When you think of a walk of fame, usually something resembling the Hollywood Walk of Fame pops into your mind. This historic landmark in Los Angeles, California, features stars and names of famous people in motion pictures, television, radio, recording, live performance, and sports entertainment. It is an honor that many performers aspire to. More than 2,700 five-pointed stars are placed on a 1.3 mile long Walk of Fame. Millions of people visit them and try to find the star of their favorite “star.” Many places throughout the world have created their own version of Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, such as the Music City Walk of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee, and right here in Winston-Salem.
Winston-Salem is known as the City of Arts and Innovation, and has been for a while, but it wasn’t until 2014, when the city council voted unanimously to grant the Camel City with this title. Our city is known for the arts thanks to its many major art institutions, landmarks, and performance venues. The list includes the Reynolda House Museum of American Art, the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA), the Sawtooth School, and of course, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA), where well-known performers have attended and graduated.
In addition, we have the Arts Council and Trade Street has been designated the Arts District. In the heart of downtown, Trade Street is full of art studios, galleries, shops, and restaurants. The monthly gallery hops have become favorites of many locals. As for the Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, it originated in 1949 and was one of the first of its kind in the nation. This creation showcased our city’s dedication to art and celebrating it in all forms. Innovation also came into the art world of Winston-Salem through the development of the Art-o-mat machines. Old cigarette-dispensing machines were reinvented to dispense small pieces of art. Now, residents and visitors can always keep a little bit of the City of Arts and Innovation in their pockets.These machines are placed at various locations throughout the town. Lastly, The Stevens Center, the RiverRun International Film Festival, the National Black Theatre Festival, and the Gears and Guitars Fest all celebrate the performing arts and welcome visitors to attend their shows.
Arts are alive and well within Winston-Salem. Many artists and performers have crossed through our city’s streets and as a way to commemorate the many contributions these people have made, the city created the Arts, Cultural, and Entertainment Memorial Walk of Fame at the Benton Convention Center. Since 2016, artists have been recognized for their arts and entertainment industry accomplishments. Nominations are taken for honorees. Modeled similar to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, if accepted, honorees are given bronze stars with their name and induction year. This past July, a ceremony was held to induct the newest list of honorees, which included Howell Binkley, George Hamilton IV, Sylvia Sprinkle-Hamlin, and Anne Kesler Shields. Other artists with spots on the Walk of Fame are: John Ehle, Earline King, Stuart Scott, Sam Moss, Maya Angelou, Alvin A.C. Stowe, and Norman Johnson.
Applications for the 2023 honorees have not yet opened, but information on how to nominate an artist can be found online at: https://www.cityofws.org/486/Walk-of-Fame. If you would like to nominate a person, keep in mind some of the general criteria: the nominee must have exhibited excellence in their field for at least five years; made distinguished contributions to the community; have been a resident of Winston-Salem for at least five years; and have made a significant contribution to the arts or entertainment industry in the fields of music, dance, theater, writing, visual arts, motion pictures, television, or radio. Criteria may change as the next year’s nominations are open.
Winston-Salem has a long history of the arts and people come from all over to help us celebrate our artistic accomplishments. The Winston-Salem Arts, Cultural, and Entertainment Memorial Walk of Fame is just one of the many ways these achievements are immortalized and will always be remembered. So, the next time you are at the Benton Convention Center, be sure to take a walk towards Cherry Street and take a look at the stars of the artists who have changed our community.