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Mecklenburg considers arts center

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The National Center for Arts and Technology will conduct a study over the next 12 to 18 months to assess whether a new arts and technology facility in Mecklenburg County would lower the high-school dropout rate and help adults trying to enter the job market.

The study will evaluate the feasibility of creating a facility for programs modeled after those of Pittsburgh-based nonprofit Manchester Bidwell Corporation.

The Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, for example, offers programs in ceramics, photography and painting to hundreds of children each year.

More than nine in 10 children who study at the guild finish high school and enroll in college.

To date, the center has created arts and technology facilities in Cincinnati, San Francisco and Grand Rapids, Mich.

“We still have too many children who don’t graduate from high school and too many adults without the skills to have self-sufficient careers,” Harry Jones, Mecklenburg County manager, says in a statement. “The feasibility study will tell us whether we should adopt approaches that have proven successful in other communities.”

Mecklenburg County, in partnership with the Arts & Science Council and the Charlotte Chamber, has raised $150,000 to conduct the feasibility study.

Organizations funding the study include the Knight Foundation, Advantage Carolina and Duke Energy.

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