Founding Member Organizations
In spring 2021, a group of diverse artists came together to work with Mecklenburg County to transform an underutilized county building into the Visual and Performing Arts Center. Located on N. Tryon Street, the VAPA Center is a mecca for arts and live entertainment in the heart of downtown Charlotte featuring 5 galleries, 2-3 theaters, rehearsal space, practice space, and art studios for individual artists.
VAPA’s mission is to cultivate accessible exhibition and creative workspaces to inspire and to nurture the relationship between artists and the community.
• Nine Eighteen Nine Studio Gallery
• Gay Men’s Chorus of Charlotte and Women’s Chorus of Charlotte
• Charlotte Comedy Theater
• Charlotte’s Off Broadway
• JazzArts Charlotte
Nine Eighteen Nine Studio Gallery
Nine Eighteen Nine Studio Gallery – Owner/Curator/Art Consultant
Nine Eighteen Nine Studio Gallery is a private venue located in Charlotte, NC. founded in 2020. We aim to provide an accessible platform from which to nurture the relationship between the artist, collector and community.
The venue provides mentorship, skills training, networking and representation for emerging artists.
While we do offer services to all of our local artists, our mission is to have the largest & most diverse collection of work from Fine Artists of color.
The Palette Table – Founder
The Palette Table is a “roundtable” type group founded in2016. Its mission is to provide information and increased opportunities for artists of color through mentoring, skills training, administrative support and networking.
BlkMrktClt is a safe creative space for artists of color based in Charlotte, NC.
We are Black people who love all things Black culture. The good, the bad, and the dirty South.
We needed a space that would reflect how we see ourselves versus how we should be and have been seen by traditional arts organizations and institutions. We created a space that has become a central meeting point for other artists of color who believe in their culture the same way we believe in ours. By doing this, we have opened the doors of possibility for many local residents of color to explore and transform their creative pursuits into better and more fulfilling careers. In return, BlkMrktClt is now more than an art studio, we are our own collective community.
We support our community by hosting a variety of exhibitions and workshops. Our studio space and gallery give beginning artists a place to begin their professional arts careers. Our workshops can range from developing your photography skills to conversations about accountability and mental health in the Black community.
Gay Men’s Chorus of Charlotte and Women’s Chorus of Charlotte
Gay Men’s Chorus of Charlotte and Women’s Chorus of Charlotte, founded in 2006, is an active part of Charlotte’s LGBTQ+ arts and culture scene, area choral music ensembles, and the international LGBTQ+ choral movement. GMCC mounts at least three subscription concerts per year and dozens of community engagements.
Community engagement is central to our mission. During 2019 alone, between the main chorus and the small ensemble, 7th Son, GMCC conducted over 30 performances, reaching over 20,000 people across Charlotte and beyond.
Collaboration is a central organizational value of GMCC. Since its inception, GMCC has developed partnerships with over 100 other organizations, from churches and homeless agencies, to performing arts groups and youth service organizations.
Charlotte Comedy Theater
Keli Semelsberger is the founder and owner of Charlotte Comedy Theater, which as of 2021 is in it’s 20th year of comedic instruction, shows and corporate team building workshops. Keli trained as an improviser in Chicago under the tutelage of legendary improv instructors; Del Close, Charna Halpern, Amy Poehler, Mick Napier, Joe Bill and many more. She has bee improvising for over 26 years. CCT was the first improv theater in Charlotte and has been recognized as the Best of the Best many times and nationally as one of the top 50 comedy theaters in the US, boasting 13 performance ensembles (including all female and BIPOC ensembles).
Charlotte Comedy Theater was founded in 2001 by Chicago improv comedy veteran, Keli Semelsberger. The theater is now famous for its training center, and corporate team building workshops as well as it’s award winning show. CCT has been recognized as one of the top comedy clubs in the United States, has won Best of the Best numerous times. CCT has 13 performance ensembles including an all female team, a LGBTQ team, and an all black sketch ensemble. Owned by a female Army veteran, CCT prides itself on inclusion, activism, charitable contributions and community co-creation. When CCT closed in 2021, our shows and classes were sold out. CCT looks forward to leveraging their 20 year history and great reputation in Charlotte as an anchor organization in the Visual and Performing Arts Center.
Charlotte’s Off Broadway
Under the banner Charlotte’s Off-Broadway, Anne Lambert and her artistic collaborators produce projects that portray authentic female experiences, dramatize questions of social injustice and inequality, and illuminate the role women can play to advance socially progressive, transformative possibilities and solutions to enduring questions of gender privilege and bias. COB entertains audiences with provocative, innovative, contemporary work that explores popular culture, marriage, adult friendships, career successes and failures, and art.
By day, Anne is the Development Director for the Community Culinary School of Charlotte, training adults with barriers to employment for careers in the culinary industry. She has been a professional development officer and fundraiser for non-profit, arts and culture organizations for more than 25 years.
