Barter Theatre (Abingdon, VA)
The NEA grant will support Spotlight Southwest Virginia, a creative industry cluster effort that will activate performing arts centers in rural Virginia through unified programming, training, and education. Barter Theatre, Friends of Southwest Virginia, and The Crooked Road will create the infrastructure The NEA grant will support group-booking arrangements with participating venues, resulting in sustainable, high-quality productions across the region. The Town of Marion, population 5,936, will collaborate to formalize a community outreach model that can help other rural communities revive and sustain their performing arts venues. The project will establish a strong network for as many as nine historic downtown theaters, and a model that will demonstrate the economic impact of a networked performing arts body.
The project region, including the communities of Abingdon, Blacksburg, Bristol, Clintwood, Galax, Marion, Pennington Gap, Pulaski, and Stuart, is one the country's most economically challenged areas in terms of education, income, and health indicators.