‘Take more chances, dance more dances’
Mint Board Member Charlotte Wickham is stepping out to support The Mint Museum
By Michael J. Solender
After Charlotte Wickham relocated to Charlotte from New York City with her husband in 2008, she knew she wanted to get involved with supporting the arts and cultural community in Charlotte. While she couldn’t know it at the time, her enthusiasm for, and recognition of, how arts engagement impacts the development of children and young adults in her newly adopted community would lead her to dancing her heart out in support of The Mint Museum.
Wickham, a Mint Museum Board of Trustees member, is one of six local community leaders paired with a professional dancer from the Charlotte Ballet in its annual Dancing with the Stars of Charlotte Gala. The event will take place March 2 at the Knight Theater to raise funds that support the Charlotte Ballet and the local leader’s charity of choice. Wickham has selected The Mint Museum and earmarked funds raised to support museum admission for Charlotte-area K-12 school children and post-secondary school students.
A passion for arts education
“I’ve always thought that arts and culture are an important part of learning for children,” Wickham says. “I grew up in Raleigh. My family often went to the ballet, the symphony, and to the museums. That was such a rich part of our life. Many studies show how art, dance, and music help develop children’s brains and help them to think in different and more critical and creative ways.”
Since 2020, Wickham’s role at the Mint is fueled by her passion for arts education and community engagement. She is a believer in exposure and access to the arts for all ages.
Wickham has seized upon the metaphor of taking positive steps and enthusiastically allowed herself to be “hotboxed” by her husband and a good friend into performing with the 2024 group of dancers to support The Mint Museum and the Charlotte Ballet.
“I believe life is often done best by embracing the places our steps take us,” she says in an email to friends. “This journey is going to be a bit different, and it makes the thought of participating that much more exciting.”
Different means physical for Wickham whose pre-dance assignment exercise routine has been primarily weekly Pilates classes.
Wickham is paired with Charlotte Ballet’s Humberto Ramazzina. The São Paulo, Brazil native began his formal dance training at age 8 and is in his fifth season with Charlotte Ballet. The two share a love for salsa, contemporary and classical dance, though Wickham is keeping close to the vest the pair’s ultimate three-minute dance and music choice a surprise.
“I don’t want to give away too much and prefer to tap into what I know will be high energy from the audience at the gala performance.”
Dance pairs receive support online at Charlotte Ballet’s Dancing with the Stars of Charlotte Gala site in the run up to the event with top vote-getter ($1 per vote) receiving the People’s Choice Award. Dancers who wow the judges with the “best moves” are awarded the Judge’s Choice recognition. Since 2013, Charlotte Ballet’s Dancing with the Stars of Charlotte Gala has raised more than $10 million including nearly $4.5 million for local charities. Funds raised via ticket sales per dance pair are divided equally between the pair’s designated charity and the Charlotte Ballet.
“That our [community] star dancers have the opportunity to generate financial support for charities of their choice has such tremendous impact for our city,” says Alysha Brown, Charlotte Ballet’s special events and volunteer manager. Brown coordinates all things Dancing with the Stars of Charlotte Gala for Charlotte Ballet and is the liaison between company dancers and their community dance partners.
“Historically we’ve had a variety of charities chosen for support alongside the ballet from housing nonprofits to other arts institutions in Charlotte. Charlotte Ballet is honored to play a role in this level of community development. The event is unlike any other in the city and shares an incredible amount of pure joy for those involved.”
In addition to identifying funds to support student access to The Mint Museum, Wickham is hopeful to encourage arts outreach beyond the walls of the museum buildings, especially into area hospitals. Her passion and enthusiasm for community collaboration aligns well with the goals of the Mint.
“Charlotte is one of our most dedicated board members,” says Todd Herman, president and CEO of The Mint Museum. “She is also an avid collector and incredibly involved in so many things that we do. I’m thrilled she shares one of the goals that our museum has, which is to collaborate with other arts organizations here in Charlotte. Her being part of Dancing with The Stars of Charlotte Gala fits her enthusiasm and her love for the arts. This event underscores the Mint’s role as a cultural hub partnering with organizations throughout the city and encouraging everyone in our community to embrace the arts.”
For Wickham, expanding her reach to embrace and support arts impact in the community is meaningful and more than worth the extra effort. “Museums are places of culture and conversation where we can think deeply and be empathetic,” she says. “We need places where we can appreciate and learn from others.”
Michael J. Solender is a Charlotte-based features writer. Reach him at email@example.com or through his website, michaeljwrites.com.