Lake Norman & Mooresville

Arts & Science Council seeks community input

At a community meeting Feb. 8, the Arts & Science Council will ask Lake Norman residents how it can improve arts, science, history and heritage offerings in the area.

The Charlotte-based organization, which has helped fund such Lake Norman amenities as Discovery Place Kids, will host the meeting Cornelius Town Hall. The council plans meetings in south Mecklenburg County and downtown Charlotte this week.

Community input meetings, "definitely have an impact on what takes place in this community culturally," said Robert Bush, senior vice president of the council.

In recent years, Bush said, the Arts & Science Council has pushed for increased involvement in all parts of the county, not just the city of Charlotte.

"When we started making the big push into North Mecklenburg, there were already a lot of great grassroots arts organizations in existence like Davidson Community Players and previous incarnations of The Community Arts Project," said Aaron Fiedler, the council's spokesman.

In the last five years, the council has provided about $1.8 million to organizations and individual artists in the North Mecklenburg area, he said.

Other projects and organizations that the council has supported in recent years include Latta Plantation, the Carolina Raptor Center, the Cornelius Youth Orchestra and the Warehouse Performing Arts Center.

The council typically hosts community input meetings every 10 to 15 years, said Fiedler.

Troy Fitzsimmons, Cornelius' PARC director, said he's interested in hearing residents' suggestions, especially given the dramatic changes the town has seen in its population over the last decade.

"It's a good time to reassess the cultural arts needs of the community and determine how those needs have grown," he said.

Fitzsimmons said the town constantly strives to improve its arts scene. For instance, town commissioners formed an arts task force last year to explore expanding the town's arts activities and exhibitions.

The Arts & Science Council helped by appointing a member to the task force, he said.

After plenty of research, that task force concluded that "there is a strong need for continued growth in arts programming," said Fitzsimmons.

Based on those findings, Cornelius plans to bring an improved arts center to the area soon. And the town will be working with the Arts & Science Council to make sure that dream reaches fruition, he said.

Bush said he hopes a lot of people attend tonight's meeting to ensure that the council gets a good idea of residents' needs.

"This is an opportunity for us to listen to citizens about what their hopes, desires and wishes are for what the cultural community can do for them," he said.