CLT's New Cool Kid on the Scene: Culture Initiative | CLT Blog

CLT’s New Cool Kid on the Scene: Culture Initiative

Posted on 13 Jun 2009 by Desiree Kane

Painting by Arthur Brothers on display at Cosmos in Ballantyne

I go to my fair share of events in Charlotte. I go to clubs, I go to art galleries, I go to networking events, and I go to music events. Then I found myself at a Culture Initiative Art Social at Tutto Mondo in May and was captivated because I had never been to or seen anything like it.  I expected to go out for drinks at one of my regular haunts and got way, way more than that. What I discovered was something that contained all the workings of a performance art, dance music, and Charlotte culture festival. Tutto Mondo was transformed from a fantastic little urban-rustic loft to a vibrant, cultural nightspot that was melding, almost organically weaving, underground art, society & music into it’s social atmosphere. How could I not be intrigued? And, the more pertinent question: when can I come to something like this again?

Art at the Culture Initiative’s “Represent” show @ Tutto

There is nothing common about Culture Initiative’s events or its mission. “I love Charlotte and many aspects of it but I felt like there was a missing element of modernized art,” says co-founder Joel Andrew Tracey. “[By] going to gallery crawls, I wasn’t getting what I was looking for. It was either really hard to find or galleries weren’t welcoming, and restaurants had no focus on art at all. I wanted to create the experience I was looking for.”

Arthur Brothers shared Tracey’s frustration. Together, they shaped the vision of Culture Initiative: Establish a direct link between local artists and consumers.

Brothers held simliar monthly events in Charleston, SC, in 2001 to promote artists, musicians and fashion designers. “The events got bigger each time so I stuck with it until I moved to Charlotte in 2005, hoping to achieve the same thing,” Brothers says. “Unable to find the right partner to start things up with again kept me back.

Brothers and Tracey spent six months aggressively seeking and networking with area artists and musicians. Buddy Daigler joined them shortly after CI’s conception and continues to help them with music direction for events subsequently. “[Buddy] is the perfect fit for this project,” says Tracey. “He understands the atmosphere we are trying to create and is great at reading the crowd.”

Daigler is happy to help the pair accomplish their vision. “Unlike other events I’ve been involved with in the past, I really feel we have the right concept,” he says. “We want to expose diversity so that Charlotte’s art and music culture will grow.”  The effort launched December 18, 2008, with The Introduction at Tutto Mondo.

John Hairston Jr. paints at Culture Initiative’s “Future, Today” event at Loft 1523

Brothers wanted to give people an option besides going to a bar or club for drinks with the same old people and atmosphere. “We give people a full night of amazing art, multi-genre bands, DJs, and performance art, not to mention networking opportunities for everyone involved,” he says. “For each show we’ll add something new to create a different experience every time.”

Culture Initiative’s next event is Show&Tell: an eclectic arts showcase of Sight & Sound. This time around, the CI team is making the leap into hosting live music. The line-up includes The Hot House Heftones, Jocelyn Ellis, The Alpha Theory, Groove-8, Riddim King, Your Dirty Habit, Spencer Sapien, Josh Platinum and Dick Tracey.

During intermission, DJs will help re-direct attention to works by more than 30 artists.

“It’s like a gathering of the tribes,” says Daigler. “Attendance always includes all races, ages, and backgrounds — white collar, blue collar, locals, transplants. The music is diverse, always including dance, reggae, jam band, jazz, hip hop, soul and rock.”

Culture Initiative events aim to benefit the artists as well. Artists showing at CI events pocket all proceeds from sales of their work, which is what separates the project from most traditional galleries.

The organizers want to weave a web of people and creativity. “Showcasing these creative minds brings people together and inspires them to create more, giving us all something to look forward to and strengthens the community.” Brothers says. “We want people to leave feeling creative, stimulated and inspired. If these types of events were mandatory for humans, the world would be a better place.”

Artist: John Pundt — Limited Edition print with coffee/ink/deer blood from Culture Initiative’s Loft event

Want to get involved?

If you are an artist, musician and/or enthusiast, and are interested in participating in a Culture Initiative event, contact Joel Tracey ([email protected]) or Arthur Brouthers ([email protected]).


When: June 19, 6:30 pm.

Where: The Neighborhood Theatre 511 E 36th St, Charlotte, NC 28205 (704) 3589298

Age: 18+.

Tickets: $8 advance; $10 door.

Special offer: $20 admission includes a limited edition Culture Initiative print by Charleston artist John Pundt, and a 5’er for the bar.

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  1. Joel Andrew Tracey 15 Jun 2009 at 8:51 AM

    Big thanks to Desiree Kane and the cltblog staff for the coverage of our CI project and upcoming event, Show & Tell.

  2. Pingback: Creative Crossroads: Culture Initiative brings something new to NoDa | CLT Blog