SMART INITIATIVE:

Beautify Burnsville

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Designer and national known public artist/planner Jack Mackie, who has worked closely with Toe River Arts, the NC Arts Council, NC Department of Transportation (DOT) and the community, is working with local artists to fabricate glass elements. Implementation of the project on US Highway 19E will began on the fall of 2017. The Gateway project is a key part of the NC Arts Council’s SmART Initiative for Burnsville that focuses on arts-driven economic development strategies to build stronger economies and communities.

The proposed artworks will showcase the work of local resident, regional, and national artists that will tell the story of Burnsville and reveal its treasured inventiveness, artistic heritage, rural mountain setting, and vision. The artwork will highlight our community’s unique characteristics: its artists, the Dark Sky designation, its minerals and stone, the seven of the mountain peaks east of the Mississippi that are over 6,000 feet, and Burnsville’s and Yancey County’s history, culture, and people.

The art will be both beautiful and practical. We envision artist designed benches, beautiful walkways and lighting, and other streetscape elements as well as dramatic artwork that will draw visitors and residents to our Town. Also, art and aesthetics will positively impact the economy and the community. We foresee a stronger and more vibrant downtown with more restaurants, galleries, increased entertainment options, and more downtown residents. Working with Healthy Yancey, the artistic vision will encourage walkability and more physical activity. We will build a strong arts market that will increase income for both Yancey and Mitchell County artists.


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The arts in North Carolina have long been a catalyst and cornerstone of downtown and neighborhood revitalization. In 2012 the N.C. Arts Council launched SmART Communities to incentivize more arts driven economic development projects in cities and towns across the state. 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.

Click on the links below to learn more about the North Carolina Arts Council SmART Initiative in Burnsville.

Thank you Explore Burnsville for these awesome videos!

Toe River Arts, in collaboration with the Town of Burnsville and the NC Arts Council SmART Initiative, has partnered with Yancey County, NCDOT, Yancey County Economic Development Commission (EDC), and many community partners, businesses, and residents.

Susan Martin | Ron Powell | Rita Ann Meeks | Gary Perko | William Baker | Armin Wessel | Wanda Proffitt | Katherine Owens | Jeanne Tyner | Frances Strawn | Bunnie McIntosh | Jack Mackie | Carl Peverall | Greg Yuzik | Betty Ann & Earl Young | JM Wallace | Don Walker | Martha Tyner | Harrison Tyner | Willis Ryan |
Sherry Robinson | J. Alan Ray | Julia Norris | Patricia McIntosh | Carl & Bill McCullom | Kate Vogel & John Littleton | Ginger Johnson | Carolyn Guthrie | James Gentry |
Christiana Gallant | Barbara & Bill Miller | Norman Rabek | Kat Turczyn | Robin Smith | Marobeth Reugg | Berverly & William Mann | Karen Magner | Deborah D’Aquin |
Denise Cook | Theresa Coletta | Juanity Brown | Joan Glynn | Ellen Denker

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