Our Connecting Spaces: The Intersection of Arts, Culture & Community

Categories: General News Tags: Arts


There is art everywhere in the Charlotte region – as far as the eye can see. Although increasingly visible, are we making the most of it?

The Charlotte region brims with robust arts and cultural resources from live performances at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, cutting edge dance at the Charlotte Ballet, vibrant murals in NoDa, Uptown, South End and Plaza Midwood, to the captivating public art sculptures located at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, on The Green, through the Beatties Ford Road corridor and beyond. For years, the Charlotte community has invested in its arts and placemaking programs to provide rich cultural experiences and learning opportunities for the area’s residents and visitors.

But, beyond creative expression, the Charlotte arts and culture scene can also foster spaces for connection among diverse groups of people.

Recent research by the Raj Chetty research team suggests that connections across class – or economic connectedness – are associated with higher rates of economic mobility in communities around the United States. And previous research suggests that participation in the arts is associated with more diverse friendships. Yet, as noted by Arts Impact Charlotte, the arts have been underemphasized as a potential tool to improve a range of issues associated with low rates of economic mobility.

How can we make the most of opportunities in the arts and our creative spaces to improve economic prosperity? How do we ensure equitable access and diverse participation in our region’s arts and culture sector? How can we develop connections in creative spaces and what are the benefits for the community at large?

On Thursday, Nov. 9, the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute will host our second 2023-24 Schul Conversation where we’ll discuss the social and economic impact of arts and cultural spaces on building relationships across class and difference. This conversation is the second in our Schul Forum Series, which focuses this year on the spaces where we connect, specifically asking how those spaces build community and facilitate relationships or create barriers to economic connectedness.

This conversation, as well as the Chancellor’s Speaker Series, will move us closer to the in-person Schul Forum event on February 1, 2024.

What: An online discussion featuring national and local voices on the importance of art and cultural resources in building connections and community. You’ll have the chance to ask questions as well as hear from the panelists.


  • Usha Srinivasan – president, Mosaic America
  • Vaughn Schmutz, Ph.D. – Gambrell Faculty Fellow and associate professor of sociology, UNC Charlotte
  • Priya Sircar – arts and culture officer, City of Charlotte
  • Krista Terrell – president, Arts & Science Council
  • Moderated by José Gámez, Ph.D., interim dean, UNC Charlotte College of Arts + Architecture, UNC Charlotte

When: November 9, 12 – 1:15 p.m.

Recap of Our Connecting Spaces: The Intersection of Arts, Culture & Community