Press release from ArtsAVL:
Starting April 8th, you can ride ArtAVL’s new free ArtsAVL Connect Trolley – connecting the Downtown and River Arts Districts with two overlapping routes.
The initiative is a partnership between ArtsAVL and Gray Line Asheville. Beginning April 8th, two chartered Gray Line trolleys will circulate on 20-30 minute intervals from 12-8 pm on every Second Saturday. Riders are welcome to hop on and off anywhere along the trolley routes.
The Downtown Trolley connects the main areas of the Central Business District to the River Arts District. The River Arts Trolley loops throughout the River Arts District. Residents and visitors can view stops and current location of trolleys through the interactive trolley map on ArtsAVL’s website and the new ArtsAVL app.
ArtsAVL’s recent Buncombe County Creative Jobs Pandemic Report shows that among the 20 sectors in Buncombe County, the Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation (A, E, & R) sector had the fastest jobs growth rate at 53% from 2015-19. However, from 2019-20, A, E, & R experienced the greatest percentage of employment loss in Buncombe County — an overall loss of 34% representing a decline of over 1,300 jobs.
Through the new trolley service, ArtsAVL hopes to support the recovery of the local creative sector — a driving force in the local economy. Katie Cornell, ArtsAVL executive director, says “as the designated arts agency for Buncombe County, our mission is to directly support artists and arts organizations, and what better way to do that than to encourage people to fully explore these vibrant arts districts.”
The project builds on the success of the River Arts Districts Artists’ (RADA) program which has circulated in the River Arts District for over a dozen years. RADA supports ArtsAVL’s move to take over management of the trolley service. “Our goals as an organization are to help our artists thrive, keep the arts alive in the River Arts District, and open up avenues for creativity to flow among artists and our visitors,” says RADA president Julie Bell. “We believe ongoing support of a robust, free art trolley system connecting the River Arts District and the downtown art venues is an important link in support of these goals.”
Lead sponsorship for the trolley’s pilot year comes from Explore Asheville and from a grant through the North Carolina Arts Council, with additional support provided by a number of community partners. Vic Isley, President and CEO of Explore Asheville and the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority said, “We are delighted to be a lead supporter of ArtAVL’s Connect Trolley, which will provide connectivity for residents and dispersal of visitors from the heart of downtown to the vibrant River Arts District. We hope this pilot project will help support the vitality of businesses in both districts, including Asheville’s artists and art galleries as a core of our community’s creative spirit.”
For more information about the ArtsAVL Connect Trolley, visit artsavl.org/trolley.