SmART Initiative

§ SmART Kinston & Thomas Sayre

SmART Kinston is the latest member of the NC Arts Council’s SmART Initiative. As you may know from my earlier post, there are wonderful and inventive things going on in downtown. The latest is the installation of an array of earthcast sculptures by my friend, the artist Thomas Sayre. (There is a really interesting article about Thomas in the Walter Magazine.)

Probably Thomas’ most famous earthcast is at the NC Museum of Art. Here’s a classic photo:


The latest earthcasts are in a new public space in the downtown Kinston Arts & Cultural District near Mother Earth Brewery and the Neuse River and its new walkway. You really should visit Kinston if you get down to the Triangle area.




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