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Q and A with Patrick Diamond

by Mark Peres

February 7,2008

Tell us about the new AACC.

As part of Charlotte’s Cultural Arts Facilities Master Plan, the AACC will move into a new four-story, 44,000 square-foot multi-use cultural center on Stonewall Street between South Tryon and College Streets. The new center will feature three state-of-the-art galleries, classrooms, presentation spaces and a multi-purpose theater/lecture hall facility. Planning is currently underway to offer truly outstanding art exhibitions, engaging presentations and lecture programs by local, regional and national museum and art professionals. Gantt Center members, supporters and visitors are in for an exciting new cultural experience. The Gantt Center will also offer its audiences theater productions, films, musical events as well as serve as a venue for private receptions and community gatherings. The award winning building design offers a roof top terrace, a street level atrium and a museum store. The name of the AACC will officially change to the Harvey B. Gantt Center African-American Arts and Culture.

What is your charge?

My job is to raise $3.5 million in gifts and pledges within the next 12 to 18 months. We have recruited an outstanding team of volunteers who will help achieve our fund goal. It is an achievable goal and the Board of Directors and staff are very confident that the Charlotte community and friends of the arts will support our Founders Campaign and help us to realize the vision of the new cultural center. With the many significant components of the Facilities Master Plan currently under construction, this is a unique and cosmopolitan period for our community and we’ll all be enriched by the new arts experiences that we’ll be able to enjoy, be inspired by and learn from.

How does naming the new center after Harvey Gantt help your efforts?

Harvey Gantt is one of the most extraordinary and well respected individuals in our city. He is a distinguished community leader, successful businessman, statesman, family man, friend, civic leader, supporter of the arts and he and his spouse are avid art collectors. He is much more than an architect who designs tall buildings and big structures, he is a community builder, a true leader and wonderful human being. I love him. Harvey has presented us with a tremendous gift in allowing the new facility to be named in his honor. Literally thousands of Charlotte citizens, myself included, have personal Harvey Gantt stories, where he took the time to make a difference in our lives. Harvey has a city-wide, region-wide and national reputation, people near and far will support the new cultural center. Our plans are to go everywhere where Harvey has friends and everywhere that we can find personal Harvey Gantt stories.

Will the programming of the new center be any different than the current center?

We’re an arts and cultural center. We’re excited about the possibilities that the new facilities will offer in terms of exhibitions and activities around exhibitions. We’re in conversation with museum professionals, artists, major collectors, scholars and curators from different parts of the country. We’re building a relationship with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, with Dr. Richard Powell, Duke University Art Department, and with Lonnie Bunch, the founding director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. We have also had the good fortune to receive support from nationally recognized artists Elizabeth Catlett, Jonathan Green and David Driskell. We are working to identify additional artists who might also want to support our development efforts.

What are your thoughts on African American philanthropy in Charlotte?

I’m encouraged by the broad range of philanthropy and other types of giving that African Americans are now providing in Charlotte. We have black professionals throughout the community. Black professionals are partners in legal and medical practices, have executive positions at our leading financial institutions and other businesses and a growing number are extremely successful entrepreneurs. We have a base of African Americans who have the financial wherewithal to provide significant support for the new center and other worthy causes. It’s very important to note that our development efforts for the new Gantt Center will engage the entire community and we will be asking all of our citizens, of all races and nationalities, to support this historic project.

What keeps you up? Any worries?

None. For years I have wanted to close-out my work life in a full-time arts related role. This is a dream job for me. I’m excited everyday about the opportunity that I have to play a small part in the realization of a new cultural center honoring Harvey Gantt, a personal friend, fellow South Carolinian and a history maker. I am also extremely excited about the new facility and what it will mean to the broader Charlotte community, region and country. And I would like to encourage all of our citizens to support the current 2008 Arts & Science Council’s Annual Fund Drive. This year’s goal is $11.2 million dollars. Approximately 38 local arts organizations and many individual artists benefit from the financial support provided by the ASC. Invest in our city. Invest in the arts.

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