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Front & center

February 27, 2024

Upscaling WNC Creative Manufacturing

In celebration of ᏔᎷᏣ The Basket

The Center for Craft is excited to work with several partner organizations across 26 counties in Western North Carolina to invest in and grow the capacity, strength, and sustainability of our region’s creative manufacturing economy.

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Over the next 3 years, a partnership of local organizations will work collaboratively across 26 counties to implement strategies that bring together local leaders to invest in and grow the capacity, strength, and sustainability of the creative manufacturing economy of Western North Carolina. Funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission’s POWER Initiative and a grant from Dogwood Health Trust, partner organizations include Land of Sky, Southwestern Commission, High Country Council of Governments, Western Arts Agencies of North Carolina, Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, AB Tech, Mountain BizWorks, Center for Craft, and others.

The Center’s role in this project includes further developing our Ideation Lab and Makerspace by adding a photography studio, computer lab, and pack and ship stations. These resources will be available to local and regional businesses participating in the “Upscaling the Creative Manufacturing Sector of WNC'' project as well as other local creatives, Center for Craft coworkers, and resident artists visiting the Center through the Virginia A. Groot Material Exploration Residency and WNC Center for Craft Artist in Residence.

In 2016, the Center for Craft & UNC Asheville conducted the WNC Makers Survey, demonstrating that creative manufacturers' three most significant business challenges were marketing, capital access, and production scaling. Makers also strongly desired peer-to-peer learning and increased collaboration opportunities between businesses. In 2018, the Center for Craft, Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, and Artspace prepared an additional report on the needs of artists, which found that there is strong support and need for affordable housing, workspaces, and shared creative spaces and equipment for artists. These projects informed this collaborative effort to support creative manufacturers in scaling their businesses. We proudly reflect the strength of craft’s prominence in the Western North Carolina Region as we lean into the Center for Craft’s five-year strategic plan, Craft Matters. By catalyzing craft communities and amplifying craft’s impact through the continued investment in our National Craft Innovation Hub, we will keep the creative sector strong and present in our downtown Asheville home.

A public reception will be held at the Center for Craft in Summer 2024 to celebrate this monumental investment in Western North Carolina and kick off the project. Join us and fellow members of the regional community to learn how you can get involved and take advantage of the resources and opportunities for creative manufacturers and craft artists of Western North Carolina.

If you would like to receive updates on this project or are a Western North Carolina entrepreneurial artist, craftsperson, maker, or designer making goods in multiples, and interested in the training and support services geared to help you grow your business, please complete the linked interest form.