WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA
The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area has begun work on the Blue Ridge Craft Trails of Western North Carolina. Earlier versions were printed by Handmade in America, in the 1990s, as the Craft Heritage Trails of Western North Carolina. They provided a map with sales pitches for a curated list of studios, schools, galleries, and historic places throughout the region. Then as now, the guide was promoted as generating business for local traditional crafters and artisans, while fortifying the area’s tourist trade. The third and final edition, published in 2003, listed almost 500 places. Handmade went out of business in 2015, so now, the new version of the travel guide is coming together thanks to a $90,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission, with matches from the North Carolina Arts Council, the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina, and other private donors. The grant funded a series two-hour listening sessions in July and August, each open to the public and held at a different craft center. The balance of the money will be spent on market research and site documentation. In addition to a print guide, the grant will fund a web portal sponsoring 75 attractions. It is hoped the website will grow with new rounds of funding.