Artwork for podcast The Change Podcast by Reframe
Modernizing The Arts & Culture Sector: Truth Telling and Creating More Equitable Spaces
Episode 419th December 2023 • The Change Podcast by Reframe • Jeffrey L. Bowman
00:00:00 01:13:13

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Explore the transformative journey undertaken by the Arts and Science Council (ASC) in Charlotte, North Carolina as they navigate the complex landscape of arts funding, equity, and community engagement.

Krista Terrell is an intentional, proactive, thoughtful, consistent, disciplined, focused, ethical, and proven results-driven leader with in-depth knowledge of the nonprofit arts and culture sector for over 20 years.

She is a champion of and influence for representation, equity, inclusion, and accessibility.

At one time, she was chosen by the Arts & Science Council (ASC) Board of Directors to serve as Acting President and later President to lead during a time of organizational change. She right-sized the organization and subleased office resulting in an 87% recovery rate over 8 years. 

She helped secure public and private funding that led to $1.7m investment in creative individuals, a first in the organization’s history.

In this episode, Krista delves into the ASC's commitment to address historical inequities, the strategic decisions guiding their funding practices, and the challenges faced in balancing the city's economic priorities with a community-centric approach. She also brings to light the ASC's proactive initiatives, transparency, and vision for a future where the arts not only thrive but truly represent and serve the diverse and evolving population of Charlotte Mecklenburg.

What you will learn from this episode:

  • Discover an Equity Report that outlines the transparency efforts aimed at fostering trust and garnering community support for ASC's mission driven by equity.
  • Gain insights into the challenges faced by the Arts and Science Council president and the strategic action steps taken to navigate the journey towards a more inclusive and equitable organization.
  • Explore the pivotal role of storytelling in bringing about positive change and garnering support for the Arts and Science Council's initiatives in the arts and culture sector.

"We bring people along by constantly beating the drum about the importance of equity, how being equitable is mandatory for the future of arts and culture, from a participatory standpoint, but also from a funding standpoint. " - Krista Terrell

Topics Covered:

03:50 - Krista's professional background, her career's big influence, and how she successfully ended up in a career in PR and the arts and culture

13:41 - How the Arts and Science Council originated, its mission, how it's funded

23:05 - Demographic changes, ongoing challenges, initiatives to ensure funding[Culture Block Program], and fostering relationships between the arts and local community

31:24 - Advocating from a top-down to a bottom-up approach, her concept of a people leader, and shift from a grind culture to intentional work

37:48 - Stepping into the Arts Society Council president role: confronting funding cuts and revenue decline and bold actions she took to reshape the organization's direction

43:22 - Talking about the ASC's journey towards equity as contained in an Equity Report revealing historical funding disparities and issuing a public apology for past inequities. 

53:00 - Speaking the truth and being equitable even in the face of potential backlash and storytelling as a means to bring people along on the journey towards equity in arts and culture funding.

61:00 - The importance of transparency and equity in funding and discussing the gap in addressing the needs of all residents in Charlotte concerning arts and culture. 

01:14:08 - The future of the Arts and Science Council (ASC) in terms of the funding as well as capacity-building perspective

Key Takeaways:

"Everything starts with your team. It's really important to nurture them to care for them, to empower them so that they have those growth opportunities."- Krista Terrell

"You're not going to be able to keep every donor, every person. And that's okay. But how I lead is what is in the best interest of the organization."- Krista Terrell

"For me, as well as my team members, we all said, we are not going to talk about the good stuff that we're doing. It is important to tell our history and to tell the truth about the organization's history of inequities."- Krista Terrell

Resource Mentioned:

People mentioned in the interview:

  1. Eddie Torres - Leader of Grantmakers in the Arts
  2. Liz Fitzgerald - President of The Cabarrus Arts Council
  3. Sherry Waters - Former colleague of ASC
  4. Kim McMillan - Mentor and former colleague of ASC
  5. Bernie Petit - ASC team member, Proven public relations and storytelling professional
  6. Hannah Hassan - Local storyteller and poet
  7. Barbara Ferguson - Founder of Afro-American Children's Theater

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