Spotlight Arts Organization: The Alleghany Highlands Arts and Crafts Center

March, 2014

Alleghany Highlands Arts and Crafts Center

Since 1984 The Alleghany Highlands Arts and Crafts Center has been sharing its passion for the visual arts and crafts of the region with local community residents and visitors.  It strives to stimulates interest in and understanding of the visual arts through changing exhibits, in house classes in painting, drawing and various crafts, and provides enhanced visual arts opportunities for high school students and teachers with an annual AIE Residency program, and a delightful retail space full of work by more than 300 local and regional artists and juried crafts people.  The Center works with area agencies to promote the value of the arts while recognizing that the arts have a highly positive impact on economic development.

Exhibits The Center presents 8 invitational gallery exhibits each year, providing community residents and visitors with a variety of work by regional and nationally known artists.  Most of those artists are from Virginia; their work has largely been created for these exhibits. The Center also produces two annual exhibits open to the public, Fx2 Regional Photography,  the always popular Fall Festival Arts Show, which is an open call.  There is also an Annual High School Art Competition, and an exhibit connected to the artist residency. Gallery exhibits offer a wide range of ideas, styles, media and interests. 

Education and Educational Outreach
A Residency Artist works with the public high schools as a part of the AIE residency program, co-sponsored by a grant from the VCA and designed in cooperation with the host school system and art teachers.  The Center offers in house classes in a variety of fine art and craft media to the public of all ages throughout the year. 

The Shop
The Center’s Shop caries works by more than 300 local and regional and local artists and craftspeople in both traditional and contemporary styles.  It’s a great place to find gifts or  treat yourself with treasures of all kinds: jewelry, baskets, artist-made prints, pottery, fibers, paintings and more can all be found,  demonstrating good technique originality and design.

Collaborations and Fun
Along with an annual Summer Arts camp and an ever-expanding list of classes and workshops for all ages, the Center provides hands on activities for youngsters at local events including:   activities for the Clifton Forge Public Library Summer Reading Program for the Clifton Forge Public Library and C.P. Jones Memorial Library Summer Read, and Clifton Forge  Heritage Days in October, The C & O Train Festival in February, and Valentines for Vets, a project that delivers handmade valentines to the service men and women residing at the a nearby VA Medical Center to thank them for their service.  

The AHACC is a part of the site on the Highlands Artisans Trail and a delightful break for the many visitors to nearby Douthat State Park.  The Center works actively with the Alleghany Chamber of Commerce and Tourism and maintains listing with the Virginia Tourism Corporation.

The AHACC has been a point of pride for the entire community since 1984. Staffed by volunteers from across the service area, the Center offers visitors a warm friendly welcome from folks who know and love the area best. We are an acknowledged community resource, providing advice and expertise in the visual arts to community agencies, public schools, home-schoolers, civic groups, Douthat State Park, the C& O Archives and Heritage Center, Dabney S. Lancaster Community College,  AH Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, and the local libraries on projects that build positive recognition for  the Highlands.  An ability to draw visitors–and repeat visitors—makes the AHACC an asset to the entire community. Furthermore, the Center’s visitation records and role as an area attraction has led current government officials to better understand and appreciate the effect arts and cultural tourism have on economic development.

“We always come to the Arts and Crafts Centre when we are in the Highlands- we like seeing the diversity of gallery exhibits and we love the shop!”

“I know my work will be well presented and well taken care until it goes to a new home. That’s important to an artist and a crafts person!”  

“We like to bring visitors hear to the Center to show them some of the best of what the Highlands offers.”

“The Center is a real asset for teachers and students alike. We always get such a boost from the AIE Residency and it has done a great deal to expand our curriculum. Kyle Keyser, retired art teacher.

Artists whose work has been exhibited both in the Gallery and in the Center shop has been recognized in Needle Arts Magazine and Bead and Button, one of our basket makers work was recently part of a collection donated to the Renwick Museum and our artists have worn recognition in regional and national exhibits. 

Ryan Mulligan “I do remember very fondly, the Alleghany Highlands Arts and Crafts Center in Clifton Forge. I think about the times I got to help install work for other artists, spend time flipping through the slings [portfolio bins] of paintings and drawings, and feeling loved in a place that shared my passion.” Ryan Mulligan, AHS class of 1987. Mulligan now teaches at Univ. of Cincinnati, where he is currently exhibiting the sculpture /play pieces he designed for his autistic son.

“The Alleghany Highlands Arts and Crafts Center was the first step in the revitalization of Clifton Forge in the mid 1980’s. A small group of people worked very hard to renovate the old Virginia Power Company building and make the Center a reality. With its varied exhibits, classes, school programs and great gift shop, it is such a wonderful advertisement for Clifton Forge and the Alleghany Highlands!”   Debby Faulkenbury, Program Director, Clifton Forge Main Street”

Links to websites


Governor Terry McAuliffe Announces Commission Appointments

March, 2014

The Virginia Commission for the Arts Commissioners and I are pleased to share with you the appointments to the Virginia Commission for the Arts. We are very fortunate to continue to have strong and enthusiastic leadership to support the work of the Commission and our grantee organizations. We look forward to working with Margi, Foster, the Commission staff and, especially, each of Virginia's arts organizations dedicated to bringing outstanding arts experiences and educational programs to children and adults throughout the Commonwealth. - Lisa Alderman, Chair Virginia Commission for the Arts

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Governor Terry McAuliffe announced additional appointments to his administration today. The appointees will join McAuliffe’s administration focused on finding common ground with members of both parties on issues that will grow Virginia’s economy and create more jobs across the Commonwealth.

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Margaret Vanderhye, Executive Director of the Virginia Commission for the Arts

Margi served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 2008 to 2010 representing the 34th district (McLean, Great Falls, and parts of Herndon and Vienna). She served for six years as a Presidential appointee to the National Capital Planning Commission during the Clinton administration. Margi chaired the Commission’s Joint Memorials and Museums Task Force which developed a nationally award winning master plan for monuments, memorials, and museums. Margi Vanderhye currently serves as Vice Chair of the McLean Project for the Arts promoting the important connection between a vibrant arts curriculum and workforce preparedness. She served in the 1990’s as an appointee to the northern Virginia Advisory Panel for the Virginia Commission for the Arts.

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Foster Billingsley, Deputy Director of the Virginia Commission for the Arts

Foster Billingsley previously served as either Executive Director or Deputy Director of the Virginia Commission for the Arts since 2001. Mr. Billingsley is a native of Virginia and graduated from Old Dominion University. He also completed the Virginia Executive Leadership Institute in 2007. Prior to working at the Commission for the Arts, Mr. Billingsley worked as the Production Coordinator / Company Manager for the Virginia Opera Association in Norfolk, Virginia. He also has extensive experience in theatre, working as an Actors Equity Stage Manager for New York Broadway and Off-Broadway productions and Regional Theatre Companies. Mr. Billingsley has been an advisory panelist for the Kentucky Arts Council, and co-chair of the Deputy Director Peer Group and Audit Committee for the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies. He has served on the boards of the Virginia Executive Leadership Institute and the Virginia Employee Dispute Resolution Council.


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