Community Engagement Showcase

This urbanCORE event will feature projects receiving CHArt’s Small Grants and CoA+A New South Global South Grants as well as other current arts and heritage work in Charlotte by CHArt affiliated faculty. This will be a lightning round of presentations who have engaged with community members on present and past work, followed by a networking reception.

Date: Thursday, March 28

Time: 3:30-6:00 pm (3:30-5:00 pm – presentations; 5:00-6:00 pm – networking reception)

Location: The Dubois Center at UNC Charlotte Center City,  320 E 9th St, Charlotte, NC

Parking: Available by University permit and the Park Mobile App, 422 E. 9th Street (gravel lot at the corner of 9th and Brevard)


If you have any questions, please contact Vicki Doolittle, Associate Director for Community Partnerships, urbanCORE, at


Social Impact of the Arts

Arts Based Social Mobility in Charlotte – Dr. Vaughn Schmutz (Sociology), Meg Whalen (CoA+A), and Jane Dalton (Art Education) are working with community partners on a NEA funded project exploring cultural capital in Charlotte, including how artists and organizations conceptualize and assess the social impact of the arts, what motivates participation, and how providers and participants describe arts experiences.

Advancing Inclusion in Museums – Dr. Jaclyn Piatak (Political Science & Public Administration) is leading a NEA funded experimental study of representation and arts participation to investigate the racial and ethnic diversity of art museum participants as well as the potential motivations and barriers to visiting museums. Her work promotes the urgency of increasing inclusion in museums and argues diversifying museum audiences is a matter of social justice.

CURatE – Event Collaborations to Create Spaces for Community Wellness – Dr. Janaka Lewis (English) is working on pop-up community wellness and art events and collaborations as well as ways to create reciprocal wellness communities, especially in response to post-pandemic returns to in-person spaces. A series of events at Dupp & Swat art gallery and event studio promoted repeated community connections and wellness.

Theatre as Community Research, Learning and Storytelling – Beth Murray (Theatre) combines qualitative research, applied theatre practice, and playwriting to support three kinds of community-centered collaborative projects, including original and adapted performances for young and community audiences, arts and inquiry projects, and multi-voiced descriptive examinations of arts education’s complex terrains inside and beyond schools.

Elevating Community Stories

Charlotte Atlas of Climate Inequality and Community Resilience: Dr. Tina Shull (History) and Michael Ewers (Geography & Earth Sciences), Marek Ranis (Art & Art History), and Adreonna Bennett (Atkins Library Special Collections) are examining the role of resilience to climate change and of social capital in environmentally and economically disadvantaged Charlotte communities through storytelling, arts, oral histories, and mapping workshops.

Charlotte African-American Cemetery Collective: Dr. Sara Juengst (Anthropology), Dr. Marty Gimson (Anthropology), Dr. Matthew Gin (Architecture), Dr. Julia Moore (Religious Studies) and Che Abdullah (Westside History Club) are forming a team to partner with community groups to research, document, and preserve burial grounds associated with Black history in the Charlotte region. This builds on current work the team has already done to support cemeteries.

Invisible Histories Project: Dr. Wilfredo Flores (Writing, Rhetoric and Digital Studies) is teaching a Reading, Writing, and Archiving Charlotte course in which students use digital media to create oral histories documenting and mapping events across Charlotte specific to Black, Latinx, and LGBTQ+ communities. This project offers students a grounding in the technological skills needed to conduct historical research and to present the results online.

Cherokee and Catawba Food Sovereignty and Heritage Tourism: Dr. Ashli Stokes (Communication Studies) and Dr. Joan Lachance (English as a Second Language) are collaborating on research with local indigenous groups in Cherokee and Rock Hill to document and promote intersections between tourism and food traditions. This is part of a broader investigation on identity, activism, rhetoric, and  food in Appalachia.

Heritage Placemaking through the Arts

Browne’s Ferry / Charlotte Strings Collective: Meg Whalen (CoA+A), Nadia Anderson (Architecture), Mira Frisch (Music) and Ashley Tate (Dance) are exploring the history and heritage of the diverse University City neighborhood of Browne’s Ferry and the adjacent Grace AME Zion Church. The research includes concerts by the Charlotte Strings Collective, which is committed to celebrating the music of Black composers through performance and education.

Ring Shout and Music Traditions –  Tamara Williams (Dance), Sequina DuBose (Music), students, and community partners are collaborating on reviving Ring Shout traditions that incorporate music, dance, and visual arts and are one of the oldest surviving spiritual forms still practiced by descendants of enslaved Africans. The project includes presentations/performances at two former plantations: Historic Rosedale in Charlotte and Historic Stagville in Durham, N.C. 

How We Got Here, Part 1: Margarette Joyner (Theatre), students, and collaborators from Theatre, History and English are researching the term “New South” and developed a performative piece that will give a clearer understanding of the complexities of the New South. The long-term goal is to explore the effects this new ideal has had on those of African descent and other communities by asking whether this a New South or the Old South wearing a mask? 

Threads, The Loray Mill Musical – Laura Waringer (Theatre) and Sequina Dubose (Music) have assembled a creative team of playwrights, composers, songwriters, theater directors, and performers to create an original musical based on the life of Ell May Wiggins, a textile mill worker, strike organizer, and balladeer who led the 1929 strike at the Loray Mill in Gastonia. The goal is to perform the original musical at the site of the historic mill.