The launch of the website www.BlueRideMusicNC.com this week highlights what happens when state agencies, along with regional and local partners, work together to improve the economic health of western North Carolina communities using traditional assets.
“We are partnering with private sector music venues and musicians to improve the economies of our communities,” said North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory. “By positioning North Carolina’s unique traditional assets for the tourism industry, we are demonstrating that arts and culture provide jobs, attract visitors, influence consumer spending and build community vitality.”
The North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources (DCR), created Blue Ridge Music Trails in 2003 as a way to use the region’s rich music traditions to bring visitors to the state. The N.C. Department of Transportation, through a federal transportation enhancement grant, contracted with the DCR to reposition the Blue Ridge Music Trails project in 2010. The goal of the project is to use traditional music in 29 western and foothill counties to strengthen cultural tourism in the region. In addition to motivating North Carolina residents to explore traditional music, the projects targeted cultural travelers who are eager to connect to authentic experiences.
The Arts Council and the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Partnership, funded by the federal government through a National Park Service grant, and private sources, have collaborated to update the guidebook Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina produced by UNC Press. The agencies have broadened the scope of the project by developing an identity program, producing promotional materials and creating a new website.
The Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina project has documented more than 200 events and venues in the region that draw visitors and residents.