Frontier Culture Museum awarded artisan center grant

staunton2editsThe Frontier Culture Museum announced today that the museum has been awarded a $100,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development to undertake the Virginia Artisan Center Planning Project. As part of the planning project, the museum will complete an artisan center feasibility study. Artisans and other stakeholders from across the region will be consulted as to what they want to see in an artisan center and how the center would best contribute to regional community development.

Statewide partners on the project management team—the Virginia Tourism Corporation, theVirginia Department of Housing and Community Development and the Artisans Center of Virginia—are considering the question of how a regional presence for artisan and agri-artisans can help strengthen communities, increase markets for artisan and agri-artisan entrepreneurs, provide greater economic opportunity through coordinated strategic action and further the goals of the draft statewide tourism plan in relation to the Shenandoah Valley and surrounding region.

The Artisans Center of Virginia applauds efforts that create economic opportunities for Virginia Artisans and their communities, while providing conduits for them to showcase their works and tell their unique stories. Through the work of our organization and others a strong foundation has been laid to initiate the feasibility study for this Virginia Artisan Center project,” said Sherri Smith, Executive Director of the Artisan Center of Virginia, a nonprofit organization representing artisans across the commonwealth and now located at the Frontier Culture Museum.

The proposed artisan center will be a hub for artisan activities and a visitor center for cultural tourists wishing to explore the surrounding region. It is expected that the proposed artisan center will provide Virginia visual artisans, agri-artisans and performing artists from other regions an additional platform to showcase and sell their unique works while inspiring appreciative audiences with their expressive stories and distinctive ways of life. The artisan center will complement ongoing efforts such as the Artisans Center of Virginia’s statewide registry of artisans and its “Artisan Trail Network”expansion of connected community trails which currently includes, but is not limited to, developing trails in the Shenandoah Valley, the Piedmont and Southern Virginia, as well as embracing ‘Round the Mountain’s Artisan Trails of Southwest Virginia that provide the entrepreneurial infrastructure to support Heartwood: Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Gateway.

Frontier Culture Museum Executive Director John Avoli said, “An artisan center is a unique undertaking and there is no model that can easily be replicated. We need this feasibility study to understand what type of artisan center should be developed, where it should be located and how it should be operated.”

Phase One of the feasibility study will serve to determine if an artisan center is economically feasible and inform as to what the artisan center should entail and where the facility should be located. If determined viable, a second phase of the study will focus in more detail on the recommended business plan, including capital costs, facility plan, operational and management plan, financial pro forma, and other recommendations for a successful artisan center.

“Virginia’s regions are exploring new ways to highlight important assets to align with community and economic development goals,” said Bill Shelton, Director of the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. “The planning grant is an opportunity for the region and its stakeholders to undertake a big-picture, strategic look at how it collectively presents its artisan community.”

The Frontier Culture Museum, an agency of the Virginia Department of Education, overlooks the interchange of I-81 and I-64 in Virginia’s scenic Shenandoah Valley. As part of its mission to increase public knowledge of the formation of a distinctive American folk culture from a blending of European, African and indigenous peoples, the Frontier Culture Museum incorporates the material culture of settlement. For nearly 10 years, the agency has been exploring the potential of strengthening the interpretation and presentation of the region’s artisan heritage and how it continues to shape local products and way of life.


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