ABINGDON, VA-The Appalachian Regional Commission has approved a $500,000 grant to fund William King Museum of Art's development of the new Center for Studio Art & Education. The ARC grant funds the renovation of the former Washington County administrative office building directly adjacent to the museum, which will house additional artist and artisan studios, classrooms and a Digital Craft Lab. The ARC funding requires a 1:1 match, which WKMA has met with a $250,000 grant from the Educational Foundation of America, in-kind support from the Town of Abingdon, and various private individual donors through the museum's Masterwork in Progress campaign.
The first floor of the CSAE will be converted to the Craft Pavilion and will be home to master craftsmen and women in blacksmithing, glass blowing, pottery, sculpture, and woodworking. WKMA is in the process of developing a craft apprenticeship program that will pair these masters with up-and-coming artisans. The second floor studios will house illustrators, painters and multimedia artists and - like the ones in the museum and the Craft Pavilion - will be open to the public.
The second level will have more classroom space for public and K-12 programming. It will also be home to the Digital Craft Lab, around which WKMA will build high school and college programming in the digital media arts - photography, graphic design, digital film production, web design and digital illustration. WKMA is working with local and regional colleges and universities to develop programs with the goal of integrating the digital arts into the emerging regional creative economy. The lab will also be used for providing certification and credentialing programs for adult learners, as well as for in-service training for regional high school teachers.
The underlying mission of both the craft apprenticeships and the Digital Craft Lab is to train those in our regional workforce who wish to pursue creative outlets as a vocation. As Southwest Virginia reinvents itself, WKMA has a role to play in providing educational opportunities that prepare new members of the workforce - and retrain those already in it-to contribute in new and innovative ways.
The new Center is the anchor for WKMA's larger cultural campus expansion project, which includes improving parking and accessibility by adding a new east entrance, among other improvements.