A Charlotte, North Carolina, arts group is doubling down after apologizing for originally funding “8 white, Western Eurocentric organizations with unrestricted dollars to support their operations,” including the Charlotte Symphony and Children’s Theatre of Charlotte.
Krista Terrell, acting president of Charlotte’s Arts & Science Council, said the group’s Cultural Equity Report showed that “due to ASC’s inequitable grant making practices, nine institutions each received more in operating support than all ALAANA (African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, Native American) organizations combined.”
“While I knew the facts in the report were startling, I never thought I would experience so intimately the uncomfortableness, the defensiveness, and the scaredness of white people reacting to the unvarnished truth,” Terrell, who is Black, wrote in a blog post last week.
The Arts & Science Council released the report apologizing for its past in February.
“Before we can move forward, it is first imperative that we apologize and accept accountability for the role we have played in creating and perpetuating systems and structures that have exacerbated inequities in our cultural community and beyond,” the report reads.
“ASC has been complicit in upholding funding practices that elevate certain cultures, creative traditions, identities and art forms above others,” the report continues.
Mike Rutledge, a member of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra’s board of directors, pushed back against the report’s framing in the Charlotte Observer.
” I worry that their labeling of the Charlotte Symphony as a “white, Western Eurocentric organization” in their Cultural Equity Report could undermine that goal by perpetuating the stereotype that orchestral music is only created by, and for, certain people,” Rutledge wrote.
Terrell said the next step for the Arts & Science Council is to have a series of community listening sessions called “Beyond the Sounds Bites.”
“We are using that title because people are hanging on to sound bites like ‘8, white, Western, Eurocentric’ and our apology in the Introduction section of the report, and are not reading the report,” she wrote in the April blog post.
“There is great fear with change and the truth, especially playing out in the public realm,” she continued. “As a Black woman leading a legacy organization, I know I am seen as the manifestation of that fear.”
The group was founded in 1958 under the name the Charlotte Arts Fund. The Arts & Science Council receives more than $3 million per year from the city of Charlotte, according to the Charlotte Business Journal.