Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Spotlight: Clayton, NC

I was browsing the internet this morning and came across this gem from triangleartworks.org. It is the second of a series of installments in a series on creative efforts in small towns in the triangle of Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill known as... The Triangle.

I was drawn to an article on Clayton, NC. Clayton's 2010 population was 16,116; up from 6,973 in 2000. (That is well over doubling in 10 years!) Local employers are Caterpiller, Grifols, and Norvo Nordisk.

The town website says:

Commercial development along US 70 through town has changed the face of Clayton in recent years with thriving retail and service sectors.. However, downtown Clayton still boasts quaint specialty and coffee shops, a thriving financial services area, furniture stores, restaurants, jewelry stores, and more than a dozen personal care businesses. Some of Clayton’s oldest businesses, Beddingfield’s Drugs (1919, Jone’s Lunch (1958) and TR Lee Gas & Oil (1958) still operate downtown today. In recent years, a strong effort to protect and preserve the traditional downtown has helped the area maintain its economic vigor and historic charm.

Sounds like the vision of many a small town I know.

What intrigued me about this particular article was how is going about approaching "growing its reputation as an arts community." 

Recently, the Town has begun to make the arts a more essential part of the Town’s fabric. The Clayton Center building is already full of art, both permanent and in temporary shows. The Center’s lobby gallery features a monthly rotating art exhibit, while permanent art, including a mural by local artist Dorothy Demboski, adorns the walls. During recent construction of a new law enforcement center, the Town dedicated 10% of the budget towards creation of a public art memorial that was incorporated into the building. And most recently, the Town hired Jody Servon to serve as an “artist in residence” to help build the Town’s reputation as an arts community.

From the town of Clayton website:

"The Artist-in-Residence will provide vision for a collaboration of art and space in new town projects, as well as finding ways to bring out more of the beauty that's already here. But, perhaps the position's greatest responsibility will center on working with residents, organizations and town officials to promote the arts in step with the community's unique values and identity", Mayor Jody McLeod said.

An interesting idea, and one I think a lot of towns might do well to consider.

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