Transforming Downtown Durham into a major regional destination for art, culture, and entertainment.

The SmART Vision Plan reimagines the rapidly-transforming Blackwell, Corcoran, and Foster Street north/south corridor as a vibrant arts and entertainment district that reflects the city’s unique character.

The plan concepts, when implemented, will connect arts and cultural asset “hub” areas in downtown Durham through creative placemaking with public art, wayfinding, pedestrian amenities, program overlays, and exciting lighting and urban landscape design.


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.

Since 2012, the N.C. Arts Council has provided staff resources, public art consultants and significant funds to support creation of SmART creative placemaking plans and implementation of public art projects for selected SmART communities in North Carolina.

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.

SmART Cities and Towns

View a presentation of the four demonstration projects the North Carolina Arts Council is funding in Burnsville, Durham, Kinston, and Wilson.