Three Questions is a new Next Stage series. Over the coming months, we will feature social good leaders from across the region who are partnering in new and innovative ways to create big community change.
1. Tell us about Arts+’s proudest accomplishment last year.
Arts+ is a 50+ year old organization committed to providing excellent and accessible arts education throughout the Charlotte region. This past year we were faced with two major challenges—the ongoing pandemic and the loss of space—and we are persevering through both of these obstacles.
Every time we think we are out of the woods with COVID, we are right back in it! This has caused our amazing faculty, staff, partners and students to be nimble. Health and safety is our priority so if we need to quickly adjust to virtual programming, find locations for outdoor workshops, or assemble 700+ arts packets, our team has found a way not only to make it work but keep the high-quality standards of Arts+.
I am blown away with how engaging our faculty makes virtual learning in the midst of everyone going through screen fatigue. We also work with many partners including OurBRIDGE, the Charlotte Symphony and GEP. Seeing these organizations – along with the entire scope of the nonprofit sector – do what is necessary to continue serving the community is inspiring. But the most impressive thing has to be the resiliency of our students. I can’t imagine what it has been like for them in this unprecedented time but they are remarkable. Students show up ready to learn and Arts+ provides a needed creative outlet for so many.
This past fall, Arts+ was permanently displaced from Spirit Square, which we had called “home” for decades. A silver lining from COVID is that we were all experts at working remotely but nevertheless moving out of a space you’ve been in for 25+ years is no easy feat. Our quest for our new home is ongoing and we have a dedicated facilities committee working diligently to find our new space but not having a ‘home’ wears on staff and creates many programming challenges. Again, Arts+ staff and faculty don’t miss a beat and keep our programming going and continue to think creatively when it comes to space.
In summary, Arts+ proudest accomplishment is continuing to serve the community at a high-level through arts education – despite the challenges.
2. What do you hope to change this year?
I hope we move into a new building. Arts+ is looking for a 12,000 – 20,000 square foot space in proximity to uptown on a public transportation line. Our own space will allow us to significantly grow programming. Not only will we be able to serve more students, but also have more offerings including open studio time and more workshops and classes.
Arts+ has always had a hub and spoke model with satellite locations throughout the Charlotte region, from Ballantyne to Davidson, but a new hub will allow us to do more for our community. Arts+ has been raising funds to prepare for this and now we just need to identify the property.
If you have or know of an available space, please email me at [email protected].
3. Art+ is a nonprofit, but it’s mission is also highly applicable to the private sector. Why should companies care about your mission?
Companies should care about Arts+ mission for a multitude of reasons. According to the Brookings Institute article New Evidence of the Benefits of Arts Education, “Engaging with art is essential to the human experience. Almost as soon as motor skills are developed, children communicate through artistic expression. The arts challenge us with different points of view, compel us to empathize with “others,” and give us the opportunity to reflect on the human condition.” It has been proven that having an arts education improves academic outcomes, prompts more civically engaged people, sparks creativity and innovation, and so much more.
As an employer, companies are always looking for talent that is high-performing, creative, and community-minded. An arts education prepares the 21st century worker. Sadly, while we recognize art’s transformative impacts, its place in K-12 education has become increasingly absent. The arts and all of its irreplaceable benefits are deemed an ‘extra’ and often come at a cost that many cannot afford. Arts+ commitment to accessibility aims to make sure all students (no matter the age) can reap the benefits.
As companies look to the future, having a creative workforce is going to be critical. Arts+ is making that happen!