Artisan Network Accepting Members
January 20, 2007'Round the Mountain: Southwest Virginia's Artisan Network (RTM) is now recruiting membership from the region's artisan communities. RTM defines artisans as "people who make handmade objects without the use of kits or commercial molds and whose primary components are not manufactured. This includes producers of agricultural specialties and farmers who have a direct connection with the culture and heritage of the region."
Diana Blackburn, executive director of this non-profit organization, emphasizes, "The term artisan is widely used and we worked to refine the common definition to be more specific to those that we serve and to be inclusive to the many creative and talented craftspeople and farmers in our service area."
With promoting its members and their products being a main objective of the organization, RTM offers its artisan members marketing opportunities, educational pro-grams and workshops to help them be successful business managers. Membership provides access to an interactive web presence that will include electronic newsletters, artisan forums and an events calendar. "We feel that the $20 annual membership dues are affordable and the benefits will far outweigh that cost," Blackburn says.
Members will also be eligible to participate on a series of interconnected regional craft driving trails that are under development. These trails will bring visitors to artisan studios, craft shops, galleries and other points of interest in Southwest Virginia. Members will also have the opportunity to submit their craft items for RTM's jurying process which will determine items to be sold at the new Southwest Virginia Artisan Center scheduled to be built along I-81 in Abingdon.
RTM's mission is to promote sustainable economic development of the region's communities by assisting local artisans with marketing, educational and entrepreneurial opportunities. "Since many of us within the RTM organization are artisans ourselves and have experienced the joys and difficulties of making a living this way, we see our role as helpers and advocates of the artisan community of our region," says Woody Crenshaw, president of the RTM board of directors.
"To accomplish this," he continues, "we need to find ways to be of service to the artisans, the craft shop and gallery owners, the arts centers and museums of our region. The first step is to bring the artisan community together and to offer to them something beneficial. This is the stage we're in now, and that's why it's important to encourage all the working artisans into the RTM network we're trying to build. The more voices we have, the more possibilities we have together."
To learn more about RTM or to become a member, visit www.roundthemountain.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 276-492-2079.