Published June 5, 2023

The Greater Bristol Folk Arts & Culture Team—a collective of local culture workers—is thrilled to announce the recipients of its grant and fellowship program to support folk arts and culture in the region, thanks to Central Appalachia Living Traditions (CALT), an initiative of Mid Atlantic Arts.

Representatives articulated a shared goal for this grant program: “to promote and support folk arts and culture in the greater Bristol community by providing targeted resources and support to area organizations, artists, and artist collectives with the goal of dramatically impacting the sustainability and awareness of traditional practice, cultural knowledge, and improving economic development and regional vitality.”

Over the next year, the team will distribute over $50,000 in direct rewards to four Cultural Caretaker organizations and eight Tradition Bearer Fellows, along with sharing a variety of professional development, performance, and cultural practice opportunities. Awardees will be featured at the Virginia Folklife Area at the Richmond Folk Festival (October 14 and 15, 2024), organized by the Virginia Folklife Program of Virginia Humanities.

“We are excited for this opportunity to celebrate and support folk arts and culture in Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee,” said Tyler Hughes, the grant program’s project manager. “We want these grant awards to have a ripple effect— helping the organizations to build capacity and the artists to develop their practice and skills, which in turn will directly and positively impact their communities.”

Recipients of Cultural Caretaker Grants and Tradition Bearer Fellowships.

Cultural Caretaker grants of $5,000 each—focused on small-scale, limited capacity, and largely volunteer-run community organizations— have been awarded to the Appalachian African American Cultural Center (Pennington Gap, VA); the Carter Family Fold (Scott County, VA), Exchange Place (Kingsport, TN), and Mount Pleasant Preservation Society (Smyth County, VA). 

Tradition Bearer Fellowship awards of $4,000 each have been allocated to broom maker John Ingles Alexander (Grayson County, VA), luthier Jackson Cunningham (Grayson County, VA), clothing maker Stephen Curd (Washington County, VA), musician Pierceton Hobbs (Dickenson County, VA), dulcimer player Roxanne McDaniel (Washington County, TN), photographer Anna Mullins (Dickenson County, VA), broom maker Erin Simons (Wythe County, VA), and luthier K. T. VanDyke (Bristol, VA).

About the Greater Bristol Folk Arts & Culture Team

In 2021, Bristol was identified as the CALT anchor community for Virginia, and in 2022 Mid Atlantic Arts worked with the Birthplace of Country Music Museum to invite 13 independent artists and representatives from cultural organizations to collaboratively design a $75,000 investment to support folk arts and culture in the following counties/cities: 

  • Southwest Virginia: Bland, Bristol, Buchanan, Carroll, Dickenson, Galax, Grayson, Lee, Norton, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington, Wise, Wythe
  • Northeast Tennessee: Sullivan, Washington, Carter, Johnson, Hawkins, Unicoi

The Greater Bristol Folk Arts & Culture Team include representatives from Arts Alliance Mountain Empire, Birthplace of Country Music, Appalachian Sustainable Development, Center for Cultural Vibrancy, Create Appalachia, Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail, Virginia Folklife Program of Virginia Humanities, Wayne C. Henderson School of Appalachian Arts, William King Museum of Art, and musicians Geonovah Davis and Tyler Hughes.

About Central Appalachia Living Traditions and Mid Atlantic Arts

Central Appalachia Living Traditions promotes the understanding and recognition of folk arts and culture in the Appalachian counties of Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia through a three-part program that invests in folk arts communities while seeding new folk and traditional arts experiences and honoring under-recognized practitioners of traditions across the region. 

Mid Atlantic Arts was established in 1979 to promote and support multi-state arts programming in a region that includes Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Virginia, and West Virginia. It is one of six regional arts organizations in the United States, and works in close partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and its member state and jurisdictional arts agencies. Mid Atlantic Arts distinguishes itself through its work in international cultural exchange, model programs in performing arts touring, its knowledge and presence in the jazz field, and its support of folk and traditional arts.


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