July 24, 2012

Fundraising falls short, so arts grants don’t go as far

Arts & Science Council misses $8.7 million goal by $300,000, awards $12.5 million.

The Arts & Science Council fell $300,000 short of its $8.7 million goal for this year’s annual fund drive, so some of the area’s largest cultural groups will see their support trimmed.

The ASC, which has been trying to rejuvenate its fundraising after a slump caused by the recession, brought in $8.4 million this year, it announced Monday. That was $100,000 more than the 2011 total.

The increase proves that Charlotte is “still investing in the arts and culture,” ASC President Scott Provancher said Monday. But missing the goal shows that the ASC and arts community have to find new ways to attract support.

The ASC has been laboring to overcome a fundraising slump brought on by the recession. Its 2009 campaign fell short of the previous year’s total by more than 30 percent. Starting a quest for fresh strategies, it last year launched an online fundraising site – power2give.org – that has raised nearly $500,000.

When the ASC combines the donations from this year’s drive with money from other sources – such as endowment earnings and government grants – it will give $12.5 million to the area’s cultural groups in the coming year. The ASC announced the campaign results and the first round of grants Monday at the Knight Theater in uptown Charlotte.

Among arts groups that receive ASC support every year, some smaller groups will receive the same amount as last year. The effects of missing the goal show up mainly in groups at the upper end of the scale. The Mint Museum will receive $1,144,800, which is a reduction of more than $50,000 from last year’s amount. The Charlotte Symphony will get $825,210, a decrease of more than $38,000.

The results show that the ASC and arts groups must work “hand in hand” to cultivate broader support, said Jonathan Martin, the orchestra’s executive director. The ASC is still the orchestra’s largest annual source of donated money, added Martin, who announced Monday that he’s leaving to become CEO of the Dallas Symphony.

The fundraising challenges aren’t all rooted in the recession, Provancher said. The longtime foundation of the ASC’s drive, its workplace-giving campaign, is suffering from changes in the way businesses handle such campaigns. Businesses are increasingly opening them to a wider range of charities than the ASC and United Way, which used to be employees’ only choices.

The workplace campaign brought in less this year than last year, Provancher said. While businesses helped by contributing more, they weren’t able to push the campaign to its goal.

Some of the area’s smaller organizations will receive ASC support for their first time to help them accomplish projects or stage festivals. City at Peace-Charlotte will get $5,500 to stage a theatrical production with more than 60 teenagers of diverse backgrounds.

The Davidson Farmers Market will receive $4,575 for an outdoor mural with a vintage feel. Caroline Calouche & Co., a dance company, will get $4,500 to produce shows combining aerial and contemporary dance.

For the Calouche group, the ASC’s grant is “major support,” founder and choreographer Calouche said Monday. It will enable the company to perform its three-show season in the Booth Playhouse at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, rather than smaller venues that don’t serve as well.

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