Should Taxpayers Help Pay for the Arts in Charlotte? Debate Heats Up.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Should taxpayers help pay for the arts in Charlotte? The debate is heating up ahead of the November election.

That’s when voters will decide whether to approve a new quarter-cent sales tax increase.

“I profoundly believe in public funding of the arts,” says Mecklenburg County Commissioner Susan Harden.

Harden says the county doesn’t do enough to ensure a vibrant arts community in Charlotte. That’s why she’s pushing to get people to vote for the sales tax increase which supports parks, arts, and education.

“I want every kid across our community to have access to music, and arts. Experiences that we know build social and emotional skills, produce higher grades and academics,” Harden says.

The tax would generate an estimated $50 Million a year.

  • 24-and-a-half million would go to the Arts and Science Council
  • 15 Million for parks and greenways
  • 8 million for education and teacher supplements
  • 2-and-a-half million for arts and parks in several towns surrounding Charlotte

The effort has gotten pushback, including at Tuesday night’s County Commission meeting.

“As far as a walking trail, or the arts, or little frills you know, those are secondary. The people’s first,” said Janice Covington.

Former Republican commissioner Matthew Ridenhour is helping lead a bipartisan push to vote no.

“There’s just a lot of question marks, and folks just really feel like it’s not the right priority,” Ridenhour explains.

He’s teaming with Democrats like former State Senator Joel Ford.

“They feel like it should go toward something that really is an identified community need, pre-K, or affordable housing, or something like that,” Ridenhour says.