I am the vice-president and secretary for the Chaddick Foundation, which donates money to various not-for-profit groups in Asheville. I am quite concerned by the comments recently made by Ken Michalove and others regarding the Asheville Art Museum [See “Disorder in the House” at http://avl.mx/xo].
Our foundation has donated to the AMM’s capital campaign, and I have been thrilled with what I have seen.
AAM Director Pam Myers and her team used just $100,000 in private and in-kind donations last year to overhaul 20,000 square feet of space vacated by the Health Adventure. She wants people to get a sense of what can be achieved. She redid the floors, painted the walls (and yes, she did some of the painting herself), added new spaces and procured the impressive entryway/bathroom/front room artwork, all done by local artists. It was all done with just $100,000 in private donations and discounts offered by local businesses who also agree with her vision.
My taxes go to pay for schools and sidewalks, even though I have no children and the closest sidewalk to my home is more than a mile away. Our foundation supported the Top-A-Stop program to shelter our elderly and handicapped, even though my family is dead and I do not ride the bus. We have given to the Western Carolina Ministries Mission, MemoryCare and the St. Vincent DePaul Society to name a very few, even though I am neither homeless nor incapacitated nor poor. Sometimes, as Americans and as Asheville citizens, our taxes are used for projects in which we are not particularly interested or personally invested. But we do it for the betterment of our community and country as a whole.
I don’t know if Myers will raise the $24 million that she wants for the AAM. But I do know that every penny I have given her has been used to create a space that will attract both locals and visitors. People complain that Asheville has become a place to eat, get drunk and get into fights. Supporting our arts and cultural events mitigates that, and will bring in a higher-income tourist who will spend more money, thereby keeping our property taxes fairly low.
In a town as small as Asheville, everyone knows everyone and there is no scandal in that. This, frankly, is the story of a very strong institution, an ambitious and focused leader and a board of directors who believe in their project and ask for others to do the same.
— Suzanne Hudson