Letters and .com-ments on this page are in response to Tara Servatius' story "A Comedy of Errors," published March 28.
Competing with Cincinnati?
Thank you for your insightful article about Spirit Square. There's more behind the story, but you hit the high points and certainly made the point about the "creative class." It is my opinion from experience that a handful of powerful Charlotte interests tries to put controls on creativity, to ensure that it actually exists here. And it also brokers contributions between interested arts patrons and organizations taking a piece of the tab for themselves. All these controls and power plays actually discourage creative individuals who want to create a community of interesting, inspirational, controversial, edgy and fantastic art, music, dance, theater -- entertainment at its max. It was always reported that Charlotte is competing with Cincinnati in united arts campaigns. Nothing against this wonderful Ohio city, but since when do we want Charlotte to be like Cincinnati? Rather than try to compete with giving campaigns, why don't we try to compete with the most interesting programming? Don't we want to stretch our community to have other more progressive cities as a model to strive for, like Chicago, Minneapolis, San Francisco, New York, Washington, and even Atlanta? These cities don't have centralized united arts campaigns, but they have fabulous programming that is embraced and supported directly by corporate, foundation and fantastically generous individuals. Spirit Square was an organization and a building. When the Spirit Square staff had a disagreement with the Charlotte powerful, their funding of hundreds of thousands of dollars was denied to them, the organization died and the building sat there with not one organization staff and dedicated patron constituency able to take charge of its fate. It became a four-wall rental instead of a programmed organization of eclectic, educational, inspirational, and outstanding arts. Perhaps in Charlotte's usual fashion of tearing down and rebuilding, there might be consideration of re-creating the organization of Spirit Square and allow it to grow and thrive so that in uptown Charlotte, there exists a diversity of arts offerings that could compliment the traditional mainstays of our cultural arts up and down Tryon Street. Perhaps with less control by the powerful who may be forgiven as unconsciously short-sighted in this case, more creative ideas and programs will bubble up and grow with the direct support of those who love them.
And it could all happen at Spirit Square. I fear, however, it is too late.
-- Jane Weaver-Sobel, Charlotte