2018 Creative Sector Summit

Rhyme or Reason: Measuring Patterns of Growth

Friday, April 20 | 9:00 am – 4:00 pm | The Grey Eagle

$35 / $25 for AAAC Members (includes lunch)
Optional Tour of the River Arts District: $10/ $5 for AAAC Members

AAAC Members were emailed a promo code to receive their membership discount.
If you are a member who has not received your discount, please call us at 828.258.0710.




Presenting sponsor:



Summit Description:

Asheville is growing fast, in particular its music scene, and has garnered national attention from media and tourists alike in recent years. This rapid development has spurred many in the creative sector to wonder how we can ensure the social and cultural capital of our community keeps its unique and powerful draw while also increasing support for it. The Economic Development Coalition and many music partners collaborated on a study measuring the impact of the music industry on the local economy. Their findings were astounding, and indicated that Buncombe County’s music industry grew 52 percent from 2010-2016. The Asheville Area Arts Council’s 8th annual Creative Sector Summit, presented by Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority, will feature keynote speaker Bob Boilen, several panels made up of locals who will discuss the economic impact case study of the Asheville music industry along with new collaborative initiatives to expand data on arts and culture to better understand and advocate for the creative sector of Buncombe County.

Event Schedule:

9:00 – 9:25 am  |  Welcome & Introductions

9:25 – 10:30 am |  Keynote Speaker, Bob Boilen 
Bob Boilen, creator and host of NPR’s All Songs Considered and Tiny Desk Concert. Boilen will bring his stories and viewpoint as a journalist and artist on the music industry and the opportunities and challenges Asheville might expect as its music scene explodes.

10:30 – 10:50 am  |  Coffee Break

10:50 am – 12:30 pm  |  A Composition of the Local Music Scene
Ashevillle’s music scene has received an enormous amount of national attention over the last few years. Along with our area’s beauty and wider arts and cultural scene, the music of our region draws visitors from near and far to spend their dollars in our community creating a huge economic impact. This panel made up of locals who work in various areas of Asheville’s music scene will explore the cadence of our musical landscape, including efforts and connections underway, discuss the needs that exist, and offer ideas of what we can work towards.

Matt Peiken is a career audio, video and print journalist focused on the arts and narrative storytelling. Since August 2017, he’s been the arts producer at Blue Ridge Public Radio. Before arriving in Asheville, Peiken worked on the staffs of the St. Paul Pioneer Press newspaper, in St. Paul, Minn., and the digital arm of WCPO-TV, in Cincinnati, and he’s a former longtime contributor to Modern Drummer Magazine. He’s also the creator of several online journalism efforts in Minnesota’s Twin Cities, including the video program 3-Minute Egg, the podcast Metal Brainiac and a community op-ed page called Opine Season.


Ehren Cruz is the Performing Arts Director for LEAF Community Arts, a non-profit organization building community, connecting cultures, and enriching lives through musics & arts. In the past five years, Ehren has successfully produced eight consecutive sellout LEAF Festivals welcoming 12,000 patrons and over 400 artists in the heart of Western North Carolina.  Ehren also serves as the lead producer of LEAF Downtown AVL, the largest free non-ticketed event in Downtown Asheville welcoming over 20,000 patrons in (2) days with a mission is to celebrate communities, creativity, diversity, and families.





Danielle Dror is the founder of Sabra Music, an artist management and consulting agency in Asheville, North Carolina. After beginning her undergraduate studies at UNC Asheville, Danielle found herself confused and uninspired. A six month long Scandinavian travelling stint followed, and her return to Western North Carolina reminded her how strongly she feels about her own community, specifically the unique and thriving local music scene. In 2015, she was offered the opportunity to manage a local Appalachian songwriter, and as her passion for artist representation and advocacy grew, so did her business. She now works full time in the industry, between her own Sabra Music, and doing publicity work for Mason Jar Media.





Andrew Fletcher is a full-time professional jazz pianist, specializing in the styles of pre-war America. In addition to frequently performing solo, he has performed with the Firecracker Jazz Band, The Roaring Lions, Pokey LaFarge, Hank West & The Smokin’ Hots, and many others. For the past four years Fletcher has served as an activist with the Asheville Buskers Collective, advocating for city policies that acknowledge and support the rights of street performers. He is a current Commissioner on the City of Asheville’s Public Arts and Cultural Commission as well as the Downtown Commission. He is a board member with the non-profits Asheville Affiliates and Asheville Music Professionals. He hails from Tryon, NC


Kelly Kelbel co-owns and leads Make Noise, a company in West Asheville that designs & builds modular synthesizers that inspire artists to push musical boundaries and discover the unfound sounds. Her experience as an advocate working with sexual assault survivors and incarcerated youth informs how she manages Make Noise and connects their work to the larger community.






Tony Rolando is a self-taught electronic musical instrument designer who got started by obsessively reading amateur radio books at the public library, building electronics for artists, such as the light controlled mixer for Simon Lee’s “Bus Obscura,” and working for Moog Music. After 3 years of isolation on a mountain top with a modular synthesizer, he founded Make Noise in Feb. of 2008. For the past decade a crew of folks at Make Noise have been re-visioning jettisoned analog technology and exploring modern digital technology to design and build some strange, but thoughtful musical instruments.



Jeff Santiago has been managing Asheville music venue, The Orange Peel for the past 11 years. He is also musician who continues to record and perform with his band Los Gatos.



1:30 – 2:30 pm  |  Understand Your Impact on the Local Economy

The arts are a huge part of our community, but only recently have we begun to acquire the tools to illustrate how important they are to Buncombe County’s economic impact. Panelists from AAAC, Center for Craft, City of Asheville, Asheville Chamber of Commerce, and the River Arts District will discuss economic data encompassing the music industry, the need for living and work space for area artists, and the vitality of our non-profit and for-profit art and culture industries.  Learn about what has been done to measure the impact of the arts, and how you can gain access to utilize this important data.

Featuring: Stephanie Monson Dahl, Strategic Development Office Director, City of Asheville; Stefanie Gerber Darr, Executive Director, Asheville Area Arts Council; Mary Carol Koester, River Arts District Artists; Mike Marcus, Assistant Director, The Center for Craft; Heidi Reiber, Director of Research, Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce – Economic Development Coalition; Wendy Whitson, River Arts District Artists; Janelle Wienke, Grants Manager, Asheville Area Arts Council

2:30 – 4:00 pm  | Resource Happy Hour at 14 Riverside Drive

3:00 & 4:00 pm | Explore the Hidden Assets of the River Arts District (optional)
$5 for members, and $10 for non-members
The River Arts District is home to over 200 artists in working studios throughout 22 former industrial and historical buildings spread out along one mile of the French Broad River. The birth of the River Arts District began in 1985 and has continually grown ever since, including the current re-development in the District by the City of Asheville, which is scheduled for completion in 2020. Join this optional tour to hear its history, learn about some of its hidden assets, and why the City is focusing on re-developing this essential part of our community.

For questions or more information, contact Asheville Area Arts Council at 828.258.0710 or email info@ashevillearts.com.

The Creative Sector Summit is generously sponsored by:


 Presenting Sponsor:


“This project was supported
by the N.C. Arts Council, a
division of the Department
of Natural & Cultural Resources,
with funding from the National
Endowment for the Arts”