Have you heard of creative placemaking? In the City of Arts and Innovation, you don’t have to look far to find examples of it. After all—creativity and innovation go hand in hand.
The Importance of Creative Placemaking in iQ
Creative placemaking extends our mission to drive innovation and growth. Through arts and cultural experiences, creative placemaking aims to strengthen communities and bring people together.
It’s part of the placemaking processes we use in the Innovation Quarter to cultivate a welcoming community of diverse people and thoughts and create a unique mixed-use environment that can spark creativity and collaboration. The creative placemaking seen in the Innovation Quarter helps make the area more vibrant by reflecting and celebrating voices in the community and getting people involved.
Murals and Public Art that Reflect Our Community
Murals can be a visual representation of unity within a community. Public art celebrates the unique people and places of Winston Salem, and their history abounds in the Innovation Quarter.
Depot Street (now Patterson Avenue) was one of the first Black neighborhoods in Winston-Salem and home to many successful Black-owned businesses. To this day, the area is an epicenter of culture. It includes institutions like the Clark S. Brown & Sons Funeral Home, A. Robinson Building and Goler Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church. Local artist Leo Rucker painted more than two dozen people and buildings that reflect the rich history of Depot Street.
The Long Branch Trail was developed in 2018 to link downtown Winston-Salem to the Salem Creek Greenway via a paved path. The grade-separated trail features emergency call boxes, bike racks and benches—but something was missing. In 2020, artist Jessica Singerman painted a mural along the trail—a tangible, visual representation and celebration of how the trail connects the community. She incorporated landmarks seen from the trail, such as Pilot Mountain, the Innovation Quarter and the United Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church. Painted during the COVID-19 pandemic, the mural was dubbed “Winston Strong” to emphasize the community’s resilience and toughness.
Engaging the Community through Celebration, Music, Ideas
From pop-up dance performances and film screenings to food trucks and festivals, cultural activities cover various programming. Bailey Park is at the heart of many of these cultural activities, offering a stage, lawn and food truck court to accommodate large social gatherings that lend themselves to creative placemaking. The Innovation Quarter is also home to more than a few concerts and music series and features a mix of genres, including bluegrass, jazz and rock.
Bailey Park is home to Triad Cultural Arts’ annual Juneteenth Festival. This free event celebrates cultural traditions, including African dance, R&B and jazz music, cooking demonstrations, crafts demonstrations, area speakers, health education, readings and more. The Juneteenth Festival provides the Winston-Salem community with an educational, inclusive and diverse experience.
IdeasCityWS Marketplace of Ideas Festival
The IdeasCityWS Marketplace of Ideas Festival was brought to Bailey Park by Wake Forest University, New York City’s New Museum and local community partners. This festival featured interactive exhibits from two dozen local creative organizations representing progressive contributions in art, tech, design and culture. On display was a range of working ideas poised to move our communities forward as we reimagine a post-pandemic Winston-Salem. In addition to the marketplace, the festival included panel discussions and musical performances.
Gears & Guitars Music Festival
Speaking of musical performances—the annual Gears & Guitars Music Festival features eight musical acts over three days in Bailey Park. These concerts are hosted in conjunction with the Winston-Salem Cycling Classic races, bringing the community together through sport and entertainment.
Providing Affordable Spaces for Artists and Makers
Did you enjoy woodshop in high school but now live in a studio apartment with no access or space for projects? Or maybe you would love to try to bring a prototype to life with a 3D printer, but the only problem is you don’t have one or know anyone who does. Enter MIXXER, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating space for the makers of Winston-Salem.
This multi-use space offers a woodworking studio, a metal welding studio, a tech lab and flex space for textile work. This space allows artists of varying mediums to collaborate and get inspired. By offering tools to create with and a place to make and sell work, the Innovation Quarter and MIXXER partnership supports local artists and their growth.
The Impact of Creative Placemaking
Creative placemaking is essential to economic development, livability and cultural impact on a community. It is a process and philosophy that plays a vital role in encouraging growth at a local level. With murals, festivals and other arts-based events, the Innovation Quarter hopes to reflect and involve the people of Winston Salem with these creative engagements—and help them love where they live.