New Support for Folk Arts and Culture in Bristol, Virginia

New Opportunities for Folk Arts and Culture through the Central Appalachia Living Traditions Program Anchor Community in Virginia

Color file of traditional stringed instruments lying on a table and propped up against the table. In the upper left a person sits on a chair playing a banjo. To the left, another person plays a fiddle.

Baltimore, March 9, 2023 – The Birthplace of Country Music Museum (Bristol, VA), in partnership with local artists and culture workers, has announced a new initiative supporting opportunities for folk and traditional artists and cultural organizations in the greater Bristol region (select counties in Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee) with grant funding from Mid Atlantic Arts’ Central Appalachia Living Traditions (CALT) program.

The CALT Folk Arts and Culture Community Anchors Initiative provides targeted resources and support to select community anchors of folk arts and culture in the region with the goal of dramatically impacting the sustainability of traditional practice and cultural knowledge. Three participant communities, including Bristol,VA, were identified in consultation with State Folklife Program partners and other constituents. The other two sites are the community of Scotts Run, WV, with the Scotts Run Museum and The Shack Neighborhood House as key partners and the community of Athens, OH, with the Federal Valley Resource Center as key partner. Each community anchor site formed a Community Folk Art and Culture Team that is leading project planning and creation and implementation of a Community Folk Arts and Culture Plan that details strategies and activities to increase the sustainability of folk arts and culture in their community.

The members of the Greater Bristol Folk Arts & Culture Team include Arts Alliance Mountain EmpireThe Birthplace of Country Music MuseumAppalachian Sustainable Development, Center for Cultural VibrancyCreate AppalachiaCrooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music TrailVirginia Folklife Program of Virginia Humanities, Wayne C. Henderson School of Appalachian ArtsWilliam King Museum of Art, and musicians Geonovah Davis and Tyler Hughes.

Representatives articulated a shared goal: “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.” The team designed a one-year grant program in support of this goal, which will redistribute the majority of the $75,000 CALT support grant directly to artists and under-resourced community organizations.

Regional artists working in traditional or folk arts and culture can apply for a Tradition Bearers Fellowship. This fellowship includes a $4,000 award and a variety of opt-in professional development opportunities. Fellows will have access to support services such as website development and professional headshots, and will be connected to local resources. Applications are being accepted here through April 14, 2023. 

The Team is also inviting 3–5 area nonprofits to apply for a Cultural Caretakers Grant. This one-time, by invitation only, $5,000 grant opportunity is designed for small-scale, limited capacity, and largely volunteer-run organizations that have difficulty accessing typical sources of public and private funding. 

For more information on eligibility and to apply, please visit:

Central Appalachia Living Traditions (CALT) is a multi-year program designed to promote the understanding and recognition of folk arts and culture in Central Appalachia through a three-part program that invests in folk arts communities while seeding new folk and traditional arts experiences and honoring underrecognized practitioners of cultural traditions across the region. This initiative was developed in response to Mid Atlantic’s Central Appalachian Folk and Traditional Arts Research and Survey Project (CAFTA) completed in 2020. CALT has three program areas: Folk and Traditional Arts Experiences, Folk Arts and Culture Community Anchors Initiative, and Recognizing Folk Arts and Culture Champions. Collectively, these programs are intended to stabilize local venues, create greater connectivity among organization and community leaders, increase the visibility of folk arts and culture, and facilitate the transmission of artistic skills and cultural knowledge. 

Image: Helen White and Kay Justice Apprenticeship. Credit: Pat Jarrett/The Virginia Folklife Program.

About Mid Atlantic Arts
Mid Atlantic Arts nurtures and funds the creation and presentation of diverse artistic expression and connects people to meaningful arts experiences within our region and beyond. Created in 1979, Mid Atlantic Arts is a private non-profit organization that is closely allied with the region’s state arts councils and the National Endowment for the Arts. It combines funding from state and federal resources with private support from corporations, foundations, and individuals to address needs in the arts from a regional, national, and international perspective. To learn more about Mid Atlantic Arts, its programs and services, visit our website at

Logo mark is a circle with yellow, blue, and plum geometric sections designed to look like stylized mountains. To the left are the word Central Appalachia Living Traditions in plum colored type.

Karen Newell
Director, External Affairs
Mid Atlantic Arts
410.539.6656 x104