Commissioner Al Whitesides

Will Hornaday

Asheville City Council

Q 1: What is your personal background and experience in the arts?

Instrumental, Visual, Photography, Literary, Graphic Design  | I graduated with a BA in Art from the University of Texas in Austin. I am an illustrator, art director, copywriter, designer, photographer, and creative director for over 30 years.  

Q 2: What arts activities have you attended, participated in, or supported in the last year?

Music, Visual Arts, Literary Arts, Information Graphics/Posters, Annual Reports, Branding. | As a working professional in the arts I work daily in customer-facing advertising and design. I also support with membership and in the past pro-bono design for the Asheville Art Museum and the AIGA (since 1997, and past board member for Austin chapter) and was one of the first members of the Asheville chapter. I go to art openings and buy local art. I go to live music shows often and have missed that during the pandemic. I have loved how the pandemic has opened up so many virtual art lectures and author readings that were not available before. I believe and support the arts, it is not just my career, it is who I am. 

Q 3: Would you support a plan to increase local government funding to the Asheville Area Arts Council to at least match the state arts funding awarded to Buncombe County ($61,447 or $.23 per capita) to support community arts programs for all Buncombe County residents? This would bring the combined state and local arts investment up to $.46 per capita.

Background: Americans for the Arts reports Buncombe County nonprofit arts organizations generate $3.5 M in local government support annually. However, the NC Arts Council’s 2019-20 report shows Buncombe County ranks last among tier 3 counties for local government funding for local arts councils at just $.02 per capita. Average for tier 3 counties is $.73 per capita.

Strongly Agree | I want to amplify the arts community here in Asheville. I want the city to consistently and visibly support this community that I am proud to be a part. From the contributions of the Cherokee to Black Mountain College influence here to the photography of Andrea Clark to street concerts that popped up during the pandemic in neighborhoods- we have a lot to be proud of and I will support this wide community in every way. The arts generate huge revenues and is part of the identity of Asheville.

Q 4: Would you support additional relief aid for arts businesses to support recovery and revitalization of the creative sector?

Background: Buncombe County’s 74 creative industries were responsible for over 14,000 jobs and $1.6 B in industry sales in 2019. By 2020, over 1,300 jobs were lost in the Arts & Entertainment industry alone– the greatest % of job loss from any industry in Buncombe County as reported by the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce. Many arts businesses experienced up to 14 months of closure, and artists/arts organizations are still facing significant pandemic related expenses and revenue losses.

Strongly Agree | I have benefitted from this program with a recent campaign for vaccinations. The process was welcoming and the support from county, city, and non-profits was great. We have a vibrant and creative community that should be drawn upon and supported at every opportunity. I will support and expand programs like this, with your support and guidance, to encourage more careers in the arts that can promote more opportunities for a wider swath of this community.  

Q 5: Do you support using this funding to support the maintenance and creation of local arts projects?

Background: Legislation changing the county’s occupancy tax is likely to be introduced in the NC Senate this session. It would potentially reduce the funding dedicated to marketing from 75% to 67%, increasing funding available for community projects to 33%. Expanded funding flexibility included non-capital projects, option for bonding funding, administration and maintenance of TPDF approved projects, and funding for local arts projects.

Strongly Agree

Q 6: Would you support an initiative to create affordable artist housing and/or studio space within Buncombe County?

Background: Affordable Housing is the primary reason for Buncombe County’s rising cost of living index (now 106). This is having a large impact on the local creative community, forcing more artists to move their residence and business outside of the county. The 2018 Keep AVL Creative survey, taken by 1,265 individuals and 170 organizations, found that a majority of artists (86%) and arts organizations (78%) need affordable artist housing and/or studio space. 424 responded that they have considered leaving Asheville due to cost of living.

Strongly Agree | Adaptive reuse of existing buildings has been -for many decades- where artist live and work. We have over 700 vacant properties in Asheville. Let’s collaborate and use this wasted space for affordable housing and studio space. Let’s work together and use past downtown, West Asheville and RAD successes to develop spaces for artists that can work in our current city.

Q 7: Would you support the creation of Asheville- Buncombe County’s first Cultural Plan to support the preservation of our cultural assets, and the equitable recovery and sustainable growth of the creative sector?

Background: According to a 2019 report by NeighborWorks America, 80% of individuals’ health is determined by the social and environmental conditions in which they live, work and play. We need a shared vision for Asheville- Buncombe County’s cultural future that improves the lives of all residents with arts education, neighborhood revitalization, art in public spaces, economic development, and more.

Strongly Agree | Yes. I love this idea. I don’t want to see this as another plan that sits on a dusty city shelf. It is critical to have deadlines for implementation and budgets for roll-out from the findings and recommendations from the plan. I would not only support this but would actively work to bring the solutions discussed to reality. The arts have supported me and I will always support the arts.