Creative Catalysts: How Organizations are Using Art to Improve Lives and Communities

Wednesday, November 7: 3:30pm – 4:45pm

How can art be used to strengthen communities – both the physical environment and the well-being of the residents themselves? Hear from several organizations that are utilizing the arts to bring people together, to creatively showcase the culture of their community, and to attract economic development.

Session Materials:

Creative Catalysts Presentations (16.45 MB Adobe PDF File)

Room Number:



Jim Sweeney, Sweeney & Associates
Jim Sweeney, a lifelong Columbus resident, became Executive Director of the Franklinton Development Association in 2002 – one year before the completion of the Franklinton floodwall. In his 14 years in that role Jim led the effort to revitalize Franklinton through creation of over 150 affordable housing units, various community building activities, aggressive neighborhood advocacy on all levels, and founding the Franklinton Arts District. Jim moved Franklinton, aka "The Bottoms", to the center of the discussion about central-Ohio development. He built consensus around the revitalization of East Franklinton as an arts destination, an initiative which gained support of city hall and has now begun the path to reality. Jim is active on several boards including the Columbus Landmarks Foundation and the Franklinton Arts District. Jim recently launched Sweeney & Associates, a neighborhood revitalization/creative community consultancy. The firm draws on the talents that established Franklinton as an arts destination. Services include revitalization planning, creative placemaking, and "making" a makerspace.


David Wilson, LAND studio
David Wilson is a Project Manager at LAND studio, a Cleveland based non-profit organization that manages public art and civic space development projects throughout the city. David's work is focused on landscape and urban design projects as well as public art and community engagement, specifically within Cleveland's Buckeye-Shaker and Mt. Pleasant neighborhoods. One such recent initiative, titled ‘Inner City Hues', has brought together nearly a dozen artists residing in these neighborhoods to create artistic treatments on existing surfaces, buildings, and vacant properties along local commercial corridors. A key goal of the project has been to create a social platform centered on community participation, collaboration, and dialogue in public art planning and implementation. David's experience and training in landscape architecture is driven by a passion for fostering relationships within the city's neighborhoods through sustainable and inclusive design. Mr. Wilson has a Master's degree in Landscape Architecture at Chatham University, a Bachelor's degree in Communications at Villanova University, and is an Associate member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA).

Greg Handberg, Artspace
Greg Handberg joined Artspace in 1999. During his 18 years, he has played a variety of roles including Project Manager (1999), Director of Property Development (2001), and Senior Vice President of Properties (2004 to present). Under Greg's leadership as SVP of Properties, Artspace has developed approximately $350 million in real estate over a period of 10 years with another $175 million is in the pipeline and advancing toward construction. In Fall 2015, Greg assumed direct responsibility for oversight of Artspace's portfolio of approximately 50 operating properties.

Betty Smith, EN-RICH-MENT
Betty was employed by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago for 28 years where she created programs for youth and families. In 1998, she married Rev. Mark Smith and moved to Canton. In 1999, she founded Multi-Development Services of Stark County (MDS) where she created programs for women with children, homeless shelter, transitional housing, parenting classes, food pantry, and a neighborhood revitalization program. She also founded and produced Canton Idol (2003 – 2016); Gospel Joins Symphony (2005 – 2008; 2013-2015); Downtown Nu-Zone Festivals (2005 – 2008) and is Television Host "On Track with Betty Mac" Channel 15 (2000 – present). Betty retired from MDS in 2009. In 2012 Betty Co-Founded and became the Executive Director of EN-RICH-MENT, a not for profit program that provides free music lessons, education, instruments, training, art, choir, dance, musical theater and drumline to underserved urban youth ages 5 – 18. In 2013 Betty was inducted into the Senior Olympics Hall of Fame. In 2016, she received a Women's Legacy Award for Education; Community Salutes Award of Appreciation from the Stark County Regional Chamber of Commerce and a Woman of the Month Award for the Arts from the Lenzy Institute. In 2018 EN-RICH-MENT received the Judith Lancaster Community Award under ABCD, Inc. She is the Author of "Unexpected Blessings in the Midst of my Pain", "Bishop Arthur M Brazier, Man with a Vision" and "Meet Miss Betty". She is Organist for Jesus Speaks Christian Center. Betty has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northeastern Illinois University. She also participated in special studies at Mundelein, DePaul, and Notre Dame Universities. Her motto is "With God, all things are possible."