David Whitehill

Title and Employer/Organization

President & CEO, ArtsinStark and the Cultural Center for the Arts

How would you describe your day job to a child?

I make art happen! Everything I do, every day, helps us see, hear and live art in our daily lives. Art is in schools, in homes, on the streets. I help put it out there. This is important work because the arts open opportunities for diverse communities to gather, learn, create, and share.

What led you to your current employer or job field?

Although I've worked in music most of my life, my career has put me in touch regularly with ballet, theatre, fine art, craft, and so many other art forms. So it's exciting to work at an organization such as ArtsinStark, where I have a more well-rounded arts experience.

How did you first get involved with the Strengthening Stark movement?

I appreciated Stark County Commissioner Janet Weir Creighton's introduction to Strengthening Stark. As a Stark County resident, it was important to join other creative and energetic people interested in working together to develop Stark County's physical and economic fabrics. 

What does Stark County have that other communities don't?

I appreciate how the arts organizations, independent artists and makers, downtown agencies and businesses, and economic groups work so closely together to understand that everyone has to flourish for one to flourish. But, unfortunately, it's something you don't see in many communities. 

What advice would you give to new Stark County residents?

Get out and explore, which is what I've done since I moved here in February! Stark County is big enough to be diverse yet small-town accessible and is historic with a progressive vibe. It is a place that takes pride in its past while finding creative solutions to drive its future. I have enjoyed hiking along the Sippo Lake Trail in Perry. The trial provides a breathtaking view of the 100-acre Sippo Lake. My summertime microbrewery hangout will be Sandy Springs Brewing Company. I may even book an overnight at SSBC Brewers Quarters.

If you won the lottery and could purchase one thing for our community, what would it be and why?

The investment for me would be reenvisioning, reenergizing, and renovating the Cultural Center for the Arts campus into a Community Center for Stark County. By creating authentic, accessible indoor and outdoor spaces and experiences, open plazas and intimate corners, sidewalks, and green space, the center can become a gathering place and central hub for people even when there is no programming. It will be crucial that the center functions well for groups of all sizes and that there are affordable spaces for all. Retail and for-profit space, for example, could include co-working, artist rehearsal, and studio rentals, a craft gallery to showcase and sell the work of Stark County artists, and a café with performance and gallery space. I believe the renovation will be transformational because it will pump life back into downtown Canton, spark North Market revitalization, and be a force in connecting the communities of Stark County. 

What Stark County restaurant should we check out this weekend?

As a relatively new Stark County resident, I'm still exploring all of the options, but I've really liked H2 Huth & Harris Wine Merchants in downtown Canton. Their large charcuterie board is a must; it's full of meats, cheeses, artisan breads, olives, fruit, and nuts, all artfully arranged on a serving board. For dessert, I usually head to Ro's Custard Creations in North Canton. Their Dole whip selection is amazing!