The crowd at the 38th annual “Arts in the Park” event might have been mostly outsiders-but the money taken in helps locals. It might give elderly stroke victims hope and purpose with the “A stroke of Art” program, or provide a kid with something to do during the Summer Youth Arts Camp. It allows kids to master everything from ballet to painting to piano-even if their parents can’t afford it.
The event provides funding for the Blue Ridge Mountain Arts Association (BRMAA, although the event actually preceded the organization by a few years.
Simply put, BRMAA facilitates the barter of trade and artesian skills within our mountain area. Long ago, Appalachian art was preserved by the passing down of ‘handiwork’ in families or churches. Although a lot more organized now, the same thing happens at the center.
The art and folklore that thrives at BRMAA both feeds and is nurtured by an enviable art industry in downtown Blue Ridge. According to Executive Director Nichole Potzauf, the center is a huge economic development tool in the county, drawing artists and visitors from across the state.
Potzauf believes that over 15,000 people attended the event during the two day period.
“Think about the restaurants that fed these people [attendees] and the hotels that put them up.” We are supported by the business community and they benefit.”
“Taking a walk amidst the booths, you can almost smell the money commin’ in”
a resident shared. As anyone having taken a recent stroll in downtown Blue Ridge knows, the affluence just keeps growing.
Part of that is due to a thriving arts culture supported by the BRMAA.
Written by, Pam O’Dell