Things to do

How you can explore Charlotte’s culture today ... for free

I would like to be one of those interesting people who attends cool and inspiring cultural events all over the city. Just for fun.

So, what is Charlotte culture? I asked the Arts & Science Council staff how they defined it, since they carry the bold tagline, “Culture For All.”

ASC president Robert Bush said, “We don’t define Charlotte culture – the residents of this community do, and everyone defines culture differently in their lives. This aligns with our vision of ‘A Vibrant Cultural Life For All.’ Our role is to provide access to many arts, science and history/heritage options to help make the cultural lives of those in this community more vibrant.”

They do that by investing grants in more than 150 Charlotte-Mecklenburg nonprofits dubbed “cultural partners.

The rest of us can do that by spending nothing more than our time exploring our own definitions of Charlotte culture. Bush said, “The great thing about Charlotte is that cultural groups and creative individuals have long been empowered to create cultural opportunities and experiences.”

Therefore: exploring Charlotte culture (for free) can mean gawking at The Wall Poems of Charlotte. It can mean happening upon a piece of public art and stopping to let it sink in.

It can mean waking up early to make it to Creative Mornings Charlotte. Or sitting on your couch and listening to the talk by Jen Band or the talk by Patrice Gaines. Or hunched at your computer waiting to sign up for the next talk when registration opens 9 a.m. Feb. 1.

It can mean watching the imagination of playwrights unfold on a stage during the nuVoices Festival Jan. 14-17 at Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte.

Exploring Charlotte culture can mean roaming the twists and turns of fine arts galleries like Anne Neilson Fine Art in South End or Jerald Melberg Gallery in Cotswold. It can mean navigating the depths of The Mint Museum’s galleries during Free Wednesday Evenings, 5-9 p.m.


It can mean eating lunch and listening to an artist lecture at Sozo Gallery Jan. 20.

It can mean listening to a live band at a brewery or a trumpeter on an uptown street or raging DJ music during Shiprocked at Snug Harbor on Thursdays.


Exploring Charlotte culture can mean attending a book signing at the Morrison Branch Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library Jan. 19, or just pulling a book off the shelf and finding a comfy chair to curl up in.

It can mean wandering the Trail of History on Little Sugar Creek Greenway, noticing the statue of Captain James Jack, the statue of Thaddeus Lincoln Tate.


Charlotte culture — and the proper ways to explore it — can be defined in so many ways. You get to choose the meaning.

Photos: Katie Toussaint, Davie Hinshaw/Charlotte Observer