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North Carolina college gains crafts grant

Warren Wilson College, a liberal arts school in Swannanoa, N.C., was recently awarded a $2.1 million grant by the Windgate Charitable Foundation to enhance its arts department. The college intends to revive traditional craft work in the areas of fine woodworking, fiber arts and blacksmithing. School officials say they sought help from the foundation because it traditionally offered grant programs focused on arts and crafts as well as on art history.

Warren Wilson College's updated wood center.

The college’s dean of work Ian Robertson says the grant will allow the school to increase its craft outreach to the greater community and its artisans, which include woodworkers and those working in other media. He adds that the grant, which will be dispersed during the course of the next three years, will provide the department with funding for the facilitation of studio craft through work outreach programs and also to increase faculty and staff positions. The school also plans to provide internships for recent graduates during the grant period.

“We have an opportunity with some funds from the Windgate Foundation to actually put into place some leadership programs through internships and also to bring some artists in residence to work on particular skills,” says Robertson.

When applying for the grant, the college partnered with the Center for Craft, Creativity and Design in Hendersonville, N.C. Stephanie Moore, executive director of the center, says the grant is significant in that it will allow the college to expand their craft area in terms of wood. The center is a national organization that advances the understanding of craft in a variety of ways. It has been working primarily with the state’s university system to address the issue of craft in higher education.

“Most of their grant allows for rapid staffing of artists in residence and permanent work crew, so it is about pulling jobs into and onto their campus, which includes not only students who supervise the work crews, but faculty and artists in residence,” says Moore.

“Our interest in this is to not only support the next generation of craft artist and the practice of craft, but to be able to preserve and teach the history of craft.”

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This article originally appeared in the July 2013 issue.

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