Ron Baldwin, Retired CPA, current Chief Operating Officer/Chief Financial Officer of JazzArts Charlotte, obtained a B.S. in Accounting from the University of North Carolina Greensboro. Ron had 30 years of experience in public accounting, including 8 years at both Deloitte and CohnReznick LLP. In 2013, Ron completed the Arts and Science Council Cultural Leadership Program and previously served on the Board of Directors at JazzArts Charlotte and Aspire Community Capital.
JazzArts Charlotte was established by Ocie and Lonnie Davis in 2009 to connect the community in the spirit of America’s indigenous music, jazz. The organization strives to be a catalyst for cultural enrichment and music education that brings creative inspiration to the lives of the citizens of the Charlotte region.
Levin Museum of the New South
Kathryn Hill has served as President and CEO of Levine Museum of the New South since 2016. During the course of her museum career, Kathryn has pioneered programs and engineered creative solutions for organizations large and small. Under Kathryn’s leadership, History Colorado raised millions of dollars to support exhibitions, programs and collections, and launched its first ever marketing campaign.
While she had worked for several remarkable institutions, like the beforementioned History Colorado, The Children’s Museum of Atlanta and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Kathryn knew Levine Museum was where she was supposed to be, because this has always been a place that is for, by, and about the community. Civic engagement is at the heart of Levine Museum’s DNA, and that mission spoke to her. It still does.
The McColl Center
Alli Celebron-Brown is president + chief executive officer of McColl Center, a nationally acclaimed artist residency and contemporary art space in Charlotte, North Carolina. In her role, Ms. Celebron-Brown is responsible for the organization’s vision, values, and strategies, while ensuring McColl Center is a source of creative inspiration, growth, and support in Charlotte and beyond. Since arriving in 2017, she has created a dynamic and sustainable model for the organization, grew endowed assets and legacy gifts by $4.6M, and cemented the organization’s commitment to putting artists first.
Ms. Celebron-Brown came to McColl Center with a distinguished career in nonprofit organization management. Previously, she worked at Foundation For The Carolinas, where she was the vice president and director of community programs and engaged in effective civic leadership programs. Prior responsibilities in her 20-year career include change management roles for arts and healthcare organizations in Maryland and Florida, and as a nonprofit consultant in Charlotte. She sits on the Johnson C. Smith University Board of Visitors and is a past board member of the Women’s Impact Fund.
Julio Gonzalez is a multidisciplinary artist. Julio cites the simple question “What if?” as a cornerstone of his creativity and practice, a way to approach his ideas from different sides and explore them to the fullest. He hopes viewers of his work will find themselves asking the same question and rediscovering their sense of interconnectedness, curiosity, and childlike wonder. The simple phrase “What if?” is the concept behind the name Wonder What If, a project of which Julio is the Creative Director.
Julio is a member of OBRA Collective. OBRA Collective, founded in 2013, is an interdisciplinary Latinx arts group based in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The Arts Empowerment Project
Natalie Frazier Allen, Founder and CEO of The Arts Empowerment Project (TAEP), is an attorney whose passion for the arts and commitment to advocating on behalf of at-risk children impacted by violence and trauma inspired her vision for TAEP. Founded in 2011, The Arts Empowerment Project is a non-profit, which breaks the cycle of violence and trauma through arts opportunities that ignite change in vulnerable youth.
The Arts Empowerment Project believes in using the transformative power of the arts as a vehicle to enrich the lives of youth who have been impacted by adverse childhood experiences, including domestic violence, abuse and neglect, community violence, and social and racial injustice.
Natalie earned her J.D. from The George Washington University’s National Law Center, and her B.A., magna cum laude, from Spelman College. She is admitted to the bars of the District of Columbia and Pennsylvania. She lives
in South Charlotte with her husband and their two children.
The Light Factory
Mert is a teaching artist, artist, and professional photographer who has been working and showing art in her native city of Charlotte for the past two decades. Mert received her Associate of Fine Arts from Central
Piedmont Community College in 2005. She then Studied at UNCC in the Bachelor of Fine Arts Program. She is continuing her artistic journey through grant and residency program applications.
Her current art focuses on alternative photography methods, particularly with wet cyanotypes. She is experimenting with themes of self-discovery and creating order in chaos. Mert is a 2020 Community Supported Artist through the Arts and Science Council of Charlotte.
9189 Creative Services
US Army Veteran and graduate of East Carolina University School of Art, Arthur Rogers has more than 25 years of experience as a Graphic Designer, Illustrator, Web Designer, Multimedia Specialist – [Photography, Videography, Editing and Motion Graphics], Social Media Content Strategists, Brand Manager, Print Specialist and Project Manager, plus 20 Years as a Post Secondary Education Instructor and Administrator.
Currently, Arthur is serving on the board of the Arts Empowerment Project, Co-Owner of 9189 Creative Services, LLC, and owner of Art Gear USA Apparel.