2018 How-to Guide: Get Cultured

Emily Chatham, Charlotte Symphony Summer Schedule
Emily Chatham, part of the Charlotte Symphony Summer Schedule

Getting cultured is a different type of internal work, really.

And as difficult as it may be to believe, your resolutions don’t all have to be about you—a particularly healthy revelation, considering Charlotte at large could probably use your help in some way. I often find myself small-talking with every kind of Charlottean, remarking on the city’s growth, marveling at its ever-evolving cultural identity…but how many of us are actually supplementing that growth? How often do we embrace these exciting new facets of our city’s cultural identity?

I personally don’t do enough to let them know I’m glad they’re around. I’m not campaigning for donations to Charlotte’s various art outlets, though philanthropy is among the better things you can do with any surplus dough, obviously. Rather, I think we should all just make a more concerted effort to show up.


The city is practically one big exhibition: The gallery scene is quickly becoming one of the most diverse offerings in the Southeast, and the collection housed in our art-centric museums is arguably the best in the state. The Bechtler and the Mint are architectural masterstrokes in and of themselves, and there just happens to be a ton of wholesome culture housed within them. Simply visiting these institutions goes a long way toward keeping them around.

Charlotte’s performing arts scene is no pushover either. There are three more operas to see this season, and we’re particularly excited for I Dream—an R&B account of the last 36 hours of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life. Charlotte Ballet isn’t the tiny dance company it used to be, thanks to Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux and Patricia McBride.

Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux leaves Charlotte Ballet

The rest of this season and autumn of 2018 should be worth more than a look-see: New Artistic Director Hope Muir is honoring the past while leading the ballet toward things it’s never attempted before…and those things should be required viewing for all self-respecting art-loving Charlotteans this year. This winter, attend Innovative Works, or Spring Works, or Javier de Frutos’ much-raved-about The Most Incredible Thing (which makes its American debut in Charlotte).

I don’t really care—just catch any glimpse of what Muir and her dancers are bringing to the city, and come back for more in the fall. Even if you become a Blumenthal regular, and you think you’ve seen it all, there’s always the visceral experience of the symphony to remind you that, well, you haven’t. The marquee is always changing, and Charlotte Symphony Orchestra serves up a new, life-changing performance practically every week.

Thomas Burge, Charlotte Symphony Orchestra

Fact is, folks, the city is only as up-and-coming as its art presence. Grow that, and we induce growth in ourselves.