10th Annual Creative Sector Summ

Creative Sector Summit

November 3 | In-person and Online

Cost $50

Since 2010, the Asheville Area Arts Council, has convened the Creative Sector Summit– the region’s only creative industry-specific annual conference.

Planned in partnership with the Arts Coalition, this one-day conference seeks to address major issues impacting the local creative sector. The arts community is currently navigating many challenges, including: racial equity in the arts, the benefits and burdens of local tourism, ongoing pandemic impacts, and the growing gap between wages and cost of living.

The summit will attempt to address these topics through a series of four daytime panels at the Wortham Center. The conference will conclude with an evening State of the Arts Address which will include the presentation of the inaugural John Cram Arts Leadership Award (aka The Crammy).

The arts council is committed to making this event accessible for anyone wanting to attend. If you would like to request a conference sponsorship, please complete this short form

10% discount for Asheville Area Arts Council members.

Please note: All in-person attendees are required to follow the venue health & safety protocols, which are subject to change.
View the current Wortham Center and Rabbit Rabbit COVID policies and procedures. 

East Fork Raffle

East Fork Raffle 

East Fork pottery has graciously donated this beautiful, limited edition Wheel Thrown Shapes Vase in Spyder from their Small Batch Studio. All proceeds go to support the 10th Annual Creative Sector Summit presented by the Asheville Area Arts Council on Nov 3rd. Bidding Ends on Oct 19 at 12 pm.


Check-in, Coffee, & Networking (9 – 10 AM)

Check-in will be available at both the Wortham Center and Rabbit Rabbit, depending on your selected ticket option. Conference materials will be mailed to ‘online only’ attendees if your tickets are purchased on or before Oct. 27. For online tickets purchased after Oct. 27, your conference packet will be available for pick up in the Wortham Center lobby during this time.


Pandemic Impacts

Arts Equity

Moderated by Stephanie Hickling Beckman
Panelists: TBA

In the wake of last year’s protests, many organizations are working to be more equitable and inclusive. But, are we approaching this in the right way? What does authentic change look like? Panelists will attempt to address these questions and identify the current systems within the creative sector which are limiting racial equity.

Sustainable Tourism

Sustainable Tourism

Moderated by Jessica Tomasin
Panelists: TBA

This fall, Thrive Asheville launched an Ideas to Action Leadership Forum, a cohort of more than 30 diverse community leaders who will study the impacts of tourism in-depth, then develop a plan for sustainable solutions. Since Asheville’s vibrant arts scene is a major tourism driver, this panel looks at sustainable tourism through the lens of the creative sector. What is the role the local creative sector could/ should play in sustainable tourism?

Lunch Break (1- 2:30 PM)

Lunch is on you, but we suggest checking out AVL Taco Truck over at Rabbit Rabbit.


Pandemic Impacts

Pandemic Impacts

Moderated by Liz Whalen Tallent
Panelists: TBA

Buncombe County’s 74 creative industries were responsible for over 14,000 jobs and $1.6 B in industry sales in 2019. But last year, over 1,300 jobs were lost in the Arts & Entertainment industry alone– the greatest % of job loss from any industry in BC. Many arts businesses endured over 14 months of closure due to state and local health restrictions, and now arts businesses are on the front lines– enforcing mask mandates, vaccine checks, and COVID testing. The panel takes a closer look at the challenges the arts sector is facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Creative Wages

Creative Wages

Moderated by Gwynne Rukenbrod Smith
Panelists: TBA

In 2019, the cost of living in Buncombe County was 1% above the national average and the second-highest in the state, and by 2020, it had changed to 6% above the national average and the highest in the state, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research as reported by the Asheville Chamber of Commerce. Wages on average were also 16% below state averages and 30% below national averages. These discrepancies are even higher when looking at most of the top creative occupations. Panelists will discuss how the creative sector might work proactively to address this growing issue. 

Dinner Break (5:30-7 PM)

We suggest trying one of downtown’s many AIR restaurants.

Hoppy Hour at Rabbit Rabbit (5:30-6:30 PM)

Join us for a brew and an hour of networking at Rabbit Rabbit following the last panel.

State of the Arts Address

Reception for Crammy Award Nominees (7-8 PM)

The Asheville Area Arts Council is proud to announce a new addition to this year’s Creative Sector Summit– the first ever “Crammy” award. 

Named after local entrepreneur and philanthropist John Cram– who passed away last year– the award seeks to honor individuals who have made a large contribution to the arts in Buncombe County.  

Community members are invited to nominate a local arts leader for this award using the form below. The submission deadline is October 15 at 5 pm.

The Arts Coalition chairs will review the nominations, and select the top four honorees. These individuals will be recognized at this reception and the winner will be announced during the State of the Arts Address later in the evening. The Crammy award winner will receive a plaque and select an eligible arts-based nonprofit organization or community project to receive an arts council grant of $1,000.

State of the Arts Address (8-10 PM)

The State of the Arts Address will include:

  • Performances from our local creative community
  • Presentations from state arts leaders and local elected officials
  • An update on the state of the creative sector by AAAC Executive Director Katie Cornell
  • Presentation of the inaugural John Cram Arts Leadership Awards (The Crammy) by Blue Spiral 1 gallery director Michael Manes

Thank you to our sponsors!

Are you interested in sponsoring this year’s summit? Email Hannah at hannah@ashevillearts.com

Additional support provided by Johnson Price Sprinkle, Quility, and Hornsby Creative.