Our Town

Barter Theatre (Abingdon, VA)

Marion, Virginia




Actors on stage: A pregnant womans laying on the ground with another woman neeling next to her while a man sitting on a chair near by looks in their direction.

Original touring productions by Barter Theatre such as October, Before I Was Born by Lori Matthews will be one component of the theater's project. Pictured: Ashley Campos, Tricia Matthews, Nicholas Piper from a Fall 2012 production. Photo by Richard Rose.

The NEA grant will support Spotlight Southwest Virginia, a creative industry cluster effort that will activate performing arts centers in rural Virginia through unified programming, training, and education. Barter Theatre, Friends of Southwest Virginia, and The Crooked Road will create the infrastructure The NEA grant will support group-booking arrangements with participating venues, resulting in sustainable, high-quality productions across the region. The Town of Marion, population 5,936, will collaborate to formalize a community outreach model that can help other rural communities revive and sustain their performing arts venues. The project will establish a strong network for as many as nine historic downtown theaters, and a model that will demonstrate the economic impact of a networked performing arts body.

The project region, including the communities of Abingdon, Blacksburg, Bristol, Clintwood, Galax, Marion, Pennington Gap, Pulaski, and Stuart, is one the country's most economically challenged areas in terms of education, income, and health indicators.