FIGHTING FOR THE ARTS IN LINCOLN COUNTY

Matthew J. Burton, Station General Manager 

Lincolnton, NC (L TOWN RADIO) 

In Raleigh there is fight for funds that would benefit not only Lincoln County but thousands of people throughout the State of North Carolina.  Both the North Carolina House of Representatives and North Carolina Senate have appointed members to the Conference Committee who will iron out a compromise between both budget versions.   The House Originally proposed a version of the budget to include 1 Million Dollars for the NC Arts Council Grassroots Grants and an Arts High School Graduation requirement.  The Senate called to remove the proposed additional Funding and would not have the Graduation Requirement within the proposed budget.  The Program in mention is called “$1 for The Arts”.  The North Carolina Arts Council distributes monies throughout the State of North Carolina and makes investments within the nonprofit arts and cultural organizations within all 100 counties.  With this funding they would be able to add additional funds to reach more than 10 Million Citizens within the State of North Carolina.  

North Carolina Senate

 L Town Radio reached out to Executive Director Deanna McGinnis of the Arts Council of Lincoln County asking her how it will effect Lincoln County.  “It is very important to our community because we fund about 6 or 7 different organizations each year (LTG, Communities in Schools, Lincolnton Downtown Development Association, Lincoln County Concert Association, Lincoln Cultural Center, Lincoln County Historical Association, Gold Hill Missionary Baptist Church) and within these grants this allowed art in Minority Locations.  It also allowed every 7th Grader in our County to see a live play. Sometimes this is the first and only time that they will be able to experience a live production. It allowed our kindergartners to see the Nutcracker Ballet. And for Black History Month it brought in “The Mother of Blues” Pat Cohen and Gold Hill Missionary Baptist Church presented “Awareness to our Past, Presence and Future” to promote Social Equality.  The Concert Association was able to bring in an Award-Winning Band “Motown Revue”. We were able to give money to Heafner Williams Vocal Competition that allows young men and women from across the region to compete. The Lincolnton DDA received money to purchase Metal Art and Benches to continue to beautify the Downtown Landscape. Without this funding none of this will be possible. We want to be able to continue to see Art and Culture grow and the ability to continue to give to our local 501(c)3 organizations for the Betterment of Lincoln County.” 

“Mother Blues” Pat Cohen performing at the Lincoln Cultural Center in part of the NC Arts Council Grassroots Grant

Many local cultural Nonprofits in Lincoln County act as hubs for the local art and cultural scene such as The Lincoln Cultural Center and The Lincoln Theatre Guild.  L Town Radio spoke to the heads of both groups which provide entertainment and reaching patrons of all ages.  Cathy Davis, Executive Director of The Lincoln Cultural Center went on to say, “The grassroots grant money is not only important to Lincoln County but also to smaller communities throughout North Carolina.  It enables our residents to see, participate and experience an increase number of opportunities that pertain to the arts.”   Every year the Lincoln Cultural Center receives a Grassroot Grant to have every Kindergartner in Lincoln County Schools attend the live performance of “The Nutcracker Ballet”. 

 The Lincoln Theatre Guild, the local theatre group also receives monies to bring in children to see a live performance.  Joanna Underwood, President of The Lincoln Theatre Guild, was disheartened when she heard the news of the removal of the money.  “A lot of young people that attend our show that is funded by the NC Arts Council Grassroots Grants would possibly never have the opportunity to see a Live Production otherwise. It vital for child to have the experience of Art, Theatre and Culture to be a well-rounded individual.  If they take out the arts what will children write about in school. This funding affect thousands of children not only in Lincoln County but throughout the State of North Carolina.”  The Lincoln Theatre Guild used the Grassroot money to bring every 7th Grader in Lincoln County to see the timeless classic, “The Outsiders”, which is part of the 7th Grade Curriculum  

Cast of The Lincoln Theatre Guild’s “The Outsiders” during an performance of the 7th Grade School Show provided by The NC Arts Council Grass Roots Funding.
Rep. Jason Saine

In Raleigh the fight for the arts continues.  L Town Radio spoke to Rep. Jason Saine today and he ensured the fight for the arts would continue.  “The Senate’s proposal to remove the funding I think demonstrates that they understand that this is something that the House will fight for and support. By taking it out of their proposal they are trying to leverage that for other items in the budget that they want to see funded. The House will fight to retain the funding in the conference budget.”   

Sen. Ted Alexander

Meanwhile in the Senate, newly elected Sen. Ted Alexander also expressed concern and a commitment to fight for the Arts.  “It’s not uncommon for The House and Senate versions of the budget to have differences… but often in the budget negotiations… items will get back in.  I will not be surprised at all if that’s not the case here and I will be fully supportive of putting the monies back in the Senate budget where it belongs.” 

The Arts within Lincoln County is a precious thing.  It has stirred up a debate and has struck a nerve within the community.  The local state representatives have expressed their concerns and supports for the arts as they have seen firsthand the impact it has on the community.  Now the Arts Councils throughout North Carolina wait on deliberations and negotiations.  There is no exact timeline when an answer will be made. 

To express your concerns, you may reach out to House of Representatives Speaker Tim Moore at his office in Raleigh at 919-733-5734 or contact your local Representative and Senator. 

Matthew J. Burton

Matt is the Station General Manager of L Town Radio and the Host of The Nationally Syndicated Afternoon Drive Home Show “The Drive Home with Matt Burton” on L Town Radio and on Iheart Radio Channels.

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