Andy Griffith was a North Carolina icon, actor, musician, writer, and a lifelong advocate for the arts. The Andy Griffith Plaza Project was led by Mount Airy Downtown, Incorporated, in partnership with the Mount Airy Tourism Development Authority, the City of Mount Airy, and Surry Bank & Trust, on whose façade the Andy Griffith mural is located. The project includes the Andy Griffith mural and hardscapes along the plaza.
The mural consists of five images of Griffith, the first from the 1958 film “Onionhead,” the second and third are from “The Andy Griffith Show,” the next one is a headshot taken during the 1960s, and the final image is from a photo of Griffith shown in Toluca Lake, California, during a 1987 interview. The mural images were spray painted by Greensboro artist JEKS, who is famous for his hyper-realistic portraits.
Mount Airy Downtown, Incorporated, invested in a rendering of the mural, then approached the Mount Airy Tourism Development Authority to commit matching funds to the project. The City of Mount Airy provided in-kind work on the plaza hardscapes. Total expenses for the mural and plaza exceeded $46,000.
There are strong indications that the Andy Griffith Plaza is drawing people to downtown. Mount Airy Downtown’s annual Facebook reach from August 2021 to August 2022, when the project was completed, was 4.3 million, up 683% from the prior year.
Since completing the plaza, Mount Airy Downtown, Incorporated, has gained more than 5,000 social media followers. Hotel occupancy tax has increased significantly, and visitors report they are coming to Mount Airy just to see the Andy Griffith Plaza.
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