The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced Thursday its commitment of $2.1 million to five Charlotte arts and culture nonprofits to increase diversity and expand reach in times of social distancing.
The recipients include:
- Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture ($1 million) to hire a technology team to produce digital experiences, virtual exhibitions and creative family programming. The grant will also support its Initiative for Equity + Innovation, a permanent strategy designed to build racial equality by using the arts as activism.
- Levine Museum of the New South ($600,000) to support the transition to a digital-first museum through the development of digital content, systems infrastructure and audience research. The investment will also support a staff of media producers and the launch of a comprehensive digital plan.
- JazzArts Charlotte ($250,000) to expand its development and marketing staff and hire a new tech/digital media producer to focus on digital strategy and the execution of new programs. Funds will also help increase audience engagement with jazz music through digital content and programs.
- Que-OS ($200,000) to craft a strategic plan for sustainability and growth, and support staff professional development. The artist-led organization will expand its digital programming, including its transition from producing the annual, in-person BOOM Charlotte fringe festival to a hybrid of ongoing in-person and online activities.
- Queen City New Play Initiative ($100,000) to provide seed funding for staff support, professional development and programming. The emerging playwright service organization focuses on local playwrights, stories about communities of color and Southern storytelling.
Before the pandemic shut down most in-person gatherings, the Knight Foundation commissioned Urban Institute to explore what attaches people to the places they live. Results from the study, which included survey responses from more than 11,000 people across the country, found that public spaces and the arts play key roles in boosting community engagement. Knight Foundation and Urban Institute released the findings in its “Community Ties” report in May.
“Throughout the pandemic, it has become even more evident that the arts are essential,” Priya Sircar, director of Knight’s arts program, said in a press release. “In addition to supporting the creation of new art, it is equally important for Knight to invest in programs and strategies that put equity and inclusion at its center, incorporating the many diverse communities of Charlotte into the process.”