arts vision planning

§ CreateNYC: The Work Begins in Queens….

The October 25th NYC Cultural Plan kickoff event in the Bronx at the Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture at Hostos Community College was great fun and filled with energy. While it was informative as an introduction to the Cultural Plan process, it was intentionally not focused on the hard work of what we need to do to create and implement NYC’s first ever plan focused on culture.

That work (at least from the public involvement standpoint) really kicked off last night in Queens at the NY Hall of Science. Near the end of the 7 line, the Hall is basically in the same general area as the Queens Museum, beautiful Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the USTA Tennis Center, Queens Botanical Garden, and the Mets’ Citi Field. It’s in a great and diverse part of the city.

The Hall is a terrific venue and last night it was filled by the many faces of the city. All colors, all ages, all gender identities, and a boatload of languages were represented. There was great food and lots of kids running around and playing ping pong. We started with brief remarks before a dance and music performance kicked off the work. The Hester Street team did a great job of moving the process along but still giving us enough time to dig into the issues.

We worked at tables: equity & access, arts education, affordability, neighborhood character, and several for general arts & culture issues. (I was at the latter.)

queensmeeting-2Equity, access, and neighborhood character were key focuses for us though we did have a good discussion on how arts and culture affect overall economic and community development.

I haven’t spent much time in Queens except for a couple of visits to the Queens Arts Museum and walking around Long Island City and Astoria to visit MOMA PS1, the Noguchi Museum, and Socrates Sculpture Park. So it was very interesting to listen to the others at the table who had stronger connections and very different perspectives. I heard about pockets of Queens where arts and culture are not as much a part of the community, where access is limited, and where connections between different cultures are not strong. I was at a table of mostly millennial women and I heard talk of wanting to feel a stronger and more open interaction and a desire to fit into a richer cultural scene.

We ended with report outs by each of the tables (maybe 12-15) and there was much overlap but some veered off into different directions. One thing was consistent between all the tables: we can do better to make arts, culture, creativity, and shared history a part of every New Yorker’s life.

The next event is on my turf in Brooklyn. A good background graphic on the process is here and I’ve added parts of it below in a slideshow.

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§ The First Ever New York City Cultural Plan!


It’s hard to imagine that a 400-year old city which has historically been a world mecca for culture and the arts has never actually thought about creating an actual cultural plan. Now’s a great time as cities and towns across the world have started to examine and promote their cultural assets and milieu. The task was correctly handed to the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs or DCLA as its known. Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl is the perfect leader for this task.

hesterstreetlogoThe Hester Street Collaborative won the contract with a team that includes James Lima Planning + Development, NOCD-NY, BJH Advisors, and House of Cakes Design. It is a massive effort working under a nearly impossible deadline but the city made a great choice. To keep up with the effort bookmark CreateNYC.

The plan public kickoff event was held in the Bronx at the Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture at Hostos Community College on October 25th. It was a rousing event and a lovely evening. As someone pretty new to NYC (1st anniversary will be December 19th) it was wonderful to see so many of the people in the NYC cultural world I’ve met during 2016 including Charlotte Cohen of the Brooklyn Arts Council, Wendy Feuer of NYC DOT, Jennifer Lantzas of NYC Parks, Susan Chin of the Design Trust for Public Space, and Shirley Levy and Tom Finkelpearl of DCLA.alicesheppard

The event was excellent and very well attended. As I mentioned to Betsy McLean of Hester Street and James Lima of James Lima Planning, it went off like clockwork. It started with a rousing hour of short speeches and beautiful performances – just long enough but not too long. While all the performers were wonderful, Alice Sheppard’s dance was my favorite.

After the performances, everybody stayed for the after event with various informational tables, food, and conversation. I got to make a number of new friends and learned more about the process. It was a tremendous start! Here are a few photos I took:

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FYI, the next big workshop events are in Queens,


Come to an event! Through the spring of 2017 there will be borough-wide workshops, focus groups, round table discussions, and community-based meetings convened by local organizations. Keep up at Create NYC!

