RD26 - Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation Annual Report for 2017

Executive Summary:

Tucked in the ancient Appalachian Mountains of Southwest Virginia is a vibrant culture of tradition, food, music and craft. It’s a region of spectacular views, abundant outdoor recreation, and rich natural resources. Rooted deep in history, this culture is authentic… distinctive… alive.

Together with the 19 counties, four cities and 54 towns of the region, we’re building a sustainable creative economy that preserves, protects and interprets our rich heritage and natural resources, creates jobs, and welcomes both visitors and new businesses to our region every single day.

But that’s just the start…

Heartwood, a 29,000-square-foot artisan gateway near the state border just off Interstate 81, introduces Southwest Virginia (SWVA) to the world and serves as a visitor center, retail center for local crafts, music venue and community space, and a restaurant focused on regional flare and flavors.

We are enhancing opportunities for outdoor recreation in our mountains, forests, rivers and lakes – and for appreciation of the incredible diversity of plants and animals that make SWVA home. The region has over $6 million of outdoor recreation projects planned or in operation.

We are revitalizing our downtowns with artisan studios, coffee shops, community centers, gift, specialty and antique shops and more. There are cultural centers where people can hear live music, find one-of-a-kind treasures, talk to interesting folks and get a home-cooked meal.

For a long time, Southwest Virginia had gone without an identity. Through an extremely detailed branding process, the region is undergoing a regional refresh to help Southwest Virginians love their own land while sharing this brand with the world.

A partner organization, the ‘Round the Mountain artisan network helps crafts people build their businesses, learn new skills and share their inspiration. The network publishes 15 artisan trail maps guiding visitors to studios, craft shops, farms, wineries and more throughout the region and maintains a directory of artisans, craft venues and artisanal agriculture and winemaking.

Another partner group, The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Music Heritage Trail connects eight major sites where our region’s unique music can be heard. Music jams – informal chances to get together and play – happen almost every night of the week across the region. There are festivals, concerts and competitions every weekend in the spring, summer and autumn to celebrate the birth of American music in these mountains.

Southwest Virginia. We’re authentic. Distinctive. Alive. And a great place to visit for a week’s vacation – or to make a home for a lifetime with a new business.