New director of placemaking to usher in more public art to Flint's downtown

FLINT, Michigan—Kady Yellow will take on the position as the director of placemaking with the Downtown Development Authority to grow both the number and diversity of activities that take place downtown while strengthening a culture of inclusion.


Starting in early February, Yellow will be stationed in an office in the Ferris Wheel building downtown where she will lead the What’s Up Downtown project supported by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. The position and other operational costs will be covered for the first year with consideration for future funding as the initiative progresses.


“We’re excited to have Kady on board to lead Flint’s placemaking initiative,” said Neal Hegarty, vice president of programs at the C.S. Mott Foundation and a member of the advisory committee.“ To have an experienced and creative person who is dedicated only to this task of creating an inclusive and active downtown is a great step forward for the city.”


Yellow’s career began in her home town of Binghamton, New York, where she was appointed the youngest commissioner for downtown development and co-founded the Department of Public Art.


“I have loved making places come alive since 2010, after discovering the power of cross-pollinating municipal government, community organizations, and the arts to build strong urban cores,” said Yellow.


Her focus on placemaking and the importance of art within a community has taken her to New Orleans, Alaska, and across the ocean to Ireland, but the well-traveled Yellow is no stranger to Flint.


In 2019, she published her first book, New Orleans: Murals, Streets & Graffiti Vol.1 and worked with the Flint Public Art Project (FPAP) to institute FLINT x NOLA, a cultural arts exchange, in summer of 2019. Now she is working with co-author Joe Schipani, executive director of FPAP, on a book centering Flint’s street art.


“After a successful part one of the FLINT x NOLA mural exchange last August, I returned there in October to live with Joseph Schipani for almost a month. I wanted to continue to work with Flint residents, artists from around the world, the University of Michigan, The Ferris Wheel Community Foundation of Greater Flint, and the team at COlabs + Flint Public Art Project (too many to name),” wrote Yellow in a Facebook post from Jan. 21 announcing her new position.


“There is this magic in the creativity, resiliency, determination and strong sense of community Flint embodies,” Yellow continued in her post.


The director of placemaking position was offered to Yellow through an advisory committee composed of community advocates and leaders that led the search.


“The advisory committee will intentionally seek to create a place that is safe and welcoming for everyone. We would like to see downtown evolve into a place that becomes a destination for all people in our community,” said Isaiah Oliver, president, and CEO of the Community Foundation of Greater Flint and a member of the advisory committee.


The committee will advise and guide the Yellow’s role and responsibilities. They will also take on educating Yellow about the history of downtown and helping connect the dots in relation to current activities promoting more awareness and coordination, said Dr. Bobby Mukkamala, chair of the committee.


Mukkamala also says there are plans to add members to the advisory committee as the initiative expands, including a representative from Flint’s university community, among others.


“During my involvement in the Flint Public Art Project last year, I was overwhelmed by the kindness, diversity, resilience, and enthusiasm of Flint's residents,” said Yellow. “I am thrilled to join the DDA and the Flint community. Through this new role, I hope to build relationships and develop initiatives that will allow Flint's downtown to shine as a center for creativity and the arts.”


To kick off Yellow’s new role, The Ferris Wheel will be hosting a meet and greet with her 4-6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13. For more information and to RSVP follow the event on Facebook.


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