Art Works Blog

MICD 25 Spotlight on Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Broad Street Bridge over US 421/Business 40, Downtown Winston-Salem. Photo courtesy Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County

The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County in North Carolina, incorporated in 1949, was the first locally established arts council in the country. Once of its goals is to make the city of Winston-Salem a "City of the Arts." We spoke with Randall Tuttle, Chair of the Creative Corridors Coalition about Winston-Salem's MICD 25 project.

NEA: What?s your MICD 25 project and what do you hope it will bring to the residents of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County?

RANDALL TUTTLE: Creative Corridors Coalition will work in close association with the North Carolina Department of Transportation during its preliminary planning of Winston-Salem infrastructure projects, with primary focus on the replacement of 11 bridges in a one-mile stretch of Business 40. Its first project will be to assemble a nationally renowned team of artists and urban designers to create a master plan for corridor development within the city. The master plan will recommend to the Department of Transportation design guidelines for the artistic design of bridges, railing, lighting, sound walls, and bridge abutments within the right-of-way, as well as pedestrian and biking ways, water features, and public art and festival space adjacent to the rights-of-way. It sees process as important and will seek ultimately to have Winston-Salem corridors connect people and reinforce the concept of community.

NEA: Why is it important to have arts and culture at the table when planning infrastructure efforts?

TUTTLE: Infrastructure does not have to be an aesthetic negative. Communities across the nation are proving that functionality is not compromised by thoughtful, artful design and that in many cases projects cost no more when made visually pleasing and even aesthetically exciting. But artful design requires close collaboration by stakeholders, and community input must occur early in the planning stage.

NEA: How do you think works of public art enhance the civic life of a community?

TUTTLE: The answer could fill volumes. Someone said people among dismal surroundings become dismal creatures themselves. While public art enhances the environment visually and otherwise through the senses, it also serves as a constant reminder of the importance of the creative spirit. It delights; it amuses; it challenges; it inspires; it conjures up memories; it can bring us together as a people and as a community. It can speak to who we are and what we value. All in all, it makes our lives richer.

NEA: How important is MICD 25 funding for the success of your project?

TUTTLE: It is crucial. An amazing coalition has come together around this project in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. But significant funds are required to bring on board artists and designers who can transform concepts and dreams into recommendations that are practical and capable of implementation. The MICD 25 matching grant will provide a portion of that funding and allow the Creative Corridors Coalition to leverage the remainder.

NEA: Any last words?

TUTTLE: The project is ambitious and expansive and has the potential to have an indelible impact on the city for decades to come. The bridges now being replaced are more than 50 years old. It is reasonable to think the new bridges and infrastructure projects will have at least that life span. How often can one be a part of an effort that will have positive impact on a community for at least a half century?

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