SmART Initiative: Tryon Street
Bechtler Museum of Modern Art (foreground) and
the John S. and James L. Knight Theater, part of
the Levine Center for the Arts.
Photo courtesy of the Arts and Science Council.
The highest profile corridor of major cultural institutions in North Carolina, Tryon Street spans a mile of world-class arts facilities and venues in uptown Charlotte. Recognized as a national center for business, banking and sports, the Queen City also features diverse arts and cultural assets that rival those of any city in the South.
The blocks along and adjacent to North Tryon Street are home to the McColl Center for Visual Art, McBride-Bonnefoux Center for Dance, Levine Museum of the New South, Discovery Place, ImaginOn, Spirit Square, Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, Light Factory Contemporary Museum of Photography and Film, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library and several galleries and arts and design businesses.
Artworks by Romare Bearden, Michael Hayden, Christopher Janney, Ned Kahn, Ben Long, Sol LeWitt, Arnaldo Pomodoro, Larry Kirkland, Thomas Sayre, Jean Tinguely, and others adorn the public spaces of the district through an ambitious public art program helmed by the Arts and Science Council of Charlotte-Mecklenburg. Construction is underway on the nearby Romare Bearden Park, a five-acre art park attraction in honor of the acclaimed Charlotte-born artist, featuring thematic public art and design contributions from contemporary artists Kendall Buster and Norie Sato.
In 2010 the Levine Center for the Arts, a remarkable new arts complex, crowned the southern terminus of this already vibrant district. It houses the Mint Museum Uptown, Knight Theater, Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, and Bechtler Museum of Modern Art with Niki de Saint Phalle’s popular “Firebird” out front.
In an extraordinary public private partnership, the City of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, corporate leaders including Wachovia/Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Duke Energy joined with five arts organizations to develop the mixed-use project covering nearly three city blocks in addition to a major renovation of Discovery Place. The city and county dedicated 60 percent of new tax revenue from an office tower that now is headquarters for Duke Energy through synthetic tax increment financing.
Participating arts organizations agreed to forego annual facility operating support from the city and the city converted those funds to debt capacity. The hospitality and tourism industry supported a modest increase in the car rental tax to meet the final gap in the financing model. The $120 million arts projects are integrated into the office tower and share a parking deck, loading docks, major mechanicals, and an auditorium as well as common elements for restaurants and retail.
To meet long-range programming needs of the new campus as well as other critical needs within the arts community, the Campaign for Cultural Facilities raised an endowment of $83 million. The Levine Center demonstrates Charlotte’s continued investment in arts-driven economic development and cements Tryon Street’s status as one of the South’s premiere cultural districts.