Creative Sector Summit focuses on education, workforce and economy

START WITH ART: Mayor Esther Manheimer and Brent Skidmore, a professor of art at UNC Asheville, took part in last year's Creative Sector Summit programming. Photo by Jeffrey DeCristofaro

The Downtown Masterplan, now 7 years old, included the suggestion to bring local arts professionals together. The Creative Sector Summit evolved from that idea, and “We continue to make the forum,” says Asheville Area Arts Council executive director Kitty Love. “The ultimate goal is to move our county toward cultural planning.” This year’s summit, Friday and Saturday, April 8 and 9, includes ticketed presentations on Friday and mostly free programming on Saturday.

Predicated by the work of the Buncombe Cultural Alliance and produced by the arts council, the summit presents what Love describes as “pieces of what other communities that have cultural plans are looking at.” Those concepts include creative placemaking (last year’s focus), arts and economic development and arts in education. The latter was explored in a subcommittee led by Josh Batenhorst and Jocelyn Reese of ArtSpace Charter School, an A+ institution. (The A+ Schools Program is an “arts-based whole-school reform effort,” according the the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources website, that was launched in 1995 by the Kenan Institute for the Arts.)

The theme of this year’s summit, “The Value of Arts Education to Workforce Development and the Economy,” is fitting because “education is pretty crucial to everyone in one way or another,” says Love. Sessions include an Accessibility 101 workshop on how cultural organizations can serve and include those with disabilities. There’s also a free arts-advocacy discussion in preparation for Arts Day 2016, a conference being held in Raleigh on May 24 and 25.

The Creative Sector Summit’s Friday schedule concludes with a ticketed dessert and wine reception featuring — because this is about the arts, after all — special seating at the Asheville Lyric Opera’s performance of The Magic Flute. Saturday promises workshops, performances and interactive family-friendly experiences. The day wraps with a networking event and music by West End Trio.

WHAT: Creative Sector Summit, ashevillearts.com
WHERE: Diana Wortham Theatre and Asheville Art Museum, 1 Pack Square
WHEN: Friday and Saturday, April 8 and 9. Friday sessions at 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. cost $20 each, 6:30 p.m. reception is $50. Most Saturday sessions are free.

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About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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