President and CEO of the Gantt Center on its growth, the impact of its exhibitions and art closing the cultural divide

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Via The Harvey B. Gantt Center

The CharlotteFive Podcast team wanted to take a look at the Gantt Center and the art scene in Charlotte, so we brought on David Taylor, president and CEO of the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts and Culture.

Besides the comments listed below, click and listen to hear Taylor discuss the Gantt Center’s role after the 2016 protests/demonstrations, gentrification, the center’s ties with Charlotte’s corporate community, the creation of a millennial advisory board for the center, the impact of their exhibitions, the role of the Gantt center over the next decade and more.

We also recently welcomed the center’s namesake, former mayor Harvey B. Gantt, onto the podcast to discuss education and the current state of race relations in Charlotte. You can find that interview here.

How much change have you seen in the center since its creation?

“What we’ve seen is really an evolution, in a sense, of the role that the center needs to play today versus 40 years ago. In 1974, life was much different. At that time, one of the costs of integration, particularly for the African American community, was we lost businesses, we lost communities and there was a sense of losing our culture. So, organizations like the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Afro American Cultural and Service Center [legal name for the Gantt Center] were created. When we were created in 1974, it was really for African Americans and about African Americans. As we moved to 2009, we moved to the now Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts and Culture, it’s about a celebratory story of African American people, but it’s for everyone.”

Last year, you launched a $10 million endowment campaign. How is that going? What will it go towards? 

“It’s going well, but we are not complete yet. Our goal is to really work during these first six months of the year to try and bring this to a wrap. This endowment is targeted to support our programming. To take what we think is good work and make it sustainable great work. We just talked about some social initiatives – part of it will support that. [It will help support] things like exhibitions that we can bring in, community downloads and town hall conversations that we can put together.”

What exhibits are you currently featuring?

“We’ve built this series around collecting and preserving African American art. We think it’s important to preserve the history of African Americans and it’s contained in art in many ways. We have two great exhibitions by collectors that kind of shows that because we want the community to become more and more comfortable with the idea of collecting and preserving the art. You can come in and see the Judy and Patrick Diamond collection. They have a great collection and story about two humble and average people building an amazing collection Then we have Dr. Dianne Locke, who’s got over a thousand pieces in her collection. We do have an example of women artists that she has shared with us.”

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The CharlotteFive Podcast — presented by The Charlotte Observer and powered by OrthoCarolina — is a weekly podcast that aims to get you Charlotte Smart, Fast with fun, interesting and useful news about the city. It’s co-hosted by Sean Clark-Weis and Sallie Funderburk and is a production of the Charlotte Observer and 2WAVES Media.

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Photos: Gantt Center

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