The Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts works in partnership with the Happy Hill
Neighborhood Association to present Happy Hill Arts, a place-based arts and cultural
initiative in a historically African American community adjacent to the University.
Additionally, in 2019, UNCSA, in partnership with the Kenan Institute and the Winston-Salem Department of Community Development, was recomended for a $50,000 Our Town grant from the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) to support an artist-led cultural restoration
project in the Happy Hill neighborhood.
Happy Hill Arts
Happy Hill Arts sponsors cultural arts activities and events that engage both its
youth and adult populations, thereby enhancing and enriching the quality of life and
educational opportunities for residents. The Happy Hill Summer Arts Program, launched in the summer of 2017, offers participating children diverse experiences,
including dance, drumming and photography classes, as well as field trips to arts
and cultural destinations in Winston-Salem. In April 2018, Happy Hill Arts added After-School Arts, providing an opportunity to build on the success of the summer program and provide
more consistent interaction with the community.
Expose Happy Hill children (Grades 1-5) to a positive experience with art, culture,
Enhance cognitive abilities and skills such as critical thinking and problem-solving,
that will support greater academic success through the arts
Instill communal knowledge of and pride in the historical significance of Happy Hill
Instill knowledge of African American history, identity and achievements
Foster greater involvement by the parents of Happy Hill in enriching and improving
their lives and the lives of their children, using such vehicles as communal meals
and music to restore a sense of community
Support community-based creative leaders of color
In May 2018, the Winston-Salem Foundation presented Happy Hill Arts founders Amatuallah
Saleem and Rebecca Bryant Williams with an ECHO Award, presented to local individuals and organizations that are building social capital.
The program is led by the Happy Hill Neighborhood Association with technical and administrative
support from the Kenan Institute.
Our Town Grant
In 2019, UNCSA, in partnership with the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts and
the Winston-Salem Department of Community Development, was recommended for a $50,000
Our Town grant from the National Endowment of the Arts to support an artist-led cultural
restoration project in the Happy Hill neighborhood. The grant was announced in May
2019 by the NEA.
The grant supports research and planning for the three-part Happy Hill Cultural Restoration
Project. Led by a coalition of artists, residents and community leaders, the project
will identify and build upon the historic neighborhood’s community assets, reenvision
housing development, and create a master plan for reengaging the community through
UNCSA, through the Kenan Institute, was inspired to apply for the grant after partnering
with the Happy Hill Neighborhood Association on Happy Hill Arts.
The project includes three parts:
Cultural asset mapping: The first part of the cultural restoration project, cultural asset mapping, includes
data collection, outreach and engagement through surveys, focus groups, research and
oral histories to inventory key cultural and historical resources. The working group will identify the community’s most valued assets and will develop
strategies to improve or expand them.
Community Innovation Lab: For the second part, the Kenan Institute with its resident partner, EmcArts, facilitated
a Community Innovation Lab with Happy Hill residents, city officials, business and
faith leaders, artists, academics and others to explore barriers to restarting housing
development in Happy Hill, opportunities for development and what role artists can
plan in reenvisioning housing in the community.
Cultural master plan: The final component of the project, a cultural master plan, is led by a nonprofit
consultant team, who will meet with artists, residents, city officials, university
representatives, funders and other stakeholders to kick-start visualizations for the
cultural master plan. The public will be invited to participate in developing the
plan for community reengagement though arts programming, telling the story of Happy
Hill, and finding creative uses for properties.