Funding for Arts Center Expansion
By Angela Wampler | October 28, 2008In the coming months William King Regional Arts Center plans to break ground on its Cultural Campus Expansion Project, which has been in the planning stage for several years. The Commonwealth of Virginia also hopes to break ground this winter on an artisans' center, officially named Heartwood: the Southwest Virginia Artisan Gateway at Virginia Highlands Community College.
In June 2006, Congressman Rich Boucher said, "William King Regional Arts Center is a major reason for the impressive success of tourism industry in Washington County and the region. Currently, artisans practice craft-making in Abingdon's Arts Depot, and...the upcoming construction of the Southwest Virginia Artisans Center near Virginia Highlands Community College will provide retail space for artisans to display and sell their work to a large number of visitors.
"The new additions to the Arts Center will confirm Abingdon as a destination for visitors seeking the cultural and artistic heritage of this region... William King Regional Arts Center will be able to contribute to this creative economy by providing low cost studio space for working artisans, many of whom will produce handmade items to be featured not only in the William King gift shop but also the Southwest Virginia Artisans Center. Visitors will be able to observe working artisans and learn about their craft at William King's new Artisans Courtyard, visit the artisans in The Arts Depot, and purchase handmade items from across the region at the Southwest Virginia Artisans Center. Additionally, these visitors will support our local restaurants, shops and inns."
Boucher made these comments while announcing federal funding totaling $2.7 million for the Arts Center for its Cultural Campus Expansion. The announcement formally launched the expansion project, which will double the Arts Center's size, significantly enhance its ability to attract tourists, and showcase Southwest Virginia's rich cultural and artistic history. The funding includes a low-interest federal loan in the amount of $2,631,000 to the Center to fund the construction of a building housing artisan studios and to make improvements to the Main Street entrance to the Center. Additionally, a federal grant in the amount of $99,900 will equip the facility with kilns and other pottery-making equipment, a blacksmithing forge, looms, and other tools artisans need to practice their craft.
In addition, the Virginia Tobacco Commission is providing a grant in the amount of $500,000, and the Arts Center has secured nearly $30,000 in private donations (as of June 2006). The Center is continuing to raise private funds for the project and has applied for a $310,000 federal grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission to cover the remaining cost and reduce the amount of the $2.7 million loan.
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The Arts Center hopes to break ground this winter on an artisans' center.