After years of planning and construction, the Harvey B. Gantt Center for Afro-American Center for Art + Culture will officially open on Saturday.

The day begins at 9:45 a.m. with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and ends around 3 a.m. with jazz and blues on the rooftop terrace. In between, the day will be packed with entertainment, workshops and music. And don’t forget the three exhibit halls filled with African American art. (See schedule below)

At a recent media day, former Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt said he was humbled to have his name associated with the $18 million facility.

“I’m still trying to get used to saying ‘The Gantt Center,’ ” he told the audience.

Gantt said he hopes the center will be “a big stage for the enrichment of the Charlotte community, especially our children, on the significant cultural heritage and history of African Americans and their impact historically and today on this region.”

Founded in 1974, the Afro-American Cultural Center’s first home was at Spirit Square, then later at the former Little Rock AME Zion Church building.

Gantt called the center’s evolution “a wonderful journey of ups and downs and survival.”

One of its big breaks came in 1998 when NationsBank, now Bank of America, bought 58 paintings by 20th Century African American artists and donated them to the center, but with the stipulation that a new building would be needed to display them.

Those paintings, known as the Hewitt Collection, now make up the backbone of the Gantt Center’s art exhibits. The collection includes works by Henry O. Tanner, Romare Bearden, Charles Alston, John Biggers, Elizabeth Catlett, Jonathan Green, Ronald Joseph, Jacob Lawrence, Hughie Lee-Smith and Hale Woodruff.

The Afro-American Cultural Center found a new home for its collection when Wachovia and city officials agreed to make the Gantt Center part of the new uptown cultural campus that includes the Knight Theater, the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art and the new Mint Museum building – all built along south Tryon Street.

The campus was paid for largely by local tax dollars, including an increase on the rental-car tax.

“It started as a simple idea that just kept growing,” said Bob Bertges, a Wachovia/Wells Fargo executive who oversaw much of the project.

In commemoration of the center’s 35th anniversary, the Gantt Center is offering a special membership and entry fee through the end of the year. Two-year membership for the price of one: $50 for individuals; $100 for a family membership; and $35 for senior citizens.

The museum entry fee is $5 and will increase to $8 per person in 2010.

The center also is looking for volunteers to serve at all capacities. Call (704) 547-5700 for more details.


Saturday, Oct. 24, 2009

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

9:45 am Stanley Graham – “Follow that Sound”

Trumpet Call to Drummers

9:50 am Chuck Davis African American Dance Ensemble

10:00 am Ribbon Cutting Program Begins

Outdoor Pavilion

11:00 am – 12:00 pm Traditional African Dance & Drumming SHAE Movement

Gantt Center TeenMOVEMENT “Shine”

12:15 pm – 1:00 pm House of Prayer Band

1:15 pm – 2:15 pm A Sign of the Times

2:30 pm – 3:15 pm Power House

3:30 pm – 4:00 pm Youth Steel Drums

4:15 pm – 5:00 pm The Luminares Collective

Maha’s Dancer of India

5:15 pm – 6:00 pm Eau Claire HS Dance Ensemble, Columbia, SC

Chris Thompson Cultural Ensemble

Outdoor Pavilion Creativity Tent

11:00 am – 3:00 pm Behind the Mask (Face Painting)

1:00 pm – 3:00 pm Going Green with Bearden and Denmark

2:00 pm – 5:00 pm The Gantt Center: Architecture of the Quilt


Multipurpose Room – 2nd Floor

12:00 pm – 12:45 pm Carolina Voices

1:00 pm – 2:00 pm The Women Who Raised Me – Book signing with Victoria Rowell

2:00 pm – 2:45 pm Make Your Words Dance Workshop

3:00 pm – 3:45 pm Charlotte Contemporary Ensemble

4:00 pm – 4:45pm Gantt Center TeenMOVEMENT Dance Workshop

4:30 pm – 5:00 pm BreathINK Gantt Center Youth Spoken Word Group

Classroom – 2nd Floor

1 :00 pm – 1:45 pm Shade Family Puppeteers

2:00 pm – 2:15 pm Storybook Corner with NC African-American Storytellers

2:30 pm – 3:15 pm Shade Family Puppeteers

3:30 pm – 3:45 pm Storybook Corner with NC African-American Storytellers

4:00 pm – 4:45 pm Shade Family Puppeteers

Gallery – 2nd Floor

2:00 pm – 3:00 pm The Art of Collecting – Mrs. Vivian Hewitt

West Gallery – Third Floor

3:00 pm – 4:00 pm The Artist’s Voice – Radcliffe Bailey

Third Floor Atrium

4:00 pm – 6:00 pm Classical Interludes – Damon Stintson

After Glow

Classroom – 2nd Floor

6:00pm – 7:00 pm Independent Film

Multipurpose Room – 2nd Floor

6:15 pm – 7:00 pm Latin Rhythms with Tommy Lopez & Sendy Mendez

7:15 pm – 8:00 pm Salsa Charlotte

9:15 pm – 9:45 pm Miles & Coltrane

10:00 pm – 10:45 pm Sweet Dreams

11:00 pm – 11:45 pm After Touch

12:00 am – 12:45 am Midnight Storytelling

1:00 am – 2:00 am Porter House

2:00 am – 3:00 am Jam Session

Rooftop – 4th Floor

8:00 pm – 8:45 pm Sauda (Jazz strings)

10:00 pm – 10:45 pm Mother Blues

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