Charlotte Hires Globally Recognized Firm To Develop Long-Term Cultural Plan

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In an effort to support the local creative community, the City of Charlotte has hired Lord Cultural Resources to help create a comprehensive cultural plan for Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.

Lord Cultural Resources is described as an industry-leading cultural consulting firm that has led the creation and operation of cultural plans and spaces in hundreds of cities around the world.

In Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, officials say the firm will help develop a long-range vision and near-term plans to sustainably fund the arts and culture sector, position the sector as an economic and tourism driver, support collaboration between creative individuals and organizations, and promote equity and inclusivity.

“This is a landmark moment in our work,” said Priya Sircar, the city’s arts and culture officer. “The team at Lord Cultural Resources brings the experience, energy and enthusiasm we need to build an ambitious and achievable cultural plan that will serve our entire community and the arts and culture ecosystem for years to come.”

Officials say Joy Bailey-Bryant, Lord’s president for the U.S., will lead a consultant team that includes Charlotte-based community engagement firm Amplify Charlotte, and the national community and economic development firm Fourth Economy, which will provide data and economic analysis.

A selection committee chose the team because of Lord’s experience facilitating successful cultural plans in major U.S. cities including Dallas and Chicago, according to a news release.

Officials say the team also brings experience in public engagement, especially among historically underrepresented communities.

The selection process included a request for proposals from potential consultants, which Charlotte opened in February, and presentations given by finalist teams to the advisory board during a public meeting in April.

“Having worked in cities as large as Chicago, Illinois, and Bilbao, Spain, to as small as Decatur, Georgia, the Lord Cultural Resources team is enthused to work with the many artists, homegrown artistic places and spaces, along with world-class cultural offerings in the city of Charlotte,” Bailey-Bryant said. “This city’s arts assets are strong. Through this cultural plan, we are excited by the opportunity to integrate the arts into Charlotte’s robust business, education, tech, film and other sectors to achieve a shared vision and, most importantly, shared prosperity.”

Working under the eye of the city’s advisory board and the arts and culture officer, officials say the cultural planning team will facilitate a plan based on:

  • Robust engagement with residents, especially those who historically have been underrepresented in planning efforts; people in all areas of the arts and culture sector; and partners in other sectors.
  • Assessments of local cultural assets, spaces, needs, history and opportunities; changing demographics; community priorities and dynamics; and the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Analyses of how other communities position arts and culture for success, including through governance and funding models, and how they increase collaboration among individuals and organizations within the industry.
  • Realistic and measurable objectives developed among stakeholders throughout the community.

Officials say planning efforts will begin immediately and are set to finish in spring of 2023.

Expenses related to the new cultural planning will be funded through the Infusion Fund, a partnership between the city, Foundation For The Carolinas, and private donors to bolster local arts and culture over three years.