Catalyzing Arts-based Community & Economic Development

Strategic Action Plan

Five-Year Goal

UNCSA will attract and support the artists, creative entrepreneurs, and visionary planners and developers who will fulfill Winston-Salem's potential to become a leading cultural capital in the South.

First-Year Objectives & Suggested Strategies

Develop plans and programming to enliven the downtown arts district, the neighborhoods adjacent to campus, and places in-between.

  • Complete phase one of the EmcArts Community Innovation Lab. Position project for phase two participation.
  • Increase enrollment in UNCSA Community Arts School; enhance the scope and quality of instruction.
  • Complete preliminary studies of performance venue operations, implement selected short-term recommendations.
  • Engage a designer to study the Stevens Center, crafting plans to potentially incorporate the National Black Theatre Hall of Fame, UNCSA-TV, a black box theatre, classrooms, and retail.
  • Use research from TSKIA LEAP Colab to inform projects.

2015 – Fall Update


  • Complete Stevens Center master plan.
  • Develop plans to revitalize areas/neighborhoods adjacent to campus.
  • Explore potential of an arts-based life-long learning community affiliated with UNCSA.


  • Confirmed what properties are in the scope of the plan (SC).
  • Raised about 2/3 of private funds required to complete the study (SC).
  • Initial exploration of area near entrance to campus with potential local developer.
  • Conversations with highly qualified consultant on life-long learning community. Site visit scheduled.
  • TSKIA LEAP/Community Innovation Lab.


  • Developing funding resources.
  • Process is new (uncharted) to us. Carefully sorting out what we can do and how we can do it takes time.
  • Nobody working on it full-time.
  • Setting priorities/handling more than one project at a time.
  • Achieving consensus internally. Get everyone on same page. Decide each constituent’s role in the process.


  • Keep focused on making progress and raising additional funds.
  • Find developers that see the opportunity and want to help move it forward.
  • Based on information gathered, set priorities.

2016 – Spring Update

The efforts of this initiative have been largely focused in 3 areas: the renovation and revitalization of the Stevens Center and surrounding properties, TSKIA Leveraging Arts Enterprise and Place Making in Economic Development project, and the Sunnyside and Main Street revitalization project.

  1. Working with multiple partners and property owners adjacent to and nearby the Steven Center, we explored what might be possible in this area that would make the Stevens Center and the area around it a driver for downtown development similar in some ways to the efforts taking place in the Wake Forest innovation Quarter. We also discussed necessary updates and changes to the Stevens Center to make it an improve facility for our academic programs, for our external arts partners that use the facility, and for our patrons. In the spring, over $200,000 was raised from private sources to complement $75,000 from UNC GA for a study to be performed of the southern portion of the Stevens Center block to determine the most appropriate uses for existing spaces and the necessary renovations and expansion to improve the usefulness of the facility. 

    Selection of a designer to perform the study should be completed in August 2016 and the overall study project should be completed in early 2017. 
  1. The Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts’ Leveraging Arts Enterprise and Place Making in Economic Development project generated substantial and significant activity throughout the year via multiple programs and research projects including:
    1. Initiated the grant funded Community Innovation Lab, a collaboration of TSKIA, the WS Foundation, and the WS/FC Arts Council working with EmcArts
    2. Created the Creative Community Lab at 300 South Liberty Street, opened in the spring
    3. Developed the South Main Street Revitalization project
    4. Sponsored multiple art-based place making studies by students and faculty at UNC Chapel Hill
    5. Developed the play “And So We Walked” – Cherokee-Co-Lab / Native American Theater Project
  2. As noted above, UNCSA, in close collaboration with the TSKIA, began to explore possibilities for revitalizing some properties we own around the fringes of our campus. A particular focus developed on what might be possible along Sunnyside and Main Streets. We are currently assessing the feasibility of several projects and the availability of funding to support them.

2017 – Update

Enliven Our Community
Leaders: Lindsay Bierman, David Harrison, Corey Madden, Katharine Laidlaw, Michael Kelley

Created a new position and ran a national search for Managing Director, Campus Performances Facilities, and retained an interim manager to evaluate existing staffing and resources. We expect to fill the position in the coming weeks, and to begin the consolidation of the Stevens Center staff with our main campus performance facilities team. This mission-critical senior administrator will be charged with modernizing our box office, honing our performance marketing strategies, and exploring new revenue and/or partnership opportunities to attract new audiences and expand our base of support. They will also be tasked with finding space for performances when Alex Ewing Performance Place is being renovated in FY19. 

Convened a group of city, business, university, and neighborhood leaders and campus stakeholders to generate buy-in and build support for UNCSA to lead a major planning and visioning initiative for the city’s aging and underutilized Strollway park, the city’s first rails-to-trails conversion. The long-term strategic goal: connect the Stevens Center downtown with the main UNCSA campus, drive economic growth and arts-based development in the adjoining neighborhoods, and create a great urban park that runs about the same length as Austin’s Waller Creek and New York’s High Line.

