20 Nov Choose Locally Made Art this Holiday Season!
Southwest Virginia is known for our talented Artists and Craftsman. By celebrating and championing this tradition, you can do more than just help your neighbors you can help to preserve and promote our way of life.
As Executive Director of Friends of Southwest Virginia, every day I get the distinct privilege to celebrate our region’s unique vision and contributions. I enjoy a front row seat as visitors experience the beauty that defines our very special part of the world.
My team and I get to champion important local cultural and heritage initiatives including the ‘Round the Mountain Artisan Network We also run the Southwest Virginia Cultural Center and Marketplace and get to watch as visitors from around the globe discover and celebrate the unparalleled craftsmanship of the more than 200 artists and makers from across Southwest Virginia who display their creations at the Southwest Virginia Cultural Center. Handmade art, jewelry, woodwork, and more represent the heart and soul of this region to thousands that visit each year, and these pieces help define both our shared experiences, and our shared opportunity on this journey through life.
We all know that when we purchase locally, we support the local economy. It is unquestionably beneficial. But when we buy, share, and gift locally made art, crafts, and one-of-a-kind local treasures, we also invest in one another. We have a unique opportunity to showcase our culture, our history, and our way of life. When we purchase and share art, we are not just giving back, we are also paying it forward.
Art and story continue to define our region. Since the start of the Crooked Road and ‘Round the Mountain in 2004, travel expenditures in the region have increased by nearly 60 percent, which have improved our tax base and helped our Southwest Virginia communities to grow and thrive. Each community benefits directly from the beauty that has been created and the economic lift that has been achieved. The creative economy in Southwest Virginia helps us pave way for impressive new regional infrastructure, new job opportunities, and a new set of opportunities for our youth.
Over the last few years, we’ve seen the region’s vision and advancement accelerate at an unprecedented rate. I’m excited about the direction all of this is taking, and the people who are helping to make it happen, but I am also keenly aware, and deeply humble, to know its roots.
The simple act of making art has helped us define and share our regional story for generations. As we continue to thrive as a region, I can only hope we don’t turn our back on the very things that make our home so special. This holiday season, my heart is with the artists who have helped define new ways to celebrate, new ways to cope, and new ways to share – through the pandemic and so much more.
Recently, we launched a new online store to our Culture Center website with the hopes that we can create a ripple of positive impact that each of you will help to spread. Please consider using this holiday to serve as an ambassador for our region. Purchase and share Southwest Virginia art proudly. Use it as another way to build tradition and to share deep and meaningful stories with those special to you near and far away.
I am proud to call this distinctive area home, and even prouder of the traditions that define it. I invite you to join me in shopping locally, artfully, and intentionally this holiday season. Whether you use our new online store, stop by the Culture Center, visit a local gallery, or a simple visit to your neighbor’s front porch, I hope you’ll find time to purchase a locally made craft, think about where it came from, and pause to appreciate where all of it is ultimately taking us.
Our economy, and our lives, are built on simple everyday transactions. Use the treasures you find locally to advance our region’s story. We have much to be proud of and much to look forward to as well.
Happy Holidays from my family to yours,
Friends of Southwest Virginia
One Heartwood Circle
Abingdon, VA 24210