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Arts and Entertainment

New Arts & Science Council chief takes on challenging agenda
Krista Terrell takes over at time of change
Published Tuesday, April 27, 2021 12:00 pm
by Herbert L. White

Krista Terrell, named permanent Arts & Science Council president on Tuesday, leads an organization buffeted by changes in public funding priorities and its own history of bypassing organizations led by people of color.

Krista Terrell’s ascendancy to president of the Arts & Science Council is permanent.

The arts council’s board of directors announced Terrell’s hire, which is immediate. Terrell, who was named acting president in January, has spent 19 years with the agency, where she was vice president of marketing and communications. She is the second Black woman and second person of color to lead ASC, following Harriet Sanford, who held the position from 2000-04.

“I am excited about the opportunity to lead an amazing and thoughtful team as we transform ASC by centering community in all that we do, lead by listening, securing the financial resources needed and investing in the people, organizations, programs and ideas that move us toward a more equitable, sustainable and innovative creative ecosystem,” said Terrell, a Johnson C. Smith University graduate. “I am grateful for the board’s confidence in and support of me.”

Terrell’s experience and knowledge of ASC as well as her stated goal of supporting the nonprofit’s drive for cultural equity led the board to offer her the job.

“Krista operates with integrity and openness – much needed qualities in this time of great change,” board chair Susan Patterson said. … “I don’t think we could have a better leader for ASC at this time.”  

Terrell faces immense challenges at ASC, especially as it relates to fundraising and a reckoning on how the arts community interacts with communities of color. The city of Charlotte is considering whether it should bypass the council to directly manage municipal arts and culture funding – a role ASC has assumed for years. In February, an ad-hoc committee formed at the request of Mayor Vi Lyles, unanimously approved a plan to skip funding of ASC, which received $3.2 million for the 2020-21 fiscal year.

The panel recommends pumping $4 million into the city’s fiscal 2022 budget, which must be approved by June 30 and is contingent upon private sector matching funds for the arts and culture. It also would authorize city manager Marcus Jones to name an arts and culture commissioner who would oversee a board of advisors appointed by funders from the public and private sectors reflective of the community and would including artists, educators, artistic directors, industry executives and donors.

Charlotte’s culture sector employs 58,000 people through museums and arts institutions.

Coupled with the city’s initiatives, Charlotte business giving for ASC has declined in recent years, limiting what the nonprofit can offer in programming and grants.
In February, ASC released its first Cultural Equity Report, which described a history of bias in funding organizations led by people of color as well as efforts to foster cultural equity.

Of 61 organizations ASC gave operational support grants to during its history, only nine have been led by Black, Latinx, Asian, Arab or Native American organizations. Six such agencies get grants, which represent 16% of all grantees and 7% of ASC’s operating support grant budget.

“We are in dialogue with the city and hope that they engage us in the discussions because we are the ones who have been doing the work,” Terrell told The Post in March. “It is really important … to understand grant making is not just submitting the proposal and then cutting a check. There is a lot of coaching, counseling—a lot of working that is done between that process with organizations of all sizes, as well as creative individuals in that application process. The question for me is, ‘what is the infrastructure cost for the city of building this idea, when there is already the infrastructure here at ASC?’ We have been doing the work and continue to do the work in an equitable way.”

Terrell has extensive experience in creating and implementing community initiatives for ASC, including Culture Feast, where 1,000 people gather Uptown Charlotte to connect through the arts and cultural experiences; Connect with Culture Day and CharlotteCultureGuide.com, a gateway for accessing arts and cultural contact.

“Krista has been a steady force in the cultural sector and in Charlotte,” said Americans for the Arts Vice President of Equity and Local Arts Engagement Ruby Lopez Harper. “It is exciting to see her move into this leadership role and we look forward to working with her in our efforts to advance the local arts field.”


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