As far back as 2015, Dunwoody officials and residents were discussing ways to use public art to help the young city stand out and stand above other neighboring suburban enclaves.

“There is a lot of clear interest in arts and culture,” Assistant City Manager Jessica Guinn said. “We have Stage Door Players, the Spruill Center for the Arts and lots of other organizations already here working on these. But we didn’t have a plan to coordinate the efforts and also look to the future.”

The trademark mural at the Spruill Gallery in Dunwoody. (Special)

This year, the city hired Civic Moxie for nearly $86,000 to come up with an Arts & Culture Master Plan named “Create Dunwoody” that will serve as a policy guide for the next two decades and to outline ways the city can offer residents and visitors quality arts and cultural experiences.

Other cities with their own arts and culture master plans include Decatur and Roswell, Guinn said.

Public input is part of the plan. One community meeting already has been held with more set to take place early next year. An online survey allowing residents to record opinions will remain open until mid-January.

“We really need to get more people from the community to participate. This is an important initiative that includes residents, businesses and other stakeholders,” Guinn said.

Bob Kinsey, CEO of the Spruill Center for the Arts, has long advocated for public art because, as he noted in a column in Reporter Newspapers in March, “all great cities have great art.”

There are many arts and cultural events taking place already in the city with concerts at the Dunwoody Nature Center and Lemonade Days and the Dunwoody Arts Festival, Guinn said, but there also are opportunities to enhance those efforts.

Public discussions will be held in the coming months on how art will be selected and acquired to ensure everyone is clear on how the city will move forward, Guinn said.

City spokesperson Bob Mullen said there will be plenty of exploration by consultants, along with public input of where public art will go. Perhaps in a park, or a mural on a wall, he said. He noted that Chicago’s popular Cloud Gate, nicknamed “The Bean,” is an example of a strong visual pieces that help identify a city.

“There is the potential to create something like that in Dunwoody,” he said.

The idea of developing an arts-and-culture master plan is newer to municipalities than, say, drawing up a plan for transportation or parks or even bike and pedestrian trails. But as cities continue to find ways to attract people and businesses, incorporating art and culture into the planning process is becoming more and more important, Guinn said.

“These are newer initiatives for cities that want to show an appreciation for arts and culture,” she said.

To participate in the online survey for the Arts & Culture Master plan, visit

Dyana Bagby

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.