Charlotte Arts Group apologizes for funding ‘white, Western Eurocentric organizations’

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An art advocacy group in Charlotte, North Carolina, is facing backlash after apologizing for funding “ white, Western Eurocentric organizations, ” including the city’s symphony, ballet and children’s theater.

The Arts & Science Council, which has been one of the primary sources of funding for arts and culture groups in the Charlotte area since 1958, offered the extraordinary apology in a February report examining funding practices.

The report raised the fact that black and minority groups have received far less funding from ASC in the past than white organizations, and highlighted the steps the council has taken to reduce those inequalities.

“ASC has been complicit in maintaining funding practices that elevate certain cultures, creative traditions, identities and art forms above others,” it read.

The report provoked outrage among leaders of the so-called “white, Western Eurocentric organizations” and others who said it perpetuated the stereotype that certain art forms are only for certain people and diminished the work of those organizations.

ASC Acting President Krista Terrell condemned critics of the report and its accompanying apologies in one blog post last week entitled ‘The Uncomfortable Truth’.

“While I knew the facts in the report were startling, I never thought I would feel so intimately the awkwardness, defensiveness, and fear of whites responding to the plain truth,” Terrell wrote.

Charlotte's Arts & Science Council faces backlash after apologizing for giving disproportionate funding to `` white, Western Eurocentric organizations, '' including the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, Charlotte Ballet and the Children's Theater of Charlotte (pictured)

Charlotte’s Arts & Science Council faces backlash after apologizing for giving disproportionate funding to “ white, Western Eurocentric organizations, ” including the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, Charlotte Ballet and the Children’s Theater of Charlotte (pictured)

Terrell, who has worked at the ASC for nearly two decades but took over the position of acting president this year, said most of the backlash centered around a chart showing the nine legacy institutions that were most likely between 1991 and 2020. received subsidy money from the council.

Of those nine – including the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, Opera Carolina and Children’s Theater of Charlotte and Charlotte Ballet – only one is run by a minority: the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture.

ASC Acting President Krista Terrell (pictured) condemned critics of the report and accompanying apology last week in a blog post entitled 'The Uncomfortable Truth'

ASC Acting President Krista Terrell (pictured) condemned critics of the report and accompanying apology last week in a blog post entitled ‘The Uncomfortable Truth’

The graph showed that each of these nine institutions received more operational support than all ALAANA institutions (African, Latin American, Asian, Arab, Indian) combined.

The report argued that the finding exemplified decades of “ unfair funding practices ” by the ASC, which is said to be “ set up to fund 8 white, West Eurocentric organizations with unlimited dollars to support their operations. ”

Terrell explained how the report was put together in her blog post, writing, “It was important for the team not to focus the report on the” new and shiny “things ASC has been doing in the field of equities over the past eight years.

“We wanted, as in the words of author, songwriter and teacher Alice Randall,” to share the untold story, the rest of the story, the suppressed story. ” ‘

Terrell said most of the backlash was centered around a graph showing the nine legacy institutions that received the most grant funding from the municipality between 1991 and 2020

Terrell said most of the backlash was centered around a graph showing the nine legacy institutions that received the most funding from the municipality between 1991 and 2020.

Terrell then went on to rail against those who criticized the reports’ findings. She didn’t identify anyone by name, but told them Charlotte observer the resistance was ‘exclusively from white cultural leaders’.

‘A president of a legacy organization said to me,’ I am all for changing inequalities related to access, ‘but when I asked their views on changing inequalities related to funding, I was given a long pause,’ ‘he wrote. they.

‘If ASC wants its funding to go further, I was told, it should invest more in legacy organizations with existing infrastructure instead of grassroots organizations.

“This is” the lie “at work. Think about what was said through the lens of fairness. Equality is about everyone having the resources they need to move forward together. ‘

Terrell also took note of a letter to the editor that Charlotte Symphony Orchestra’s board of directors, Mike Rutledge, wrote to the Observer.

I applaud and share the Arts & Science Council’s deep commitment to cultural equality, Rutledge wrote. “I fear, however, that their designation of the Charlotte Symphony as a ‘white, Western Eurocentric organization’ in their Cultural Equity Report might undermine that purpose by perpetuating the stereotype that orchestral music is only made by and for certain people.”

The Charlotte Ballet (pictured) was one of the 'white, West Eurocentric' organizations cited in the report for having received more money than all black and minority groups combined

The Charlotte Ballet (pictured) was one of the ‘white, West Eurocentric’ organizations cited in the report for having received more money than all black and minority groups combined

Charlotte Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors Mike Rutledge wrote a letter to the editor in The Observer complaining about the ASC report

Charlotte Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors Mike Rutledge wrote a letter to the editor in The Observer complaining about the ASC report

Terrell said some critics accused her of not being inclusive by refusing to subsequently read the report and provide feedback before it was released.

“I kept thinking,” You don’t read the report. You feel uncomfortable with the truth and defend yourself, “she wrote.

What I’m sure, based on their behavior and responses, is that they would have tried to launder the truth for their comfort. Neither I nor the team would let that happen. ‘

Terrell backed off a bit in her interview with the Observer, saying that “ some ” of the nine institutions highlighted in the controversial chart are “ really in favor of this work and what we do. ”

She also said the ASC continues to have good relationships with all nine institutions to which it has provided funding since its inception.

Terrell said the ASC will host community listening sessions about the report next month, dubbed “Beyond the Soundbites.”

“We use that title because people stick to sound bites like” 8, White, Western, Eurocentric “and apologize in the introductory part of the report, and don’t read the report,” she wrote.

She concluded her blog post: ‘There is great fear of change and the truth, especially in the public sphere.

“As a black woman running an inheritance organization, I know I am seen as the manifestation of that fear.”

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