The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Partnership (BRNHA) has awarded 15 grants totaling $185,000 to fund projects across the North Carolina mountains and foothills. The grants support craft, music, natural heritage, Cherokee culture, and agricultural traditions. These five facets of the region’s heritage earned the 25 counties of Western North Carolina a Congressional designation as the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area in 2003.
“Our non-profit organization is eager to support community projects across Western North Carolina,” said Angie Chandler, Executive Director of BRNHA. “By highlighting our cultural traditions and natural treasures, we help sustain these resources, bolster pride in Western North Carolina, and advance the regional economy.”
The 15 grants awards include:
- Alleghany Junior Appalachian Musicians: $16,000 to build an outdoor stage in downtown Sparta for community concerts.
- Altapass Foundation: $12,820 to convert an outdoor pavilion at the Historic Orchard at Altapass to a venue for music performances.
- Appalachian Barn Alliance: $1,735 for interpretive signs for a planned heritage farmstead in Mars Hill.
- Asheville Art Museum Association: $16,000 for an exhibition highlighting the Cherokee syllabary in contemporary art. The exhibition will be developed in partnership with the Museum of the Cherokee Indian and presented at both museums.
- Asheville GreenWorks: $9,009 for the creation of demonstration pollinator meadows along the Wilma Dykeman Riverway.
- Blowing Rock Art & History Museum: $7,100 for an exhibition highlighting African American craft, music, and dance in Western North Carolina.
- Center for Cultural Preservation: $16,000 for the production of a documentary film on the history of moonshining in the region and its contribution to economic resilience.
- Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians–Department of Natural Resources: $16,000 to develop a master plan for a tribal eagle aviary in Macon County that will protect rescued birds, provide shed feathers for ceremonial use, and offer educational activities.
- Lost Province Center for the Cultural Arts: $14,637 for a market analysis and feasibility study to assess the potential for a proposed Appalachian arts center at the Historic Lansing School in Ashe County.
- Madison County Arts Council: $16,000 for renovations and repairs to its music classroom and gallery space at the Madison County Arts Center in downtown Marshall.
- Mountain Heritage Center, Western Carolina University: $6,779 for the development of a traveling exhibit on the importance of rivercane in preservation of Cherokee cultural traditions.
- Nikwasi Initiative: $14,920 to establish five educational mini-orchards of Cherokee apple trees along the Little Tennessee Greenway in Franklin (pending completion of archaeological survey).
- North Carolina Folklife Institute: $16,000 to expand its “Folklife from Home” video series by commissioning demonstration, performance, and instruction videos from traditional artists in Western North Carolina.
- Will & Deni McIntyre Foundation: $16,000 for the expansion of its “Pandemic Arts” video and audio series which explores how musicians and other artists in the region are weathering the global pandemic.
- Yadkin Valley Heritage Corridor Partnership: $6,000 for the creation of a “blueway” brochure showcasing canoeing, kayaking, and fishing opportunities in Caldwell, Surry, Wilkes, and Yadkin counties.
Since its inception in 2003, the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Partnership has awarded 188 grants totaling $2.5 million and leveraging another $5.9 million in matching contributions from local governments and the private sector. These grants have funded projects in all 25 counties of Western North Carolina in the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area’s footprint.