The Artisans Center of Virginia and Visit Loudoun today announced the formation of the Loudoun County Artisan Trail.
Plans to establish a connection between Loudoun’s various artisan sites—artists’ and photographers’ studios, craft boutiques, galleries, breweries, wineries, farms and farm markets, distilleries and cideries, restaurants, hotels and other agri-tourism-based businesses—have been in the works for much of this year.
The creation of the state’s 31st artisan trail, established through a partnership between the Artisans Center of Virginia, Visit Loudoun, members of Loudoun’s arts community and the Loudoun and Leesburg departments of economic development, is the result of some hard work over the past six months.
The new program will join the roster of tourism ventures designed to attract visitors and buyers to the county’s expanding arts scene.
“It actually is happening,” Loudoun Arts Council President Jill Evans-Kalvaldjian this afternoon. She and a large management team have been working to get the proposal off the ground.
Evans-Kavaldjian said the team is looking forward to sharing the news of what the public may expect during a “Lunch and Learn” session Jan. 17 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Franklin Park Arts Center near Purcellville.
Getting the Artisans Center of Virginia on board was a key step to put together and implement the trail. Leaders from Purcellville, Lovettsville, Hillsboro, Leesburg and Middleburg joined with Visit Loudoun and the county and Leesburg departments of economic development to assembly the $16,000 needed to get the process rolling, she said.
She said the organizational committee, which represents all sectors of the artisan movement in county, is working well.
Next week, the committee plans to start contacting artisans about being part of the trail program. With 70 arts organizations, more than 60 arts businesses and hundreds of working artists, as well as numerous artisans, the county should be in a good position to build a strong public response to the arts community. Along with memberships, the committee will have to develop promotional materials and activities to support the program.
Artist Lisa Strout, local lead on the management team, is pleased with the announcement.
“We have been meeting and planning for about one year, with the great support of Visit Loudoun’s CEO Beth Erickson and Leesburg’s Director of Economic Development Marantha Edwards,” she said, noting that’s a very strong team pushing the idea of making the artisan community more visible.
“We’re going to be looking for partnerships with the private sector to raise, first, the needed funds to meet all the initial expenses (approximately $25,000) and then even more to enable further progress.”
The hope is that the new program will bring similar benefits that have accrued to the existing Loudoun Wine Trail and LocCo Ale Trail, as a logical extension of those earlier initiatives and forming a new and vibrant connection, Erickson said.
Loudoun Agricultural Development Officer Kellie Hinkle also cites the trail as an enhancement of the existing “Loudoun, VA Made – Loudoun, VA Grown” program that highlights the county’s agriculture-based economy.
The statistics look impressive. According to Richmond-based Chmura Economics and Analytics, the artisan industry in Virginia generated a $572.2 million economic impact in 2014, proving $15.6 million in state tax revenue and supporting nearly 12,000 full-time jobs. Artisan visitor spending totaled more than $250,000, with the average visitor spending $260 per person, per trip.
For more information, go to visitloudoun.org. For information on the Artisans Center of Virginia, go to artisanscenterofvirginia.org.