Minds Wide Open contest features Main Street communities

Minds Wide Open, a statewide celebration of women in the arts, will highlight thousands of special events across the commonwealth between March and June of 2010.

While any individual or group can participate by presenting at least one public program focused on women, and related events are taking place in nearly every part of the state, Standing Ovation Vacation packages are being given away as part of a promotional sweepstakes.  And five of the communities featured are Virginia Main Street Communities: Abingdon, Staunton, Manassas, South Boston, and Winchester.

The arts getaways feature superb accommodations, value-added gifts and goodies, plus tickets to cultural arts events like outdoor theater, concerts, dance performances, and exhibits. Random weekly drawings run through June, and there’s no cost or commitment to enter your chance to win. Register now and while you’re there, check out the upcoming arts events in your community and beyond.

Marion’s revitalization path highlighted by municipal league

This month, the Virginia Municipal Leagues’ magazine, Virginia Town and City, features a cover story on the revitalization of Downtown Marion.

The subhead reads: “Downtown success story wasn’t written overnight,” and the article, by Marion Downtown Revitalization Association Executive Director Ken Heath, stresses the deliberate, step-by-step approach the community has taken to bring visitors downtown to shop and engage in Marion’s rich cultural heritage.  (It’s home to both Mountain Dew and the Mayan Revival Lincoln Theater.)

We won’t spoil the article for you; read it and the rest of the issue online.

Berryville Main Street embraces the arts

Berryville has caught on to the economic development potential of the arts.  On Jan. 9 Berryville Main Street (BMS) held a grand opening of the Fire House Gallery and Shop with wide-eyed enthusiasm. After all, this latest project is a new direction for the organization. The Fire House is a public-private project initiated by the Main Street organization with the added purpose to stimulate the arts as an economic revitalization tool.

The project transformed a historic 1930’s firehouse into the BMS headquarters and a unique, retail destination.


A special reception was held to recognize the donors who helped fund the project, which cost $75,000 with donations totaling $35,000. The following day offered the general public a grand opening. More than 200 visitors strolled into the gallery to view and purchase paintings, sculpture, ceramics, textiles and other fine art pieces from 30 local artists.  Local author Belinda Sillar showcased her latest children’s book about her Jack Russell Terrier, Trouble, and offered a “paw-signing.”

The new headquarters location will be a resource destination for downtown supporters and provide valuable exposure to the revitalization organization.  While the gallery will function much like any small gallery, mounting shows throughout the year that focus on a theme, medium, or artist, the primary goal is to bring more tourism, local traffic and ultimately revenue to downtown Berryville.

The Crooked Road on Dozen Distinctive Destinations List

Southwest Virginia’s “Crooked Road” region has been named one of the 2010 America’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The 253-mile route through Virginia’s Appalachian region winds through 10 counties, three cities, and 19 towns. Originally conceived and incubated through the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), the project was designed to higlight the unique cultural heritage of the region and build on tourism and related economic restructuring strategies to revitalize the string of historic downtowns

(Photo Credit: Virginia Tourism Commission)

You can vote for The Crooked Road as the 2010 most distinctive destination, and you’ll be entered to win a complimentary two-night stay at any Historic Hotel of America.

Vote as often as you’d like at www.preservationnation.org/ddd and vote through Feb. 28.

According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, eight out of 10 leisure travelers include cultural heritage sites in their itinerary.  Each year, that translates to 118 million travelers spending more than $194 billion. For more information on the announcement, read the related Roanoke Times article.

Hawk or ground squirrel?

A parable in taxidermy at Radford University's Selu Retreat Center

“You have to ask yourself….are you the hawk, or are you the ground squirrel?”  The question kicked off the 2010 Virginia Main Street Manager’s Retreat at Radford’s Selu Retreat Center last week. 

Eighteen Main Street program managers from across the commonwealth gathered for a day and a half of focus on mission-based financial management. And while the Main Street world view isn’t quite as severe as this predator-or-prey scenario, an organization’s slightly less rapacious and continual focus on the mission of the organziation can serve it well. 

If  organizational decisions flow from the group’s mission and established goals, the necessary money will come to achieve them.  This means making a plan and prioritizing objectives. It requires the effective communication of the organization’s mission and goals, and it means taking well-planned steps to meet them.

The alternative is doing things the way they’ve always been done.  The alternative is letting the budget and resources drive the mission rather than attracting resources with a solid plan.  The alternative is not leadership, or even effective management. The alternative is ground squirrel.