The Kinston African American Music Park and other arts-related developments in the City of Kinston have demonstrated the potential of arts-driven strategies for community and downtown development. Partially as the result of this success the SmART Kinston Foundation has been selected as the newest member of the NC Arts Council’s SmART Initiative.
To keep up with SmART Kinston check out their blog.
Many local artists, businesses, leaders, and government officials have been key to redevelopment but the park is rightly seen as an original spark to downtown renaissance. New development in Kinston includes the Chef & the Farmer Restaurant famously chronicled in the PBS show A Chef’s Life and the Gold LEED certified and solar powered Mother Earth Brewery and Mother Earth Spirits. The O’Neil, in the renovated 1924 Farmers & Merchants Bank, adds a beautiful and quaint boutique hotel to the charm of downtown. Its restoration won the state chapter of the American Planning Association 2014 award for best historic renovation.
An exciting new development in an historic neighborhood adjacent to downtown is the city-designated Mitchelltown Arts & Cultural District. In the last five years more than 2/3 of the homes have been renovated from dilapidated conditions back to or better than their original state.
SmART Kinston, which I’ve worked with since its
creation, has developed an artist relocation program to encourage a stronger artist community within Mitchelltown. Artists are offered relocation grants and other incentives and, because of the cultural district designation, can sell their art from their residences.