Creative Placemaking Summit Brings 400 Arts Leaders to Chapel Hill

October 12, 2022

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For two days in early November, over 400 professionals from the worlds of arts, culture, community affairs, and economic development will gather in downtown Chapel Hill for the Creative Placemaking Summit: South & Appalachia. Taking place on Thursday, November 3 and Friday, November 4, the Summit will feature in-person workshops, presentations, networking events, and performances. A virtual pre-conference will happen on Tuesday, November 1. Registration is open for both events through November 1, and the Summit is expected to sell out. 

The Summit is co-hosted by the Town of Chapel Hill’s Community Arts & Culture  division and UNC-Chapel Hill’s Arts Everywhere initiative, in coordination with South Arts and Creative Placemaking Communities. The event has multiple goals, including building capacity for arts professionals, sharing creative placemaking best practices, inspiring new initiatives around the South, and showcasing both the creative places of downtown Chapel Hill and the opportunities to do more. 

The Summit will feature a wide variety of speakers from around the nation, the South, and North Carolina, presenting on a variety of creative placemaking topics. Kathryn Wagner, Associate Director of UNC’s Arts Everywhere initiative, says that the offering was designed to make connections across people and places, “Through these sessions and workshops, we believe that people will understand that what’s happening in Chapel Hill with redevelopment, gentrification, housing, and other creative placemaking issues, is also happening in Birmingham and Savannah and Louisville.” Wagner said the Summit’s sessions and workshops were designed with this in mind:

  • Thursday’s opening keynote session will feature Chapel Hill Poet Laureate CJ Suitt, Executive Director of Empowerment Delores Bailey, and Community Historian Danita Mason-Hogans, in a panel discussion titled, Our Town/Your Town: Keeping, Honoring, and Making Creative Places in Chapel Hill, NC.
  • Friday’s opening keynote Session will feature Jeff Bell, Executive Director of the North Carolina Arts Council. Bell was formerly the Arts Innovation Coordinator for the City of Wilson, which included being the Executive Director of the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park. 
  • Friday’s closing keynote session will feature Dr. Akilah Watkins, President and CEO of the Center for Community Progress, America’s nonprofit leaders for turning “Vacant Spaces into Vibrant Places.”

Topics for workshops and sessions include public art, rural communities and culture, folk arts, mural making, land acknowledgement, and more. All of these themes are a part of creative placemaking, which Dr. Watkins and the Center for Community Progress describe as “the practice of enhancing a neighborhood’s quality of life through arts, culture, and intentional community development.”

When they are not in sessions, Summit attendees will stay at local hotels, eat and drink at local establishments, and tour campus and the community. Susan Brown, Director of Chapel Hill Community Arts and Culture, says that many local partners have helped make this event successful and ensure a great experience for attendees. “From the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership to Chapel Hill Economic Development to the Orange County Arts Commission to the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau, so many organizations are helping leverage this event and show off all that our town has to offer.” Many attendees are expected to extend their stays and explore the greater Triangle area. 

Community Arts & Culture is a division of the Town of Chapel Hill and has a mission to inspire creativity and celebrate community for a better Chapel Hill. The department focuses on public art, arts experiences, and planning and producing Town festivals and events. Arts Everywhere is a comprehensive initiative at the University of North Carolina at Chapel that connects, advances, and celebrates the full range of the arts at Carolina, empowering students to use their creativity to build a better world.

To learn more about the Creative Placemaking Leadership Summit, visit To learn more about Chapel Hill Community Arts & Culture visit To learn more about Arts Everywhere visit

Creative Placemaking Summit