Using the Arts to Create Social Capital – Profile on Arsena Schroeder
— Social capital comes in many forms. Accessing arts and cultural experiences is one of them.
By: Loán C. Lake, Communications Director
Social capital and access to mentors, or life navigators, is one of the most viable factors identified by children and youth as a means of getting ahead in life. In our Leading on Opportunity Task Force Report, the cultural sector – because of the pathways it creates -- was identified as a key partner in the effort to make Charlotte-Mecklenburg a community where every child has the ability to succeed. When children are exposed to new environments, people, resources, and experiences at an early age, they develop a broader, more holistic view of what is possible in their lives.
As part of its commitment to providing residents with access to arts and cultural experiences in their neighborhoods, The Arts and Science Council is hosting Connect with Culture Days, presented to the community by Wells Fargo - on Friday, February 7 and Saturday, February 8. Charlotte-Mecklenburg residents and visitors can attend museums and enjoy diverse arts, science, history and heritage experiences across the county for free with no limits on the number of programs they participate in.
Leading on Opportunity is serving as a Connect with Culture Day Ambassador because we understand the importance of having access to programs that could mean the difference between a child being recruited to the streets, finding a positive community to which they can belong, and a child excelling in school. Throughout this week, we will introduce you to local artists who have benefited from early exposure to the arts, experienced new career and life opportunities because of arts and culture, or who are using their creative talents to open doors for others.
Meet singer, songwriter, recording artist and entrepreneur Arsena Schroeder:
Schroeder was first exposed to the arts in a variety of forms as a first grader at Charlotte’s Merry Oaks Elementary School. The impact was lasting; however, it would be years before she could fully embrace her love of music. Schroeder was raised in a low-income household by a single mother who could not afford the buy an instrument. Instead, she focused on her schooling, which garnered her almost a half million dollars in college scholarships. Schroeder initially studied finance, later switching to communications, and was interning on Capitol Hill when others began to recognize her aptitude for music. She met and married her husband while still attending college at Pfeiffer University’s Misenheimer campus.
The arts have been life-changing for Schroeder, opening many doors and opportunities. “I have traveled internationally and collaborated with artists of other mediums through my talent,” she says. Drawing on her business and communications background, the R&B and Pop singer and song writer opened Dear Soul Music arts and entertainment in 2017, using her own social capital to provide resources for aspiring independent artists, providing them with one on one mentoring. Schroeder, an ASC culture blocks participant, also hosts concert in Steele Creek, Sugar Creek, North End, Pineville, and Huntersville.
The Pittsburgh native says that if she had not switched her focus to music, she would have become a school counselor. “My scholarships were paying for my studies in that field, and I think I would have been a professional student, getting my Ph.D., as long as there was funding for me to stay in school,” Schroeder says.
Schroeder encourages residents to attend Connect with Culture Days because of ASC’s commitment to the community. “From my personal experience, ASC is genuinely invested in the community, the arts and the creative, so I am a part of anything that they do. They aren’t just checking the to-do list. There is a true intention to ensure our community is vibrant and I hope that everyone will be a part of what they’re doing too,” Schroeder says.