RD357 - Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation 2016 Expenditure and Revenue Report

Executive Summary:
On behalf of the Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation it is our pleasure to submit this report to the Chairmen of the House Appropriations and Senate Finance Committees per Appropriation Act Item 109 K.2. The Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation’s purpose is to encourage economic development of the Southwest Virginia region through the expansion of cultural and natural heritage ventures promoting entrepreneurial and employment opportunities across the region. The Foundation has worked with asset based economic development initiatives, such as The Crooked Road, ‘Round the Mountain and the Appalachian Spring Outdoor Recreation initiative as well as numerous state agencies, local governments and nonprofit entities to address the economic restructuring needs of the region. This collaboration has come in recognition of the fact that a shift in the economic base from extractive industries and manufacturing is necessary.

Since 2002, the Department of Housing and Community Development has worked with regional partners to capitalize on the region’s cultural and natural assets to attract tourism and enhance quality of life to facilitate the attraction and development of new industries and other economic enterprises. The showplace for this creative economy effort is Heartwood: Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Gateway; a 29,000 square foot artisan and performance center, which was completed and opened to the public in 2011 with an investment of approximately $15 million dollars of public funding. Heartwood provides a venue for the region’s artisans to showcase and sell craft, and is also a performance venue along The Crooked Road. One of Heartwood’s primary functions is to provide a showplace for the exhibits of the region’s cultural and natural assets through numerous visual and interactive displays. Heartwood also serves as a meeting and conference facility for regional and statewide entities and provides a setting for regional arts, music, food and wine, and outdoor recreation festivals. Heartwood’s commercial operations are operated through a contract with Guest Services Incorporated (GSI), a corporation headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia which oversees approximately 250 properties across the United States.

While much of Heartwood’s main floor is devoted to revenue generating activities such as events and retail and food services, a significant portion of the building is focused on regional economic development support and is not generating revenue. A large amount of space at Heartwood is also devoted to exhibiting the cultural assets of the region and its communities, and in serving as the focal point for the community development work of the Foundation, its aligned initiatives (e.g. The Crooked Road and Round The Mountain) and their staff. Heartwood, the Foundation and its partners participated in numerous activities in 2015 and 2016 which are expected to bring long term benefits to the Foundation and to the region as whole. These activities include the Mountains of Music Homecoming, a multi-day regional music event with broad based media coverage, the creation of a regionally supported Southwest Virginia brand and the designation by the Virginia Tourism Corporation of Southwest Virginia as a unique tourist destination.