CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Throughout West Virginia, community leaders are engaging arts organizations, artists, government leaders and economic development organizations in activities that will help establish their towns and cities as creative cities. On Thursday and Friday, Jan. 25-26, 2018, the West Virginia Division of Culture and History (WVDCH) will host “Arts in Our Communities,” a statewide conference at the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston, featuring national and state experts who will focus on creative community development.

“Around the state, we have cities and towns that are seeing growth as creative communities thanks to grassroots programs and support from local government, economic development and tourism organizations,” said Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith of West Virginia Division of Culture and History. “This conference will be a forum for speakers and attendees to share their ideas and learn from each other.”

Tom Simplot, senior advisor for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), will be the keynote speaker on Thursday, Jan. 25. He will present a national vision for the arts and talk about the NEA’s work with state arts agencies.

Also on Thursday, Scott Finn, CEO and executive director of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, will speak.

Local government leaders and grassroots activists will talk about how their communities are incorporating more arts and what it has meant for their cities, residents and visitors.

On Friday, Jan. 26, Nancy Daugherty, arts education specialist for the NEA, will talk about federal grant opportunities available through the NEA.

That same day, Laura Smith, chief advancement officer for the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, will discuss new trends in philanthropy, and Theresa Colvin, executive director of the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, will discuss the foundation’s partnerships and programs as they relate to West Virginia.

Workshops and breakout sessions focusing on grant writing will round out the program.

The “Arts in Our Communities” conference is free. Online registration and information about special hotel rates at the Holiday Inn Express Civic Center are available at  

For more information about the free arts conference, contact Barbie Smoot at

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History is an agency within the Office of Secretary of Education and the Arts with Gayle Manchin, cabinet secretary. The division, led by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, brings together the past, present and future through programs and services focusing on archives and history, arts, historic preservation and museums. For more information about the division’s programs, events and sites, visit The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.