Introducing The Highland Arts Academy – Part 2


In Part 1 of this story, Donna Bedwell, a Board Member of the Highland County Arts Council, introduced the upcoming, first-ever Highland Arts Academy, where 32 participants can learn from experienced teachers of basketry, barn quilt painting, pottery or stained glass.  Ms. Bedwell continues with pricing and registration information for this unique event that begins in late July.

She says, “We essentially have two pricing structures, and these are early bird prices at this point because we’re trying to encourage people to register early, because there are limited numbers of people in these classes.  If you only wanna take the workshops, it’s $150 for the week of instruction, and if you compare this out to other areas and some of their prices, I think you’ll realize the value of what you’re going to be receiving.  If you would like to participate in the meals, which I strongly encourage because I think that is going to be a major part of the experience of the week, that is a $250 ticket, and that essentially just covers the cost of your dinners every night.”

“We have complete registration and information materials on  Of course, anybody can also find a link to that through the Highland Arts Council website as well.”

“Registration is open now.  We’ve already had a couple people register for the class, and that early bird discount ends the end of May.  Registration will still be open in June, but it will go up by $50 per, so in other words, it’ll go up to $200 for the workshop only, and up to $300 for the workshops and meals”

Ms. Bedwell says there may be a waiting list, but she encourages people to sign up early to avoid that possibility.  She also notes another aspect of the pricing.  She says, “When you pay for your workshop, there will be no additional costs for you.  In other words, if you paid for $150 for the workshop only and you take the class, all your supplies, the instructor fees, everything are all inclusive within that workshop fee, which, once again, is a pretty spectacular deal when you stop to think about it, and it’s hard to get out there and to say, ‘I wonder if I would like to do pottery?’  Well, this is an opportunity, because you’ll have the wheel.  You’ll have your clay.  You’ll have your glazes.  You’ll have the kiln, everything offered for you, so then you know whether or not you wanna go forward with that project or that art form in the future.”

In addition to general support from the Highland County Arts Council, A Marketing Assistance Program Grant from The Highland Tourism Council was received to help advertise in and out of the community.  Sponsorship opportunities are also available for businesses to show support.  Ms. Bedwell hopes the Arts Academy will be self-sustaining and continue to grow.

She says, “When you think about the talent of the instructors that we have, and so many people have come up to me and said, ‘Well, why didn’t you do photography?  Why didn’t you do woodworking?  Why didn’t you do felting?’  All of these skills that they know that there are other artisans in the community who could teach those classes, and, so, you know, look out 2020!  Who knows what we might be offering then, and we’re certainly open to more suggestions, but I feel like this is an aesthetic area, and aesthetic areas draw people who like aesthetic things, and, so, what better place than Highland County to have a focus on the arts, and it certainly would help us preserve this beautiful area as well.”

Again, more information is available online at

Story By

Chris Swecker

is the Assistant Station Coordinator and a News Reporter for WVLS. He has roots in Highland County going back several generations, and he grew up in Monterey. Since graduating from James Madison University with a bachelor’s degree in Media Arts and Design, he has pursued his career at a news station and advertising agency in Virginia, on Microsoft’s campus in the state of Washington, and in both states as sole owner and employee of a video production company. He enjoys exploring life with his wife, Jessa Fowler, traveling, hiking, hunting, gardening, and trying new foods, all while discovering more about what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. He feels blessed to be a small part of this talented AMR team to help give back to the community that has provided him with so much.

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