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Diversity in the arts

ASC offers grants to Latino artists

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Mecklenburg County has a growing Latino population, and the Arts & Science Council wants the artists to leave their imprint on the community.

The ASC is even willing to pay for it.

With its Latino Initiative Program, the ASC is hoping to increase access to Latino arts, science and history offerings for Mecklenburg County's growing Latino population.

"It came about two years ago," says program director Cathy McCann. "We pulled together individuals in the community and asked how we could better serve the Latino community."

McCann says that the Latino Initiative isn't just for the artists and non-profit organizations, but for the entire community. The arts projects, which can include music, dance, visual arts and history, are there to engage all of Mecklenburg County's residents in learning more about Latino culture.

Any Mecklenburg County non-profit, tax-exempt organization or Latino individual artist may apply. Non-profit organizations must have a primary mission of serving the Latino community or must partner with a Latino artist or an organization whose primary mission is to serve the Latino community, McCann says.

"For example, the McColl Center for Visual Arts could apply for the grant, but they would have to partner with a Latino artist," she says.

Last year, McCann says that the ASC issued $30,000 in grants. Of the six grants awarded last year, two went to groups and four were handed out to individual artists.

So did art projects make a difference in Mecklenburg County's cultural awareness? McCann says yes.

"We actually report back to Mecklenburg County, and we have each participant take a survey and ask they if they would visit another program about another culture," she says. "We've gotten great responses."

This year, artists can receive up to $5,000 in funding, and there will be a free informational meeting on Feb. 12 at the Latin American Coalition, located at 4949-B Albemarle Road. The session is free and a Spanish translator will be available.

"Our goal is to celebrate different cultures in Mecklenburg County, and we're really engaging different communities," says ASC spokeswoman Krista Terrell. "[The Latino Initiative] supports Mecklenburg County's changing demographics as well."

The application deadline is March 14 at noon.

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