Durham SmART Vision Plan Underway


Foster Street vision.

The Durham Arts Council recently received an award of $100,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts to support the Phase 1 implementation of the Durham SmART Vision Plan, which will utilize public art and urban design to create an exciting and vibrant Arts and Entertainment Corridor. The SmART Vision Plan proposal, a 10-year, $10 million project, was revealed in June 2015, with the goal of pulling foot traffic from the historic Durham Athletic Park to the modern DBAP by steeping surrounding public and private spaces with appealing art and streetscaping. The Plan connects three distinct districts along Blackwell, Corcoran, and Foster Streets: American Tobacco, City Center, and Central Park, respectively.


Corcoran Street vision.

The $100,000 grant, along with another $100,000 in local and state matching funds, will be used to solicit and design a wrap and artistic lighting for a city parking deck that sits across from the Durham Performing Arts Center, as well as a pattern on the pavement at the nearby railroad line and intersection.

“The SmART Vision Plan is a multi-year public art and urban design strategy that fully envisions a dynamic, art-infused, colorful, and connected North/South corridor that draws pedestrians into an exciting daytime and nighttime environment where they will be enticed to stay and visit multiple locations along Blackwell, Corcoran, and Foster Streets,” said Durham Arts Council Board President, State Senator Mike Woodard. “This arts-driven economic development strategy can be a key factor in downtown Durham’s future development and success.”


Blackwell Street vision, daytime.

An Artscape Vision Plan for the Durham SmART Initiative was completed by urban design artist Mikyoung Kim in 2015 as a framework for a re-imagined downtown Arts and Entertainment District. Kim’s design process, which was led by the Durham Arts Council and the North Carolina Arts Council, focused on a north-south corridor with significant historic and cultural roots. The corridor will provide improved pedestrian access and artfully-designed public spaces that will support arts-based events and greater participation for Durham residents.


Blackwell Street vision, nighttime.

“Durham has long understood the importance of the arts to downtown revitalization and vibrancy, which is why it was one of five cities and towns selected as a demonstration site for the NC Arts Council’s SmART Initiative,” said Wayne Martin, Executive Director of the NC Arts Council. “The NEA’s recognition and support of Durham’s stunning vision plan for the Blackwell/Corcoran/Foster Streets corridor comes at the perfect time.”

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