Monday March 29, 2010 | Lawrence Toppman on Charlotte Arts

March 26, 2010 at 11:40 am | Posted in Coming Up | 7 Comments

Longtime film critic and culture writer, Lawrence Toppman, begins his fourth decade of chronicling the arts in our region. Larry joins us to look back on the last 30 years of triumphs, tragedies and missed opportunities he has witnessed while reporting on the arts. Join us for a reflection of one writer’s tenure in our region.
Lawrence Toppman
– Culture Writer and Film Critic, The Charlotte Observer

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  1. while it started as a tangent i think the subject of how people view history today and how it was viewed before the widespread use of computers would be an interesting topic for the show

  2. I couldn’t agree more – In reference to the ‘white bread’ attitude of Charlotte (non) theater goers, Mr. Toppman has hit the nail on the head.

    As a native of Winston-Salem and an alumnus of NC School of the Arts I see exactly what he has described as the unadventurous attitudes of Charlotte citizens. If folks don’t already know they like a show – they won’t go see it. How boring!!

    I’ve lived in the Charlotte area for the last 15 years and have watched the arts in the area become more and more conservative and ‘safe’. The arts organizations are forced into this because us finances.

    A truely sad situation –

  3. Mike,

    Charlotte is a business town that does not take risks…it makes money. Most Charlotteans buy the “top hits” of an artist and only knows those songs. Back in the day, you had WROQ and they played album cuts..this exposed the audience to a greater depth of songs. I am from Charlotte and my wife is 3rd generation: Charlotte is “milk toast”…that is not a bad thing nor a good thing…it is who we are.

  4. I would agree with Lawrence Toppman on his assessment that Charlotteans are unadventurous culturally. Having lived in both the Queen City and the Triangle, I have found the arts and music scene in Charlotte woefully lacking.

    The cultural offerings in the Triangle are much more abundant and that area tends to spawn and support its own local music scene — which is incredibly vibrant — whereas there is no local music scene in Charlotte of which to speak.

    Beyond the Avett Brothers (which came out of Concord, remember), I can’t think of any local, regional or national music group that came from Charlotte.

    Maybe it’s because Charlotte is too corporate, too suburban and less apt to support creativity than the Triangle.

  5. As a volunteer, and now the Operations Director for the Charlotte Film Festival, as we prepare for our fifth festival, I wonder what the areas appetite is for Indie films. Is our “modest” success a product of our limited marketing budget or is it “modest” demand? In a nutshell, how interested is Charlotte in film, beyond the mainstream?

  6. I work with Citizens of the Universe… being isolated in the theatre community, I have to agree with Toppman’s assertion that chances aren’t taken as much as they should be. When the South end performing arts center was open you had several companies working to provide various levels of artistic push. I believe the universities play it safe as well in the area- from CPCC, Winthrop, Davidson to Catawba. I heard Actor’s Theatre mentioned. They along with CAST are providing some of the higher end (budget wise) riskier pieces- I think this was mentioned with a caller. Even machine theatre got a shout out- they do original works. There’s On Q, Queens City who both do excellent productions not to mention Collaborative Arts- who did a show in apartments by the by- and Shakespeare Carolina. And to toot our own horn- The Citizens, who perform in site specific pieces as well as attempting to do those classics that Toppman was referring to. They are about to produce Uncle Vanya. And for international pieces you;ll find that we are one o the few offering that as well. So as far as theatre is concerned, we can be doing more as a collective of artist- not only to help each other, but to bring up the current level of art in our city. However- we are out there… do all we can on our own to bring it here as best we can. Now comes the question… what more can we do?

  7. Film, live theater and mixed media. Charlotte is unadventurous because of local history, reputation and sheer repression. The western Piedmont was a low skilled anti-labor manufacturing area where the human mind was capped and confined. Those in charge were self-limiting in pursuit of maximal income and cultural stability. Social conservatism is extremely compatible with fascist corporatism (as in Singapore) and so the smooth transition to police state globalism (locally). Charlotte actually tends to draw the more repressed and more repressive outsiders being transferred here for a job. Racists from Michigan, Ohio and upstate NY who had to lay low at home can now party openly at a Charlotte hockey game or on Lake Wylie. They laugh about as hard at the local white working poor underclass as at their Hispanic yard man or Black sales clerks. Charlotte is renowned for its sadistic cruelty and class discrimination. When we talk church attendance as entre’ we really mean the upscale established houses of worship. Some lowly houses of prayer might as well be homeless camps to the “opinion makers.”

    So before you goes out to “de show” or “da gain (game)” asskin the mouthpieces on local TV or the partnered up advertises at WFAE iffin it be OK. Read in Dubserver who’s on top in the latest wrastlin’ or get the drug-sex review in Crate of Loafers. (They still smokin’ menthols, Baby, just like Mr. Charlie told ’em. So who is the upscale, eddicated and brand loyal zombies pickin’ the winners? It muss be you’all! It ain’t LA and Berlin.

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