PRESS RELEASE: ‘Round the Mountain Artisan Network and Heartwood Announce Renewed Membership Campaign, Heartwood Hits the Highway

January 4, 2019

Contact: Jenna Wagner
PR & Marketing Director
Friends of Southwest Virginia
Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation
Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Housing & Community Development
(276) 492-2422


ABINGDON, VA – Today, ‘Round the Mountain: Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Network and Heartwood: Gateway to Southwest Virginia, announced a renewed membership campaign and focus on the artisans of Southwest Virginia.

The renewed membership campaign asks regional artists and crafters to “Gain Arts Altitude with ‘Round the Mountain. Join this January!” Throughout this campaign, ‘Round the Mountain will be accepting new members and renewals and will host the first annual Southwest Virginia Artisan Summit on January 31st. Additional benefits of ‘Round the Mountain include:

  • Educational Opportunities
  • Jury Process
  • Training Opportunities
  • Networking
  • United Southeast Credit Union Membership
  • Marketing Tools

‘Round the Mountain is an initiative that began in the Fall of 2004 when former Governor Mark Warner’s Virginia Works Initiative designated funds to develop Southwest Virginia as a major cultural and heritage tourism destination and to begin an artisan and craft advocacy organization.

Heartwood opened in 2011 as the gateway for the creative economy in Southwest Virginia. The center was conceived to showcase and sell the work of regional artisans and musicians and to interpret Southwest Virginia’s history, heritage, outdoor recreation and scenic beauty via stories and first-person narratives to inspire travel to other parts of the region.

Beginning with the opening of Heartwood: Gateway to Southwest Virginia in 2011, ‘Round the Mountain artisans have been an integral part of showcasing the arts and craft of the 19-county, four city region. ‘Round the Mountain has focused its efforts in promoting sustainable economic development of the region’s communities by assisting local artisans with marketing, educational, and entrepreneurial opportunities.

The Friends of Southwest Virginia and the Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation’s boards, announced in December that Heartwood, located just off I-81 in Abingdon, will be closed to the public until March 15th to facilitate a renovation of both facilities and programs. The facility will reopen to the public in March with a renewed image focused on telling the unique story of Southwest Virginia’s culture and heritage, including the artisans and their craft. With over 180 current juried members of ‘Round the Mountain showcasing their work in Heartwood, more opportunities will be made possible for artisans throughout the region with Heartwood’s renewed focus and image.

‘Round the Mountain also has 15 artisan trails with over 300 members and trail sites spread throughout the 19 counties and four cities.

The joint campaign will spread the months of January and February with multiple opportunities for artisans to get involved along the way. During the renovation closure, Heartwood will be hitting the highway to showcase artisan work as well as give artisans an opportunity to sign up to become a ‘Round the Mountain member. “Heartwood Hits the Highway” will be open to the public and will include cider, snacks and regional art for sale, plus a collective art project to commemorate the tour. Dates for Heartwood Hits the Highway are below:

The current model of operations at Heartwood is four part: Artisan Marketplace, Restaurant, The Crooked Road Major Venue and Visitor Center. All of these areas will be enhanced through the revitalization to better achieve its goals of promoting working artisans, driving destination visitors throughout Southwest Virginia, and promoting our unique Appalachian Culture.

“We are very excited about the renewed focus of Heartwood on the incredible artisans of our unique region,” said Chris Cannon, Executive Director of Friends of Southwest Virginia, the Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation and Round the Mountain, the three organizations that jointly operate Heartwood. “Our artisans are the backbone of our organizations and, further, our unique regional culture, and we can’t wait for them to feel at home within the walls of Heartwood.”

Heartwood is expected to reopen to the public in March with a weekend long celebration of the culture of Southwest Virginia, including a Spring Artisan Market on Saturday, March 16th.

For more information and to stay up-to-date about the progress, subscribe to the Friends of Southwest Virginia Partner Newsletter and “Like” Friends of Southwest Virginia on Facebook.


For more information, please contact Jenna Wagner with Friends of Southwest Virginia (276-492-2422).

About Southwest Virginia
Tucked in the mountains of Southwest Virginia is a vibrant culture of music, craft and stunning natural beauty. It’s a region of spectacular views and rich natural resources. Time spent in the region adds up to something much more than a simple getaway. A different side of Virginia. And a great place to visit for a week’s vacation – or to make a home for a lifetime. Authentic. Distinctive. Alive.

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