September 5, 2008
STUDY TO CONSIDER ARTS & TECHNOLOGY CENTER FOR CHARLOTTE-MECKLENBURG
Charlotte, NC – Does Charlotte-Mecklenburg need an arts and technology center to reduce high school dropouts and retrain adults for new jobs? The answer to this question is the focus of a study funded by local foundations, corporations, government, non-profits and individuals.
Over the next 12 to 18 months, the National Center for Arts & Technology (NCAT) will study the feasibility of establishing an arts and technology center in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The NCAT will assess the local need for and capacity to create and sustain a center that replicates programs of the non-profit Manchester Bidwell Corporation (MBC). The NCAT is a subsidiary of MCB.
The MBC and its subsidiary organizations are the brainchild of its president and CEO Bill Strickland. The MBC’s Manchester Craftsman’s Guild offers programs in ceramics, photograph, and painting to hundreds of children each year, 90 percent of whom get high school diplomas and enroll in college. MBC’s Bidwell Training Center provides adults with training and job placement in professional careers in pharmacology, medical coding and medical claims processing, laboratory technology, horticulture, culinary arts and other fields through partnerships with major corporations. In 2003, Strickland began replicating his successful programs in other communities. So far, three communities – Cincinnati, San Francisco, and Grand Rapids, MI -- have established centers as affiliates of the NCAT.
Over the past several months, Mecklenburg County has partnered with the Arts & Science Council (ASC) and the Charlotte Chamber to raise $150,000 to study whether the MBC programs can be tailored to work in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. ASC and Mecklenburg County will take the lead in coordinating with NCAT to conduct the study.
“Our community has many successful initiatives addressing education and workforce development,” said Mecklenburg County Manager Harry Jones. “But we still have too many children who don’t graduate from high school and too many adults without the skills to have self-sufficient careers. This feasibility study will tell us whether we should adopt approaches that have proven successful in other communities.”
Several individuals are joined by the following organizations in donating funds to support the feasibility study: The Knight Foundation; Advantage Carolina; Foundation For The Carolinas; Carolinas HealthCare System, Goodrich Corporation, Duke Energy, Wachovia, Arts & Science Council; Womble, Carlyle, Sandridge & Rice; Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson, Castle & Cooke; Keith Corporation; and Mecklenburg County.
“Financial support for this study exemplifies the widespread interest this community has in helping children graduate from high school and training adults for new careers,” said ASC President and CEO Lee Keesler. “ASC’s commitment to fund this study ties to our Strategic Plan by investing in creative innovation, access to programming and community cultural education.”
On Sept. 11, 2008, Strickland will visit Charlotte to meet with officials from Mecklenburg County Government and the Arts & Science Council, community leaders and donors. The media is invited to attend a kickoff session with Strickland in the Round Room of ImaginOn: The Joe and Joan Martin Center from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. In-depth interviews may be arranged, by request, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.