Faces in the crowd: WNC crowdfunding initiatives

Aerial artist Heather Poole, pictured, and her business partner Waverly Jones have recruited the help of three other movement specialists to open a professional acrobatic training facility in Western North Carolina. Poole and Jones' studio, the pair say, will be the only space offering pole fitness and aerial dance within two hours of Asheville. Photo courtesy of the Empyrean campaign

Crowdfunding platforms make it possible for individuals and organizations of any size to harness social networks and raise startup capital for projects that might otherwise fail due to lack of funding. Each week, Xpress highlights notable Western North Carolina crowdsourcing initiatives that may inspire readers to become new faces in the crowd.


“We, at Empyrean, believe it is possible for anyone to find joy and creativity in fitness through movement art,” reads the group’s crowdfunding page. “Yes, that means you!” Comprised of five advanced performers, the Empyrean team seeks to open a dedicated aerial and pole arts training space for professionals and beginners alike. This facility, they write, would help turn Western North Carolina into a destination for renowned aerial artists who currently seek advancement opportunities elsewhere. Community classes would include pole fitness, contortion, aerial dance trapeze, strength and conditioning, ballet and partner yoga. The loose-jointed troupe, which reports strong regional interest in the project, aims to raise $20,000 for studio construction and equipment, a website, rent, insurance and crowdfunding fees.


The adjective ‘aeolian’ refers to “a moaning or sighing sound or musical tone produced by or as if by the wind,” according to Merriam-Webster. And a windy day is just the weather the Aeolian Research Team of Asheville is hoping will accompany Black Mountain College + Arts Center’s celebration on the former Black Mountain College campus — where the team will showcase their stringed, wind-driven instrument on April 4. Two altered pianos will be placed 200 feet apart with gusts replacing a pianist’s handywork. The resulting “sonification of wind,” the team hopes, will change the strings’ normal timbre and provide a wealth of data for further scientific and musical analysis. They’ll also hold an art showcase featuring parts of the deconstructed instruments at Horse + Hero on Thursday, April 2, at 6 p.m.  A.R.T. aims to raise $1,500 to stage the installation.


Photo from Friends of the Smokies' campaign page
Photo from Friends of the Smokies’ campaign page

Friends of the Smokies loves bears, which explains the group’s efforts to support environmental education and preservation in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Their latest venture tackles urban wildlife issues. “This research is aimed at keeping bears away from outside trash sources, keeping them healthier and living longer,” read’s the group’s campaign page. “Park biologists estimate there are more than 1,500 black bears in the Smokies, and we believe each one is worth protecting.” Friends of the Smokies aims to raise $5,000 for the black bear research program.

Send your crowdsourcing campaign news to kmcreynolds@mountainx.com. A limited number of campaigns will be highlighted each week, at Xpress‘ discretion. Campaigns must be locally based and should represent a current project with an achievable goal. Conditions are subject to change. Read about more Western North Carolina projects here.


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About Kat McReynolds
Kat studied entrepreneurship and music business at the University of Miami and earned her MBA at Appalachian State University. Follow me @katmAVL

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