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State of the Arts kicks off this weekend in downtown Bristol

June 06, 2011

A sprawling “hop” through downtown art galleries, a wine-tasting, ballet dancing, a photography workshop, a musical production and various concerts are among activities planned during State of the Arts weekend, taking place Friday through Sunday to highlight downtown Bristol’s artistic flavor.

“We’ve got a tremendous, thriving artistic community in our downtown, and we need to celebrate that,” said Katherine Bowman, associate director of Believe in Bristol, the non-profit civic group organizing the event. “We absolutely have one of the best arts-related downtown areas, anywhere you’d want to look.”

Bowman said the weekend event, which runs from 10 a.m. Friday to 10 p.m. Sunday, will also celebrate the downtown’s new designation as an official Arts and Entertainment District. The city of Bristol, Va., awarded that status to the downtown area last November, under a Virginia law that lets a community declare a specific neighborhood as such a district.

Tennessee doesn’t have a similar law, which kept Bristol, Tenn., from also giving the status to the downtown area, even though State Street — its main strip — is equally split between both Bristol communities.

“It’s going to bring even more awareness to our downtown area, and to how diverse and culturally cool it really is,” Christina Blevins, executive director of Believe in Bristol, said of the official status. “And both communities of Bristol have been so supportive in helping us get to this point. It’s a pretty exciting thing.”

Blevins noted that downtown State Street, which boasts five art galleries, two theaters, the Paramount Center and Theatre Bristol, various craft-related stores and numerous places that offer live music, has become a draw with tourists who seek unique culture and art attractions. She said the upcoming weekend will “help us stand out even more as a cultural and arts area that can attract people from all over.”

State of the Arts weekend kicks off Friday with a 10 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony – honoring the downtown’s official new status – at the Bristol Train Station.

By Roger Brown — Bristol Herald Courier
Published: June 07, 2011