The arts in North Carolina have long been a catalyst and cornerstone of downtown and neighborhood revitalization. Even during the recent recession, dozens of new art museums, theaters, and arts centers were built in communities large and small across the state, energizing city centers and small town main streets. To capitalize on this surge of public and private investment in North Carolina’s downtowns, a blue ribbon task force was appointed to create an arts-driven economic development plan for the state. From the task force’s report, the SmART Initiative was born.
What is a SmART community? One broad definition is that these are communities that use their distinctive arts and cultural assets to revitalize neighborhoods and downtowns, instill a strong sense of place and pride in residents, attract creative workers and cultural visitors, and create sustainable economic development.