My Work in Arts-Driven Economic & Community Development

Trained as an economist, I have experience in public policy and economic, community, and workforce development within the for-profit, non-profit, academic, and government sectors. I have worked with a broad range of stakeholders including government agencies, businesses, developers and property owners, advocacy groups, and community associations.

While most of my career has focused on traditional economic development and modeling, over the last decade my efforts have expanded into creative placemaking, arts-based economic and vision plan development, and public art policy and management. I have become convinced that arts, culture, creativity, and shared history define who we are and provide a robust platform for organizational, community and economic development


I specialize in strategic planning and development for companies, non-profits, communities, and governments with a focus on placemaking and arts/culture-driven creative strategies. I also focus on planning and marketing guidance for creative businesses. Contact me if your organization or company needs to rethink how and what it does and find better and more creative solutions for now and the future. Click here for a pdf of my vitae. 

Me & New York City

I moved to New York about a year ago, never having lived outside the south except for a couple of years as a hiking & ski bum in Jackson Hole. I always figured it would be DC if I moved to a big city, but when my partner moved back to NYC I followed a few months later. I love it here: the people, the community, the subway system, not having a car, walking everywhere, the food and of course the nonpareil arts & cultural scene.

Detail of the Houston & Delancey St mural by Logan Hicks
Houston & Delancey St mural by Logan Hicks

During my time here I have met and talked with leaders in the arts including museum executive directors, senior officials in five city agencies, nonprofit directors, economic and community development specialists, and the private sector. I use the Arts & Aesthetics page here and social media to comment on the city’s streetart and graffiti, music, museum and gallery exhibitions, public art, and arts-related economic and community development.

I’ve visited over 25 museums, some several times, from the small but growing Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay & Lesbian Art to the mother of them all, the Met. I’ve walked all over the city, been in 123 subway stations, taken a boat tour of Manhattan architecture and another of the Gowanus Canal, and visited the beaches at Coney Island and the Rockaways.

Bjarke Ingels's VIA 57th West
Bjarke Ingels’s VIA 57th West

I’ve seen a remarkable version of A Streetcar Named Desire at Brooklyn’s St. Ann’s Warehouse, cheered the Brooklyn Cyclones, booed the Yankees, jogged through Prospect Park innumerable times, been to countless concerts, and, well, you get the picture.  It has been more than I ever imagined. As Tom Wolfe noted, “One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.” Je suis New York.

My Work before NYC

I loved what I did in my last decade in North Carolina, namely working in the creative economy. At RTS in Chapel Hill I worked across the country helping states, regions, and cities think and work strategically. So, for example, we helped the fisheries industry in and around New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. We assisted the state of South Dakota rethink its technology focus in higher education and led Montana in developing regional economic development plans. We worked in the creative economy both measuring its size and helping places use the creative economy as an economic engine. That included work in Colorado, Montana, Piedmont North Carolina, Vermont, and myriad other places small and large.

Courtney Dodd piece from Penland in the NC mountains
Courtney Dodd piece from Penland in the NC mountains

As Director of Creative Economies at the North Carolina Arts Council from 2012-2015 I led the SmART Initiative, the state’s preeminent arts-driven economic and community development program. We worked with communities across the state, large and small, to use arts, culture, shared history, and creativity to build stronger economies and communities. I’ve included a number of posts that describe some of those projects.

This interview with AJ Fletcher Foundation Executive Director Damon Circosta describes my work in arts-based development. The Foundation has been a critical funder of the SmARt Initiative.

Below are key specializations.

• Creative Placemaking • Economic Development • Arts-based Development
• Public Art Management • Streetscapes & Wayfinding • Grant Writing
• Strategic Action Planning • Art Vision Planning • Public Policy
 • WordPress Web Development • Photoshop CC 2017 Suite • Social Media