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Q and A with Scott Provancher

by Emily Williams

August 8,2009

Scott Provancher is President & CEO of the Arts & Science Council (ASC). Prior to joining the ASC in July 2009, he served as vice president and campaign director of the Fine Arts Fund (FAF) in Cincinnati, Ohio. Previously, Scott served as executive director for several symphony orchestras, including the Louisville Orchestra in Kentucky and the Rockford Symphony Orchestra in Rockford, Ill. In 2000, he was named an Orchestra Management Fellow with the American Symphony Orchestra League, where he worked on assignments for the San Francisco Symphony, Aspen Music Festival and School, and Fort Wayne Philharmonic. Scott began his career with communications and development posts with the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra in Syracuse, N.Y.

What immediate issues do you see for Charlotte and its cultural community?

I might step back and tackle that from the perspective of what got me excited [about ASC] and getting involved in the challenges that we’re seeing. I think what holds true for both ASC and Charlotte is an amazing kind of positive energy to move the community forward. Even back before I was even considered for this position, I brought my team out to Charlotte to meet with the ASC and I walked away with a very encouraging impression. There was an attitude at the time of, “let’s tackle these issues, let’s get something done.” To speak to your point of the challenges that I face as a newcomer, I think keeping that positive momentum and inspiration and engagement moving forward is important. Even though times are hard, let’s still be inspiring.

Given that you are a strong supporter of symphony orchestras, what are your thoughts about orchestras losing their younger audiences; and, if applicable, how would you draw younger patrons into the Belk Theater to enjoy the symphony?

I think it does not apply just to symphony orchestras anymore; I think any cultural organization in general always has to stay relevant and continue engaging their potential audiences who they are serving. I think it all comes back to bringing folks into a conversation, listening to where our potential donors and investors would like to see the ASC play a role in the community and continue to actively manage that process of keeping those people close to the organization. An example I consider to be very positive within the ASC is the Young Donors Society. [It’s important to continue to keep] trying to find ways to connect the next generation of leadership and brainpower with Charlotte’s cultural realms, whether that is the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra or Discovery Place.

Being a classically trained percussionist, had you originally planned on pursuing a musical career?

Leading up to my college career, I had my eyes set on being a professional musician and that was a huge part of my early life and training. I was really excited around the bigger idea of getting the community interested in the arts and so I made the transition from being a performing musician to working on the administrative side of the symphony world. I still kept that passion of getting people excited about the arts and it helped launch my future path.

What’s your take on the use of technology and social networking tools to get the word out to the community about what’s happening around Charlotte?

I think it’s an absolutely positive addition. ASC is really investing in using technologies to connect the community to various arts and cultural organizations out there through the Culture Guide in particular. The bigger thought for me is that I think technology is just one additional channel in figuring out ways to speak to people on their own terms and find out what it means for them to engage, whether it’s through talking to other people who enjoy the same things as they do or posting some poetry on a website. I think it’s a great idea and ASC will continue to invest in the idea of using technology to speak to the community.

What does success for the ASC look like in our community, in the near or distant future?

I’m a big believer in the role that I’m in now. Especially in the early part of my tenure, my job is doing a lot of listening and going on a learning path both in the cultural sector and understanding the individual needs of the organization and their future plans and vision, as well as talking to the community leadership. My short term goal is to do a lot of listening and speak to as many folks as I can in order to understand what has been successful and what the challenges are for the ASC. I also think there is a great legacy of strong leadership at the ASC and I’m in the enviable position of having a lot of brain power around here to help me figure out the direction of the organization. I think it all comes back to ensuring that we are deeply engaged in the community and truly listening to deliver what the community needs and wants.

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