Kingsport revitalization efforts could bring artwork into downtown alleyways


New efforts to continue revitalization in Kingsport have city staff looking to improve downtown alleyways.

The latest push to help enhance downtown Kingsport comes from the Office of Cultural Arts. They’re working on an idea that would bring artwork to downtown alleys.

Painted on the outside of the Kingsport chocolate shop Bellafina Chocolates is a vibrant mural. It stretches the length of the building and often draws in people passing by.

“I would love to see art on the buildings, in the alleys, facing the streets,” said Bellafina’s Brenda Barnicki.

It’s an idea that one day could become reality.

The Office of Cultural Arts is looking at ways to enhance downtown. One way they could includes bringing artwork into alleyways.

“If you take an alleyway or a short cut then there might be something in those alleyways that would also be very interesting and just kind of encourage you along your way to your destination,” said Bonnie Macdonald, with the Kingsport Office of Cultural Arts.

The art could make the alleys not only more pedestrian friendly but also serve another functional purpose.

“We want to enhance the space; the more eyes that are on that space, the safer it is. Often if you put art in a space then you’ll also increase the lighting in the space,” Macdonald said.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Barnicki. “The murals would make it brighter, more inviting, it would allow people to really feel welcome to walk down that alley and don’t necessarily have to stick to the main streets.”

It’s input like that that cultural arts leaders are hoping for to help determine their next move.

“That’s really the big goal is to identify the areas that need to have some attention, and to get input from our public about what that could be, and then to invite our artists, our creative people to help us dream and make those things happen,” said Macdonald.

The Office of Cultural Arts is really pushing for public input. That includes what alleyways to focus on, or what type of artwork you want to see.

In the next few days, they’ll publish an online survey on

The Office of Cultural Arts is also applying for a $5,000 planning grant. They’ll find out if they get the funding this summer.

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