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By Aaron Fiedler, Arts & Science Council

On August 17, 2010 we set out on a two-year journey with a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to bring arts and culture to the people of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County through Random Acts of Culture™. On that day, 11 performers from Opera Carolina converged on the Atherton Mills and Market around 12:15pm singing three song selections. The seven and a half minute show surprised, delighted and excited the crowd. Afterward the audience applauded, asked questions and shook hands. It was an exciting experience and just the first taste of what was to come.

Opera Carolina surprises IKEA shoppers with a Random Act of Culture™

Since that time we have hosted more than 100 Random Acts of Culture™ with Opera Carolina, the Charlotte Symphony, North Carolina Dance Theatre and others at sites as diverse as Crisis Assistance Ministry, Charlotte Douglas International Airport and Belk department store. Two weeks ago we brought Opera Carolina to IKEA near UNC Charlotte. On a rainy Sunday the staff led three performers through the back areas of the store surprising shoppers at the cash registers, in the cafeteria and the bedding area. The very full store paused at each of the performances taking photos and video, and chatting with ASC staff and opera performers.

With thousands of people through on weekends, it was one of the best RAC performance locations we’ve experienced to date. The enthusiasm of the performers and the IKEA staff was infectious. With performances like the one at IKEA and so many others, we’ve been lucky enough to see how much our community values culture and is excited by the performances that are brought to them. From tears of joy to big smiles and more thank you’s than can be recalled, it has been a great experience for all involved.

ASC’s mission is to build appreciation, participation and support for the arts, science, history and heritage in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. Through Random Acts of Culture we’ve been able to do that and more.

Stay tuned for the remaining few months of the Random Act of Culture™ program. You never know when you might experience one!

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