Daylong ASC session reinvigorates artists

You can buy many dreams for $25: a fistful of lottery tickets, two dozen wishes from a magic well. You might’ve spent it Tuesday on six hours of cultural inspiration in “Imagine 2025: Share the Vision.”

The Arts & Science Council-sponsored session at Booth Playhouse was meant to energize artists and people who back them, raise support for a quarter-cent sales tax increase on the November ballot – which would aid libraries, Central Piedmont Community College, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and the ASC – and introduce the Cultural Vision Plan developed between 2010 and 2012. (Read it at artsandscience.org.)

Dennis Scholl, vice president of arts for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, gave the keynote speech. He praised random acts of culture backed by the foundation, which springs classic works on unsuspecting audiences; the 1,268th such act erupted when members of Opera Carolina popped out of the audience to do the Toreador Song from “Carmen.”

Aaron Dworkin, founder of the Sphinx Foundation and an advocate for classical music by black and Latino performers, told how the violin had “saved my life” and set him apart from peers; he hushed the crowd by reading his poem “They Said I Wasn’t Really Black.”

Regina Boyd, former principal at Winterfield Elementary School and now director of English-language learning systems for CMS, told how Winterfield’s orchestral and gardening programs helped unify not only a racially diverse student body but the community living nearby.

Hardly anyone tried to imagine what Charlotte would look like in 2025, though panel discussions led to suggestions: affordable living space for artists, performances that meet audiences where they live.

But a galvanic performance by a troupe led by CarlosAlexis Cruz, winner of the ASC’s 2014 McColl Award for innovative work, showed what Charlotte could become. Cruz recited in Spanish, an African-American poet spoke his work, hip-hop dancers spun and popped, dancers wearing multihued Mexican dresses swirled gracefully.

“Cultural separation is the norm here,” said Cruz, whose “Nouveau Sud, Nouveau Cirque” includes neighborhood residencies next year and a main stage production in spring 2016. “We have diversity, but groups don’t communicate with each other.” He aims to break that mold by bringing them all together onstage.