Our current North Hills Live series centers around the Midtown Events team. Focused on bringing Midtown Raleigh the most innovative and eclectic events in the Triangle, Midtown Events specializes in booking events at North Hills. Today we meet with special events and branding specialist Arrington Clark to learn about North Hills’ public art initiative, the behind-the-scenes happenings of major Midtown events, and what brought her home to Raleigh from a career with Sotheby’s in NYC.
North Hills Live: How long have you been with Midtown Events and how has your role evolved? What are your current responsibilities?
Arrington Clark: I started with Midtown Events roughly six months ago, in May 2016. With no incumbent to the position, there was great room for my position to grow and change. I help with event management and logistics, production, property branding, and property ambiance. I also oversee the art initiative on property and will manage the North Hills Kid’s programming in 2017.
NHL: What inspired you to leave NYC and return to Raleigh?
AC: New York is terrific. I am incredibly grateful for the experience afforded to me through my time in New York; however, I always knew that I wanted to end up at home in Raleigh. Parents are here, grandparents are here, friends are here. Not to mention, Raleigh is a really neat city—I am grateful to be able to come home to an inspiring place—a city that is urban yet intimate, a city that is on the cusp of a Renaissance of sorts.
North Hills helped raise me. I learned to ride a bike in the upper Penny’s parking lot… and years later, how to parallel park. In middle school, I loitered in Starbucks with packs of girls, and in high school learned how to make $7 go a long way at Firebirds (side of mac, side Caesar, water and the free pillow bread). When this job opening surfaced, I not only saw the position as a way to serve a property that served me so well, but additionally, I truly appreciated North Hills’ commitment to providing open events and functions to the community. I wanted to be a part of the team that helps people of all ages and backgrounds create wholesome, lasting memories.
NHL: How did your time at Sotheby’s help prepare you for your current position?
AC: Oh, let me count the ways! Really the only way to explain my time at Sotheby’s is to compare it to getting a bachelor degree, a master’s degree, and PhD all in about a year and a half. It was an accelerated education on the world, people, art, events, big business, priorities, time management, leadership, and…just making things happen and getting things done! Most importantly however, Sotheby’s (and living in the city) instilled in me a confidence that I did not have prior to my move. I now know that I can do anything I put my mind to…and, that the Lord provides. This confidence is the greatest gift an employer could give an employee. It will aid me at Midtown Events and beyond in life.
NHL: Tell me a little about North Hills’ art initiative. How do you identify and work with artists whose works are featured at North Hills?
AC: North Hills’ art initiative is pretty organic which I think is a good thing. Being organic keeps the art genuine. We’re not placing art just to place art. Rather, as ideas and concepts come to us, we think through feasibility and then we source artists in various ways, depending on the project. We’ve done a public “call to artists” and we’ve also made cold-calls to specific artists. I’ve been humbled by the generous responses we’ve received from artists willing and keen to contribute to the North Hills property. Their willingness is a testament to the character and reputation of the property.
The art initiative started slowly: one mural in each North Hills district, commissioning an international muralist (Kelsey Montague), a local muralist (Scott Nurkin), and a student muralist (TBD). From there, an initiative was passed to fill vacant spaces with temporary, bold art installations. James Marshall, Dalek, transformed the first vacant space into a daring and geometrically radiant space. Continuing with the momentum, a neon circuit installation will be installed in the second vacant space. The temporary installations are then available for space rental, further enlivening the space. To diversify the exposure we provide to the public, I worked closely with Thomas Sayre, Minnow Media, Arts Together, and CAM on a free screening of Earthcaster in North Hills’ Midtown Park facility. Unfortunately, Hurricane Matthew forced a postponing, but hopeful expectations persist.
Needless to say, public art has officially taken root at North Hills. The benefits of attracting viewers while giving all something to discuss, interpret, and appreciate are now clearly felt throughout each corner of our company. If anything, support is growing. We have some really inspiring ideas for 2017—I cannot wait to see these ideas come to life.
NHL: What’s your favorite “Midtown Moment”?
AC: Some of the small, behind-the-scenes moments that go into making the events and property run are my favorite memories to date. I love working with Midtown Property Services. That’s the name for our custodial, maintenance, and public safety staff. We’ve gotten ourselves into some funny situations together…watching YouTube instructional videos teaching how to feed confetti into a confetti launcher, riding rolling ladders while prepping an artist’s space, sharing cold and stale yet delicious-hit-the-spot-late-night meals during post-event breakdown, etc. It’s such a team here. Everyone really looks out for one another and has a lot of fun together. I don’t think the late nights and weekends would be possible without these relationships and the respect that we all have for each other.
NHL: What are you most proud of during your time with Midtown Events?
AC: I am proud to work for a property and a leadership team that not only supports, but encourages, new ideas on property. I have seen this most notably in the art initiative. Picking my favorite art project is like naming a favorite child—I can’t do it—but I am really pleased with the activation of The Dalek Space. It’s been really neat to see Dalek’s temporary installation come to life through pop up dinners, children’s events, meetings, etc. That’s the point of public art—to bring people together—not just art people but normal people, while celebrating the gift that art provides the community.
NHL: You were asked to submit your favorite event picture for this profile- what is the significance of the picture you chose?
AC: While walking by the Kelsey Montague “What Lifts You” mural one day this summer I witnessed three generations laughing and smiling while “swinging” from the tree. Whether its art or events, these moments are why we do what we do. Our art and our events are free and meant to be enjoyed by all ages and peoples. It is our hope that people leave North Hills inspired and happy, with a really wonderful lasting memory.
NHL: What do you like to do outside of work?
AC: Oh goodness, many things! I moved home to be close to my loved ones. Every Sunday I have a cooking lesson from my (very patient) mother. My grandparents come over and we all commune over the freshly cooked meal. Cooking and family: two of my favorite things. I love anything creative—going to NCMA, CAM, First Friday, etc. I love traveling. I love walks with friends and planning dinner parties… I love thrifting for vintage tableware and then throwing dinner parties. I cherish time at my church, Holy Trinity. It’s been neat to watch the church body and the church structure grow over the past 11 years. I joined BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) upon moving home this spring, and what a blessing that program has been. I was also recently appointed to the Raleigh Arts Commission—I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the city of Raleigh and look forward to helping further art in the city.