The Burke Arts Council and South Mountain Arts Co-op are featured on the Blue Ridge Craft Trails, (www.blueridgecrafttrails.com), a new website and marketing initiative developed by the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Partnership, linking 75 craft sites across the 25 counties of western North Carolina.
“Our region is celebrated for its authentic craft traditions, one of the heritage assets recognized by Congress in forming the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area in 2003,” said Angie Chandler, BRNHA executive director. “With the new Blue Ridge Craft Trails, we want to direct more visitors to connect with our local makers.”
Over the next two years, another 125 artists, studios, craft schools and other arts organizations will be added to the website, branding western NC as a must-see destination for the best in traditional and contemporary crafts.
With curated itineraries and printed map brochures, visitors will enjoy new opportunities to visit small towns, travel back roads, meet artists, and purchase handmade crafts directly from the studio. They can also enjoy the best that western NC offers in authentic mountain music, Cherokee culture, craft breweries and savory foodways, along with outdoor activities.
By promoting craft businesses, coordinating the marketing of crafts on a region-wide level, and branding the area as a leading craft destination, the Blue Ridge Craft Trails will strengthen the creative industries within local small towns and help invigorate local economies with new sources of visitor spending, Chandler said.
The project has been funded through grants from the Appalachian Regional Commission, the North Carolina Arts Council, the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina, the Conservation Fund’s Resourceful Communities Program, and the Community Foundation of Henderson County.
Market research shows that a majority of travelers surveyed in the southeast have an awareness of the Asheville area and the surrounding region as a top destination to see and experience authentic handmade craft, but most need more information about exactly where to go. Visitors expressed strong interest in packages that combine craft with local food, music and other activities in a mountain setting.
The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area marks its 15th anniversary this year, working to preserve and promote the rich musical and craft traditions, Cherokee culture, authentic foodways and outdoor beauty in the North Carolina mountains and foothills. The nonprofit organization also manages the Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina, guiding visitors to stages and festivals featuring bluegrass and traditional music, and helps operate the Blue Ridge Parkway’s flagship Visitor Center in Asheville.
For more information, visit www.blueridgecrafttrails.com.