Launched “Chancellor’s Artpreneurship Grant” program to support creative startups in Winston-Salem. Provides up to $75K finishing funds for scalable and/or breakthrough ideas. Criteria and administration of program to be managed by UNCSA’s Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts (TSKIA).

Established a “Creative Placemaking Association” MOU between UNCSA, the UNCSA Foundation, and TSKIA to assist the newly formed UNCSA Foundation Management LLC in the purchase and/or development of real estate to support cutting-edge academic programs, creative startups, and arts-based economic development between main campus and downtown. 

Initiated the grant-funded Community Innovation Lab, a collaboration of TSKIA, the Winston-Salem Foundation, and the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Arts Council working with New York-based consultant EmcArts. 

Opened TSKIA’s Creative Community Lab in the spring to provide in-kind support to artists and creative entrepreneurs, and to house offices for the city’s Center for Creative Economy.


Develop partnerships in film and TV to increase resources, enhance learning, and expand opportunities for students, faculty, and alumni.

  • Develop the operational structure for public-private partnerships.
  • Advance the partnership with NuRay.
  • Develop the Production Company, High Point Studios, and Joint Prop House projects.
  • Expand UNCSA-TV production and presence.

2016 – Spring Update

Meetings have been held with architects to discuss plans and drawings for the renovation of the High Point Stage and finalize a budget. This renovation will return the stage to professional shooting standards, as well as create the only digital turn-key operation in the Southeast that will include a permanent green screen with dedicated pre-rigged and pre-calibrated virtual production environment, with motion capture, camera tracking, a zero gravity rig, and related technologies.

UNCSA School of Filmmaking has been working collaboratively with NC State Visual Narrative Initiative to form a joint NCSU/UNCSA program with the expectation of incubating new ideas and platforms within the educational environment, including the development of a new undergraduate discipline track at the School of Filmmaking to teach students on gaming platforms. This public partnership will focus on development and integrating Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), VFX, and Gaming specialties into curricula offered by the School of Filmmaking. We have laid the groundwork for this venture through visits to and connections with industry leaders such as Technicolor, The Mill, RSA, Mach1 Studios, VRC, The Third Floor, Lytro, ILMxLAB, and Oculus Story Studio, among others. Art Direction Faculty, Bob Keen, will be starting an Immersive Entertainment Club for students and expanding the 2016-2017 curriculum for the Animation discipline.

Technology being developed within the industry is evolving daily, and UNCSA School of Filmmaking is maintaining an ongoing dialogue with VFX and Creative Content studios to stay at the forefront of its development. Oculus Story Studio has chosen UNCSA School of Filmmaking for its Pioneer Program in which it will provide guest lectures and hardware for content created during the 2016-2017 school year, culminating in an event sponsored by Oculus at the end of the year when VR films shot by students will be screened.

UNCSA School of Filmmaking Productions has welcomed Director/Writer, Angus McLachlan during post-production of his film, Abundant Acreage Available, currently being edited by Faculty member, Michael Miller, and produced by Faculty member, Lauren Vilchik. The production company is also developing new shows for UNC-TV and contributing to existing UNC-TV projects, involving current students, recent alumni, and staff members.

2017 – Update

Leveraging Film Entrepreneurial Opportunities
Leader: Susan Ruskin

During the 2016-17 academic year, UNCSA’s School of Filmmaking was nationally-ranked as a top film school by both The Hollywood Reporter (#14) and The Wrap (#10), and continued to develop significant and valuable relationships in the virtual reality/augmented reality (VR/AR) space with industry leaders. The School of Filmmaking was selected by Oculus (owned by Facebook) as one of only eleven U.S. schools to participate in their NextGen Program, which is designed to enable the next generation of VR creators through access to their hardware and providing guest lectures by industry leaders. In addition to Oculus, the School of Filmmaking has established relationships with 20th Century Fox, ILMxLAB, Lytro, NBC Universal, Technicolor, The Mill, The Third Floor, Survios, Cloud Imperium, Unity, Epic Games, The Virtual Reality Company (VRC), and others. 

The 2016-17 academic year was also the inaugural year of two new graduate programs offered by the School of Filmmaking in Creative Producing and Screenwriting. The class was filled to the projected number and the 2017-18 school year has also matched our projected enrollment. The School of Filmmaking is establishing collaborations with other institutions, such as a joint Master’s program with North Carolina State University’s Computer Science Graduate program, and is moving forward with developing joint classes in VR and immersive entertainment with Wake Forest University through their Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship program.

Goals for the upcoming year are to formalize the industry partnerships in VR/AR through a new initiative that will be supported by the School of Filmmaking’s Production Company, partnerships with other universities, and launching the fully digital real-time sound stage in High Point (as an incubator for new IP). We are proposing to aggregate the assets of the UNC system through partnerships with individual faculty, as well as developing curricular programs within the UNC system and the private universities in the state who are engaged in using Virtual and Augmented Reality as a platform for education, entertainment, information dissemination, reporting, entrepreneurship, industry, new technology and medical research.


Years 2–5

  • Implement appropriate mid-term and long-term venue recommendations.
  • Investigate the potential of a planned retirement community.
  • Improve Gateway.