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Charlotte Top Nation in Arts Philanthropy

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The Charlotte Arts and Science Council is hoping that its new campaign (pictured here) will soar to the top again in national giving. Fueled by a strong commitment to arts education, the Charlotte ASC runs the most successful united arts campaign in the United States--surpassing even New York City. Artwork by Luquire George Andrews, Inc., of Charlotte, NC.

Led by Charlotte USA, the "New South" topped the nation recently in charitable giving for the arts, surpassing such venerable, "old wealth" cultural icons as Milwaukee, Chicago, Cincinnati and New York City.

According to research conducted by the Washington-based Americans for the Arts, Charlotte runs the most successful united arts fund drive in the United States. Charlotte in recent years has also led the nation in per capita and workplace giving.

With more than $10,023,599 raised in 2001, Charlotte ranked at the top in money raised for the first time. The 2002 campaign kicks off this fall. Other "New South" cities joining Charlotte at the top of the giving charts include Louisville with $7,388,086 and Atlanta with $7,186,794. Charlotte ranks third nationally in overall spending by a local arts agency.

Charlotte is also home to the Cultural Education Partnership, which focuses on infusing standards-based arts programs into the public schools curriculum. One of only a dozen nationwide (the Chicago Arts Partnership for Education and the Empire State Partnership of New York are two examples), the Partnership currently reaches 95 percent of all students (more than 101,000 out of 107,000) enrolled in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

Charlotte's penchant for giving is also reflected in the second place ranking for volunteering it received in a national study on "social capital" conducted last year by Harvard University. The study surveyed more than 30,000 people in 40 major metropolitan areas. Charlotte ranked near the top in charity, volunteering and religious involvement.

The result of this high level of civic engagement is an exceptionally high quality of life, says David Cline, chairman of the Charlotte Regional Partnership, which markets the 16-county area in North and South Carolina known as Charlotte USA.

"Charlotte USA attracts business expansions and relocations because we're known for striking a healthy balance between work, family and community," says Cline, noting that more than 35,000 individuals volunteer each year in Charlotte area schools. "Charitable giving, voluntarism and support of the arts, education and cultural institutions are a critical part of that mix."