The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity as cultural landmarks in the heart of downtown Asheville celebrated long-awaited expansions, bolstering the area’s legacy of art, craft and creativity.

With grants through the Buncombe County TDA’s Tourism Product Development Fund (TPDF) – made possible from a portion of the occupancy tax paid by individuals who visit and stay overnight in Buncombe County – we’re thrilled to have partnered with these nonprofits in supporting cultural enrichment for people of all ages who live and visit here.

Asheville Art Museum: Awarded $1.5 million by BCTDA

The Asheville Art Museum’s new $24 million-plus, state-of-the-art facility, now recognized as the Southeast’s premier art museum, features expanded gallery space, education facilities, an art library, a lecture and performance venue, a creative space for families and children, and a rooftop sculpture terrace and café with views of downtown architecture and the surrounding mountains. For the next several weeks, a survey of contemporary art in Southern Appalachia is featured inside the Explore Asheville Exhibition Hall, highlighting 50 emerging artists from the region.

Center for Craft: Awarded $975,000 by BCTDA

The Center for Craft, just down the street from the Art Museum, is the leading organization in the U.S. identifying and convening craft makers, curators and researchers, and matching them with resources, tools and networks to advance their careers. The Center’s newly opened National Craft Innovation Hub cements Asheville’s reputation as a force in the nation’s fine art and maker scene, with a contemporary coworking area for creatives, galleries that are free and open to the public, and lecture space that includes the Explore Asheville Assembly Hall.

 Wortham Center for the Performing Arts: Awarded $700,000 by BCTDA

 In 2018, what was once the single-stage Diana Wortham Theatre hosted more than 55,000 attendees at live performances of music, theatre and dance, including over 10,000 students, teachers and parents from 16 counties in Western NC as part of the theatre’s education program. Now, those numbers will increase in a big way with the facility’s recently unveiled transformation into a three-venue complex known as the Wortham Center for Performing Arts. Located just steps away from the Asheville Art Museum, the makeover includes an outdoor gathering space known as the Explore Asheville Courtyard, with a busker stage and seating areas.

And There’s More!

Map of Downtown Asheville TMIP RecipientsA total of $14.6 million in TPDF grants has been awarded to 12 projects in the center of downtown by the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority, made possible by a portion of the occupancy tax paid by overnight visitors to Buncombe County. These include other cultural arts organizations, museums, parks, and facilities.

To see all recipients of Tourism Product Development Fund grants — in all, $44 million to 39 community projects including parks, greenways, infrastructure, sports facilities, museums, arts and cultural organizations and more — take a look at this video.


1. Explore Asheville’s Director of Public Affairs Pat Kappes with Buncombe County TDA Board Chair Gary Froeba present a ceremonial check for $1 million to Pam Myers, Executive Director of the newly expanded Asheville Art Museum.
2. Former Buncombe County TDA Tourism Product Development Fund Committee Chair Robert Foster presents a ceremonial check for $975,000 to Stephanie Moore, Executive Director of the newly expanded Center for Craft.
Buncombe County TDA Tourism Product Development Fund Committee Member Ken Stamps (left) with Explore Asheville President & CEO Stephanie Brown (second from left), present a ceremonial check for $700,000 to leaders with The Wortham Center for Performing Arts for the theatre’s recent renovation and expansion.