Spotlight Arts Organization: Pro-Art

November, 2013


“I had the pleasure this year of attending one of the Pro-Art performances and it was never clearer how much people love Pro-Art and what it does for their communities. I talked to people who said they never missed anything Pro-Art presented, who clearly felt this was an incredibly vital part of their wanting to live where they live. Imagine being able to live in this beautiful area of the country and to have arts from all over the world at your fingertips.” Katy Brown; Associate Director, Barter Theatre

Mission Statement:
Pro-Art's mission is to promote the arts for the general public, the City of Norton, and schools in the counties of Wise, Lee, and Dickenson. Programs also draw patrons from the surrounding area, including upper East Tennessee (the Tri-Cities region) and Eastern Kentucky.

About the Organization:
For more than thirty-six years, Pro-Art Association has provided high-quality arts performances for the residents of the City of Norton, as well as the counties of Wise, Dickenson and Lee. Pro-Art audiences have grown considerably over the years in the Coalfield Counties of rural Southwest Virginia, and now their programs draw individuals from the Tri-Cities area, extreme Southwest Virginia, as well as upper East Tennessee.

Pro-Art Association provides at least one cultural arts program in each public school in the City of Norton, and the counties of Wise and Dickenson. The Association also hosts several performances, lectures and master classes at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise as well as Mountain Empire Community College annually. Programming for the public schools, and the two local colleges, is diverse including music, dance, theatrical productions, lectures, art exhibits and master classes.

Larger performances are hosted at a local performing arts center and offered as bus-ins for the public schools. Recently, high school students saw Barter Theatre full-length, main stage, productions of THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK, CIVIL WAR VOICES and THE GLASS MENAGERIE. An SOL related program, called THE PHYSICS OF SOUND and presented by the group BRASS 5, was performed for younger students.  Local public schools have dropped many drama and music offerings due to state and local funding cuts.  Prior to the establishment of Pro-Art, many local children had never seen a ballet, opera, musical or various other art forms.  The Wise JAMS program, in conjunction with Pro-Art and The Crooked Road, are now offering after-school traditional mountain music classes to middle school students in Wise County and the City of Norton. The Pro-Art Association is laying the groundwork for a love of the arts in many of our young people who, in turn, move on to provide leadership roles in the arts and ultimately influencing others to do the same.

The Cultural Arts Programs in the Schools of Wise County, Dickenson County, and the City of Norton offer programs to over 12,000 students, free of charge, every year. Students have enjoyed performances by the Barter Players, Brass 5, and the Richmond Ballet.

Many artists provide master classes for students at the University of Virginia's College at Wise while performing in the area.

Pro-Art provides a community cultural arts series in Wise, Lee and Dickenson Counties featuring artistic performances, lectures and art exhibits. In addition, Pro-Art provides a wide variety of free cultural arts programs for students enrolled at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, Mountain Empire Community College, Wise County Public Schools, the City of Norton Public Schools and the Dickenson County Public Schools.

Pro-Art programs deliver an immeasurable richness to the lives of its participants and contribute to the community’s overall quality of life. The organization and its programs create jobs and generate revenue and tax dollars that help sustain communities.

“Supporting the arts at all levels is critically important for the economic development efforts in our rural Appalachian Communities. As a former planer, mayor, county administrator, and now the Director of a regional economic and community development agency, … I would propose that all things being equal, the communities with active arts and entertainment venues will always fare better, regardless of prevailing economic circumstances.”
  Glenn Skinner
  Executive Director, Lenowisco, Planning District Commission

Current Partners
The University of Virginia’s College at Wise
Mountain Empire Community College
Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion
Barter Theatre
Barter Players
MECC Home Craft Days
Big Stone Gap Celtic Festival
Wise Fall Fling
Lee County Tobacco Festival
Wise County Public Schools
The Crooked Road
Symphony of the Mountains

More Information:
Online /

Additional Information