After two years spent researching, developing and designing the project, a consortium of artists, venues and supporters last week launched LiveWireAsheville.com, which is intended to be a one-stop shop for info about Asheville-area performing arts. One of its main goals? To create a brand for Asheville's performing arts, and help better market the local arts scene.
The Web site is the brainchild of Charlie Flynn-McIver, artistic director for N.C. Stage Company, who has sought new and better ways to promote the panoply of local performing arts. In 2007, N.C. Stage snagged a $50,000 grant from the Merchant's Fund of the Community Foundation of WNC to create a better branding strategy for Asheville-area arts. In the time since, local arts leaders, institutions and performers have partnered with public-relations company Market Connections to build an all-inclusive online portal for artists, venues and fans of the arts — be they locals or tourists planning to take in Asheville's performance scene.
The result is LiveWireAsheville.com, which was already stocked with information from more than 60 organizations, clubs and festivals when it went live last week. The site's features include event calendars that allow users to search by date, genre or venue. In addition, groups, venues and artists are encouraged to upload their profile and event information for free via an interface on the site. Events and artists are organized by genres including comedy, dance, festivals, music, theatre and the decidedly Asheville category of "off-beat."
"Basically, Asheville is one, big, year-round arts festival, with something for almost everyone," Flynn-McIver noted as LiveWireAsheville debuted before members of the arts community at Diana Wortham Theatre on Nov. 5. He stressed studies that show how a vibrant arts scene bolsters the local economy, and said that the site would try to be a multiplier of attention to and attendance at local events. Noting that many artists and venues have limited marketing budgets, he suggested that LiveWireAsheville site will get performance information out cheaply and comprehensively to the consumers who are most interested in it.