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Birthplace of Country Music Alliance Unveils Banjometer to show progress on Cultural Heritage Center Project

March 11, 2010

At a press conference earlier this morning, officials from the Birthplace of Country Music Alliance unveiled a “Banjometer” showing the fundraising goal and progress to date on its Cultural Heritage Center project.

“Over the past few months, we have made various announcements of state and federal funds that have put us to two-thirds of our goal,” commented Bill Hartley, Executive Director of the Birthplace of Country Music. These recent announcements include $1,950,000 in funding from the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission, $2,500,000 in funding from the USDA Rural Development, and a $500,000 recommendation for funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission. “These commitments are in addition to the over $1.6 million that we have already invested in the project,” noted Hartley. Those investments include current site work, a new roofing system, utility work, exhibit design work, and architectural drawings.

“This Banjometer is a visible reminder of progress made and the work that still lies ahead,” commented Edd Hill, President of the Birthplace of Country Music Alliance. Hill noted that to access the public funds committed and put the project out to bid, the Birthplace of Country Music Alliance needs to finish out its fundraising efforts. By putting the project out to bid now, the Birthplace of Country can help create an immediate stimulus for the economy, as the construction phase will employ over sixty individuals locally. Additionally, once the facility is open it will serve as a tourist destination for the region, drawing over 75,000 visitors annually and generating over $43 million in economic impact and $1 million in local and state tax revenue over five years. This impact will help support and sustain business in the region, including restaurants, hotels, and the over 150 businesses in the downtown historic district. . “We are entering the final phase of our fundraising efforts and are looking to the community to invest in Bristol’s future.”

The Birthplace of Country Music Cultural Heritage Center will be located in the heart of historic downtown Bristol in a building donated to the Birthplace of Country Music Alliance in 2004. The facility will feature both permanent and temporary exhibits that will trace the history, cultural influences and development of country music. A sequence of audio-visual, interactive experiences will allow visitors to hear both the melodies and stories of the region’s performers, as well as the ability to make their own music. The facility will also enable the Birthplace of Country Music Alliance to expand its presence and programming through educational activities for all ages, live musical performances, lecture and film series, and other outreach initiatives.

The Birthplace of Country Music Alliance is a non-profit organization dedicated to telling the story of the living musical heritage of the Appalachian mountains and the cultural traditions that sustain it. The Birthplace of Country Music Alliance is an affiliate of The Smithsonian Institution and is funded in part by grants from the Virginia Commission for the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, and the Tennessee Arts Commission. For more information, call (276) 645-0111 or visit us online at www.birthplaceofcountrymusic.org.