Charlotte's arts scene is growing, as well as becoming more diverse and even, some say, edgy.
It's a big change in a city long known more for its financial firms than its cultural assets. But the city still lacks what many see as a dedicated arts district, and some advocates say the Charlotte arts community needs to welcome people working outside of established institutions.
[Read more about the city's growing arts scene: Charlotte’s arts scene is growing - and at a crossroads.]
Here’s what some of the city's arts advocates and artists have to say:
“We are very bullish on creativity in Charlotte. We see an incredible amount of passion that we are not giving ourselves credit for. We have oversold ourselves as a business and banking town. I’m very excited about the opportunities that exist.” - Tim Miner, co-host of the CreativeMornings monthly breakfast series and co-founder of Charlotte is Creative
“There are two Charlotte arts scenes. There’s the street scene that I am in. We are people who have a DIY approach; we operate outside the arts institutions in Charlotte. I know there is a way to merge the two. It’s difficult to get old Charlotte to come to new Charlotte. It is not very often that they come into our spaces.” - Dammit Wesley, creative director of Black Market studio at Camp North End
“I would like to see growth in private funding outside of the regular institutions. I would like to see younger, professional groups more involved in the arts. That 25- to 35- year-old-range is where the future is.” - Hilary Burt, Queens University arts professor, director of SOCO Gallery in South End
“There isn’t an arts district currently in Charlotte. There are pockets of artists, galleries and collectives here and there…My ideal is that all the pockets and collectives can truly collaborate. We hold a lot of power. We can change how people perceive Charlotte, both insiders and outsiders.” - Davita Galloway, a co-founder of Dupp&Swatt art studio at Camp North End
“Charlotte is finally getting to a place where it understands the importance of the arts and understands that the investment in the arts is an investment in our cultural future…. Art is completely about diversity. We are finally on the cusp of becoming a city that has a diverse culture. Making sure the arts are accessible is vastly important.” - Morgan Mathieu Tran, gallery and exhibitions manager at LaCa Projects in FreeMoreWest
“What we’ve learned is that the McColl Center and other arts institutions can seem intimidating. There is a lot of work that we can do to create an environment that is welcoming and accessible….What is important for the McColl Center is that we don’t lose a chance to bring people together.” - Alli Celebron-Brown, president and CEO, McColl Center for Art + Innovation
“Art gives things soul. That kind of creative expression gives a place culture. We care about helping create a unique place….I hope that we raise the standard in Charlotte in how we are embracing the arts.” - Varian Shrum, community manager at Camp North End
“One of the challenges we’ve had is that artists study here and then go other places for opportunities. I see that is beginning to change. The issues have been where do you make your work? How do you make a living?” - Amy Bagwell, a founder of Goodyear Arts and art professor at Central Piedmont Community College
“At this stage the arts scene is malleable. There are opportunities that exist here that are not available in other cities. There are opportunities for folks to turn their dreams into reality.” - Jessica Moss, arts advocate and founder of the Roll-Up residency arts program in the Camp Greene neighborhood