The Arts & Science Council annual drive is getting a boost from Foundation for the Carolinas, which is offering a $50,000 challenge grant to help get the campaign to its $7.3 million goal.
The ASC, which extended its drive because of sluggish fundraising, has to raise $150,000 to qualify for the grant, it announced Thursday. With the drive at $7.1 million, the combined $200,000 would get the ASC to its goal. The ASC hopes to do that by Monday, when the campaign is supposed to close.
"We are doing everything in our power to connect with as many people as we can by the Monday cutoff," ASC president Scott Provancher said. But if the drive needs more time, it will take it.
"We don't want to leave any money on the table," Provancher said.
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Like last fall's United Way drive, the ASC campaign faced slow going because of the economy. Also like United Way, the ASC ended up extending its campaign.
On Thursday, with about $200,000 to go on the ASC drive, the foundation's board voted to help.
"The fact that the ASC is so close to meeting their fund drive goal in this difficult economy shows that our community recognizes the importance of our cultural life," foundation president Michael Marsicano said in a statement.
The $7.3 million goal equals the amount the ASC raised in last year's drive, which took place when fears about the recession were peaking. That 2009 total was more than 30 percent less than the previous year's total - the sharpest drop of any arts drive in the United States.
The ASC's campaign, which began Jan. 26, was to end March 12. But just before then, about $1 million short of the goal, the ASC extended the deadline.
The opening weeks of the ASC's campaign overlapped with the extended United Way drive. In the past week, the possibility that some Charlotte-Mecklenburg libraries might close because of budget cuts spurred an unplanned fundraising drive.
Despite the simultaneous fundraising efforts, Provancher is not sure they made the ASC's work harder, he said.
"This community is at a crossroads," Provancher said. "There are many challenges. It's going to take everyone stepping up for the cause they care about the most to get us through this."