task force"! This matters.

The model we've sustained for about three decades, in which the Arts & Science Council made the rounds of private citizens, corporations and government and handed money over to arts groups, has been declining in effectiveness over the last decade. If you think the arts deserve financial support -- and if you don't, you're in the wrong blog -- then you already know we need a new model. But what?

Yes, people can always give directly to groups. (I do. I hope you do, too.) But centralized solicitation does work, partly because donors don't want a long line of potential recipients coming at them, hats in hand, for individual gifts. Companies such as mine prefer to have payroll deductions go to a central agency, too.

So nobody's going to recommend scrapping the ASC. But what role should it play in the future? What new funding sources or techniques can be found? It's the job of the 21-member task force, chaired by Valecia McDowell (an attorney with Moore & Van Allen) and Pat Riley (president of Allen Tate Company) to figure that out. (See for details.)

And it's your job, too. Public meetings will be held  to get your input throughout the year, before the task force makes recommendations. The first four are all on Mondays, from 3 to 5 p.m.. in the ASC boardroom at 227 W. Trade St., Suite 250. They're on June 10, June 24, July 15 and July 29.

If you've enjoyed a Summer Pops concert near SouthPark or taken your kid to "The Nutcracker" or seen a play by one of a dozen local theater companies, you know the value of the arts. But they can't depend entirely on ticket sales, however popular they are; they need private and public backing to keep the stage lights on and the tutus pressed. What that combination should be is, at least partly, up to you.