Danee McGee took over as Venue Coordinator for the Charlotte/Mecklenburg, North Carolina National Arts Program® Exhibition in 2012 and has been running this successful show annually since then. Danee is an engineer who works as a Project Manager for the City of Charlotte Storm Water Services. She has always been interested in the arts and had participated in the NAP show for years prior to becoming the coordinator. Her artistic interests also spurred her to start a small art and jewelry business called Just Beautiful LLC. Pictured at the bottom of this page is an amazing recyclable design that she recently produced for Opera Carolina. It was made to promote the “Girl of the West” opera and was made completely from their old marketing materials.
For the 17th Annual Charlotte/Mecklenburg County National Arts Program® Exhibit Danee collected a total of 267 artworks that were professionally displayed in the Government Center. The show has grown during the time Danee has been Venue Coordinator and we thank her and her team for their tremendous efforts. We recently reached out to Danee regarding her success with this exhibition and asked her a few questions. Here is what she had to say….
Q. What makes the National Arts Program® different from any other art exhibit at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center?
A. Most of the art exhibits are very small in number of pieces and participants. This is a large exhibit by comparison and encompasses a wide range of local government employees.
Q. Why do you feel that displaying employee artwork is important?
A. Art is not what most people think of when they see their bus driver or see a storm drainage inspector. This allows individuals to be seen in a different light.
Q. How have employees and their families responded to the opportunity to display their artwork in the government building?
A. In a very positive way. Almost everyone participated in more than one event.
Q. Why do you think displaying artwork in this setting is so important?
A. It is a human interest story. It is a story of how art impacts our lives in a positive way. It is a story about how we think we know someone but then realize that this person has an amazing talent that we knew nothing about- we discover each other.
Q. What is your favorite aspect of the National Arts Program®?
A. Every venue of The National Arts Program provides an exhibition opportunity for various types of artists. The Charlotte venue is very family oriented. It is nice to know that families are spending time together making art and that the National Arts Program is the vehicle that allows this to happen. Families making art, displaying their art and sharing their art with others.
Q. Do visitors to the building respond to the employee exhibit?
A. Visitors to the building take the time to walk through the exhibit and view the art work. Many of the employees who work in the building or neighboring buildings have remarked that they look forward to the exhibit every year because it livens up the building during the winter months.
Q. How has utilizing online registration made the process easier for you?
A. The online registration process is very easy to use and provides a great data base to utilize for the art work drop off and printing of wall labels for the show.
Q. How did you hear about the National Arts Program®?
A. I was a participant for several years before leading the committee. I was made aware of the show through emails.
Q. What prompted you to join the National Arts Program® and bring this opportunity to the employees and their family members?
A. The City of Charlotte was approached by the Arts and Science Council 17 years ago regarding the opportunity of being a venue for the NAP. Over the past 17 years this has been a well received event.
Q. Is coordinating the NAP exhibit something that would fall into your daily job responsibilities? If not, how is it different?
A. As an engineer, I manage approximately 80 million in capital improvement and water quality projects. I have looked at this exhibit as a team effort. This is an opportunity for co-workers to utilize their skill sets in a different arena. For instance, our finances are handled by admin in City Finance, I manage the exhibit like one of my projects, our communications are handled by those who work in the City’s Corporate Communications Department, the presentations and graphics are created by a graphics designer who works for CATS, and our sponsorship is now being coordinated by someone experienced in corporate fundraising.
Q. Can you tell us how art has had a positive impact on your personal life?
A. My mom was an artists who raised two engineers. Art has always been a part of my personal life- music, design, painting, photography etc. It is relaxing and an opportunity to be creative.
Q. How did you get started in the art field or have you always been involved in the arts?
A. I have always been involved in the arts.
Q. Are you an artist yourself? If so, what is your favorite medium or subject? Did you enter the NAP show?
A. I entered the NAP art show for a few years before being on the committee. Since I have been the coordinator for this event I display my artwork for the event but don’t enter my pieces to be judged or awarded. I have had favorite mediums at different times in my life. Right now I am enjoying recyclable design because it provides me an opportunity to participate in runway shows. This is more interactive with an audience and as an artist I think that we can sometimes become too solitary in creating and displaying our art.
Q. Is there anything else you want to add? Comments about the program, etc.
A. I think the underlying theme of the National Art Program is that it provides an opportunity for those who do not typically have a venue for displaying their artwork. Over the past several years that I have chaired the committee our focus has been on ways for the Artists to grow in their medium and find connectedness to art opportunities in the community. We have also focused on ways to draw more citizens to the exhibition. There are a variety of ways that we have supported this focus; free classes, marketing outreach, allowing art work to be for sale, etc.
Over the past two years we have opened up this event to Charlotte-Mecklenburg School employees and their families. As a result of doing this we have a multitude of art teachers participating in the exhibit and the quality of work in the professional category has skyrocketed. The success of our venue and its growth over the past several years is due to the committee members. They constantly press for ways to reach our focus goals because they believe in this program. Every year the committee thinks of new and better ways to make this program grow.