Krista Terrel. Photo courtesy of Alvin C. Jacobs Jr

Arts & Science Council (ASC) President Krista Terrell has resigned and will leave the organization by the end of this year, ASC announced today.

Terrell has worked at ASC for 21 years, the last two as president, leading the organization through a time of staff cuts after the city of Charlotte redirected much of the funding that once flowed through ASC.

Terrell said in a statement that she is “extremely proud” of the work accomplished under her leadership.

She noted more grant dollars going to local artists, putting more teaching artists in public schools, and working to reaffirm ASC’s “commitment to cultural equity.”

“I am grateful to have led ASC’s team in pushing our work forward and to ASC’s board for trusting me to lead the organization,” Terrell said in the statement.

ASC’s board of directors, chaired by Tony Perez, will lead a search for a new president, the organization said in its statement.

Terrell, 48, joined ASC in 2002 as a public relations specialist after working three years at Community School of the Arts, now Arts+. At ASC, she held positions including communications director, vice president of marketing and communications, and then acting president before she was named president in April 2021, replacing Jeep Bryant, who resigned earlier that year.

In an interview with QCity Metro, Terrell said no single event precipitated her decision to step down. She said she had been pondering the move for several months.

“I’m just ready to move on in my career and to do something different,” she told QCity Metro. “What that different is, I’m not sure. But what led to it…it was time for me to move on.”

As vice president of marking and communications, Terrell played a leading role in creating ASC’s first Cultural Equity Report in 2021, which apologized for a history of discriminatory grantmaking. The report also outlined steps that ASC would take to correct that historical imbalance, which tended to favor “white, Western Eurocentric” organizations. ASC released its second equity reporter earlier this year.

Terrell on Friday listed the Equity Report among her most noted accomplishments.

“We stayed committed to reporting on our cultural equity journey to the community because we want to hold ourselves accountable, and we want the community to hold us accountable as well,” she said.

In the fiscal year ended June 30, 2022, ASC made grants to local artists totaling $1.7 million, much of it going to artists of color. Figures for fiscal 2023 were unavailable, but an ASC spokesperson said he expects the most recent numbers to mirror the 2022 total.

When Terrell joined ASC, she said, the organization allocated about $50,000 to support “creative individuals,” with the bulk of its funding set aside to support the city’s large, legacy arts organizations.

Shortly after Terrell was named interim president, the Charlotte City Council, acting on advice from City Manager Marcus Jones, voted to redirect millions of dollars that had once flowed through ASC. The city ultimately established an “Infusion Fund,” a public-private partnership, managed by Foundation for the Carolinas, to distribute its arts money. The fund hired its first arts and culture officer in 2021.

The move sparked outrage in some sectors of the city’s arts community, with critics accusing the city of favoring its legacy institutions in its funding over the diversity plan implemented by ASC.

In part as a result of the city’s move, ASC was forced to slash 40% of its staff. Terrell called those staff cuts “the hardest thing I ever had to do in my career.”

When asked whether the city’s cuts played a role in her decision to leave ASC, Terrell said they did not.

“I think the Infusion fund was a great project that really demonstrated what can be done in the cultural sector when you have more funding in the sector,” she said, adding that she wants the public to continue investing in ASC.

ASC’s board will meet this month to approve a budget for fiscal year 2024. The ASC spokesperson and he antiticpates that the budget will land between $10 million and $11 million.

As for Terrell, she said she was unsure of her next career move.

“Honestly, I look forward to taking the time to step back and just figure out what I want to do next,” she said.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Krista Terrell replaced Robert Bush as ASC president. She replaced Jeep Bryant.

Founder and publisher of Qcitymetro, Glenn has worked at newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Wall Street Journal and The Charlotte Observer.

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