Leah Elliott is a rising junior in UNC’s undergraduate departments of Political Science and Public Policy and a CCP intern working in Caswell and Lenoir Counties.
Throughout the past year, the Community-Campus Partnership has been involved with planning and marketing for The Gallery in Yanceyville, North Carolina. With renovations on the space set to begin in September, a look at the impact of creative businesses in North Carolina reveals potential effects this art and artisan gallery will have on Caswell County in the coming year.
In the past, Caswell was home to thriving agricultural and textile industries. However, as the economy has changed and the Triangle and Danville regions have grown, the county has seen drastic losses in these once profitable markets. The addition of The Gallery to the Yanceyville square will cultivate and strengthen a different, arts-related market for creative professionals in the area. Whether it is the involvement of artists and artisans, The Gallery’s staff, volunteers or local partnerships with art teachers and schools, The Gallery will tap into a network of artists and art lovers alike that will further cultural and economic development in the area.
A 2009 report by the N.C. Department of Commerce and the N.C. Arts Council highlights the local effects of a “creative industry,” such as an art gallery. Although it is an industry that can be difficult to quantitatively measure or track due to self-employment and unreported work, the arts are critical to retaining residents, attracting visitors and raising incomes within a given region. In fact, the report found that the presence of arts-related jobs and businesses is “the most important factor” when it comes to visitor spending. The North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center further stresses the importance of developing the arts within small, rural communities for the ability art-related businesses have to create competitive advantage over industrial and technology-focused metropolitan areas.
As plans move forward, the N.C. Arts Council Report and case studies from the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center foster expectations that The Gallery’s presence in Yanceyville will attract tourists and expose the rich cultural assets of Caswell County. The Gallery will face the challenge of marketing and networking in ways that increase its visibility and appeal to visitors who are usually drawn to nearby cities. CCP interns working with The Gallery will be wrapping up a set of marketing materials to face this challenge by the end of the summer. Logo design, blog development, press releases and advertising through regional media sources will be critical to this effort.