Arts & Culture Partnership Fund to help local groups

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 29, 2016

By Elizabeth Cook

Community leaders have formed a new nonprofit to ensure Rowan County’s cultural scene continues to flourish.

The Salisbury-Rowan Arts and Culture Partnership Fund started to take shape after Barbara Perry, chair of the Salisbury Public Art Committee, read about Hugh McColl’s efforts to support the arts in Charlotte. The former CEO of Bank of America, MColl raised $34 million in pledges from 2012 to 2014 to underwrite Charlotte’s cultural sector.

“In order to have a great city, you have to have great arts and professional sports,” McColl told the Charlotte Observer. “I got it in my head that we’ve got to do something about it.”

Thrive, as the Charlotte campaign was called, was designed to pay out over a decade, some of it in matching grants that challenge organizations to raise money to get money, the Observer reported.

McColl’s efforts gave Perry inspiration.

As head of the Master Plan Committee for the Salisbury-Rowan Convention & Visitors Bureau, she had recently pulled together leaders of major arts groups to explore their needs. Their unanimous answer: money.

“They’re all hanging on by a thread,” Perry said.

Perry worked with Lynn Raker, urban design planner, and Edward Norvell, vice chairman of the Salisbury Public Art Committee, to create a fund to support arts groups here — the Salisbury-Rowan Arts and Culture Partnership Fund.

With a goal of $140,000 to $160,000 for the first year, Perry, Norvell and Raker plan to seek donations from businesses , organizations and individuals who are not already giving to arts organizations.

To get started, however, the fund has sought and received $10,000 donations from Salisbury Community Foundation, Rowan Arts Council and Salisbury-Rowan Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Requests have been submitted to the city and county, as well as Duke Energy Foundation.

A target has been set for  $50,000 in “new” corporate donations. Pledges may be made over a five-year period.

Salisbury Community Foundation is receiving the donations and will help with the selection process when it’s time to award grants.

Longterm, organizers envision the Salisbury-Rowan Arts & Culture Partnership Fund relieving arts organizations of some of day-to-day fundraising so they can focus on building endowments.

Goals of the fund are:

ν Sustainability of local arts & cultural organizations.

ν Help stabilize key organizations and raise endowments.

ν Offset reduction in federal, state, local and philanthropic giving.

ν Ensure Salisbury will remain a leader in arts and culture education, recreation and tourism.

ν Promote the arts as an economic catalyst.

ν Provide incentives for innovative operations and programming that are inclusive, enriching and accessible to a diverse population.

If the fund meets its financial goals for this year, each of the arts and culture organizations would have an opportunity to request funds, which would not be restricted. The groups may even use the money for operational funding, something most  grant programs don’t permit, Perry said.

The Salisbury-Rowan Arts & Culture Partnership Fund may not pull in $10 million from Bank of America or set an overall goal of $45 million, as the Thrive Fund established by Hugh McColl did.  There aren’t similarities in scale, Perry said.

But they may not be so different in purpose.

“I know we share one thing with McColl,” Perry said, “ — a passion and belief that what we do enhances and contributes to quality of life.”