A vibrant arts and culture scene delights visitors and residents alike.
Art galleries, painting and pottery studios, quilting and knitting groups, woodworking shops, and venues for live theater and music help make Staunton an attractive place to visit and a great place to live.
Art and culture feed the soul, inspire the heart and sharpen the mind of kids and adults alike of all races and backgrounds. Great performances and exhibits create the memories that make up the richness of a life well lived.
On a more mundane level, arts and culture, especially as a way to attract visitors, create jobs and spread prosperity far beyond the walls of a theater or gallery. For every dollar invested in tourist promotion, Staunton receives five dollars in return in tax revenue alone, money that can pay salaries of teachers and first responders. When you count the nights spent in hotels, the meals bought at restaurants and the souvenirs purchased at shops, visitors contribute much to our local economy. And since they don’t use many public services, visitors cost us little while earning us much.
Truly, tourism based on arts and culture is an economic generator that earns Staunton millions of dollars a year. And if we continue to nurture arts and culture in the future as we have in the past, Staunton can gain even more benefit from talented local creators for years to come.
With a background in the arts — Erik served for three years as marketing director for the American Shakespeare Center — Erik knows what it takes for arts organizations to thrive.
Erik’s Record on Arts, Culture & Tourism
- While in the private sector, he co-founded the Staunton Arts and Culture Council, and successfully petitioned city council and the Virginia General Assembly to declare part of downtown Staunton an official Arts and Culture District, with special advantages for funding and promotion.
- On city council, Erik supported annual grants to leading arts organizations as well as the recruitment of new arts organizations to the city, including the Heifetz international Music Institute. As liaison to the Staunton Tourism Advisory Council, Erik advocated to protect and expand funding for tourist promotion to bring more visitors to Staunton.
Erik’s Ideas to Move Forward
- Work with arts and culture groups to revive the Arts and Culture Council and to start actively using the Arts and Culture District to increase tourism.
- Leverage Shop and Dine Downtown as an attraction to bring in more diners and shoppers to downtown, whether they are tourists or locals, through improvements to Beverley Street and enhanced marketing outreach.
- Work with communities outside of downtown and around the city to help start and expand arts and culture offerings with diverse creators and diverse audiences.