Asheville’s Black Cultural Heritage Trail Phase II

Artists sought for public art displays.

From the River Area Trail, Stop #5: The Untils. Photo courtesy of Buncombe County Special Collections, Pack Memorial Public Library, Asheville, NC.
From the River Area Trail, Stop #5: The Untils. Photo courtesy of Buncombe County Special Collections, Pack Memorial Public Library, Asheville, NC.

The Black Cultural Heritage Trail honors and preserves the rich heritage of Asheville’s Black community.

Sites and stories range from well-known landmarks visible in the community today to the unsung heroes and underrecognized achievements and contributions by the Black community in the past.

Explore Asheville, River Front Development Group, and the Asheville Black Cultural Heritage Trail (BCHT) Advisory Committee seek artists to submit qualifications for consideration for public art enhancements of the Asheville Black Cultural Heritage Trail. Public art is art utilizing any media such as murals or sculptures in public spaces that are free and open to the public.

Phase II of the Black Cultural Heritage Trail will include enhancement and placemaking through public art. The four interpretive goals for this project are:

  • Share the accomplishments and contributions of the Black community in Asheville.
  • Celebrate individuals and groups that supported the community.
  • Highlight Black people’s agency and the capacity to express individual power.
  • Combat or correct misconceptions and preserve history for future generations.

A working group of individuals from the BCHT Advisory Committee and Explore Asheville will review and choose the top four most qualified artists for this project. Those qualified artists will each be provided with a $2,000 honorarium to develop a project proposal around location(s) provided.

The working group is especially interested in art that highlights the proposed locations or narratives along the three sections of trail: Downtown, Southside, and River Area. Artists are encouraged to highlight accessibility, creativity, engagement for all ages, and the experience of the piece. The work could be a sculpture, mural, or other appropriate and engaging installation along the trail at one or more of the identified location options.

Artists will present their proposal to the working group. The working group will give the final recommendation to Explore Asheville and the BCHT Advisory Committee. Explore Asheville and the BCHT Advisory Committee will make the final selection for the Asheville Black Cultural Heritage Trail Phase II Project.

If chosen to develop and fabricate the Asheville Black Cultural Heritage Trail themed piece(s), the budget range for the entire project is $150,000 to $190,000 including art design and project management, fabrication, installation, travel, insurance, professional fees (legal, permitting, conservator assessments), signage, and educational materials.

heritage trail sankofa logo

History of the Project

In 2010, residents of Asheville’s historically Black East End neighborhood proposed a trail to celebrate Black cultural heritage. River Front Development Group, a Black community development nonprofit founded in Asheville in 1996, committed to achieving these projects. River Front Development Group focused on co-creating and sharing narratives of often overlooked Black Ashevillians. This trail celebrates the dignity, humanity, and agency of Black people. Community input on this project has been provided through the Asheville Black Cultural Heritage Trail Committee.

In 2018 Explore Asheville, powered by the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority, supported the creation of the Asheville Black Cultural Heritage trail in partnership with River Front Development Group through a Tourism Product Development Fund Grant. The process included community engagement, the creation of an advisory committee, research, design, installation, and the creation of a digital version of the trail.

Twenty-one signs at 14 sites throughout downtown, Southside, and the River Area in Asheville were installed in December 2023. The content of the trail informs the physical path that the trail takes through the historically Black neighborhoods that surround and include downtown Asheville.

Proposal Requirements

Explore Asheville invites applications from professional artists or designers aged 18 or older who are eligible to work in the United States. Qualified artists should have experience working within communities in or around Buncombe County and/or a proven record of accomplishment using materials and methods appropriate for large format outdoor art installations.

Artists who only have one qualification are encouraged to partner with another artist or maker who can fulfill the other qualifications. New artists and/or collaborations are encouraged. This call for qualifications is open to all, regardless of experience or size of portfolio.

To qualify, go to at bcht.exploreasheville.com/artist-qualification-application. Submissions of Qualifications must be received no later than May 30, 2024, at 5 p.m. For assistance, please contact Kimberly Puryear, Destination Project Manager, at [email protected] or (828) 210-2724.

Explore the Black Cultural Heritage Trail at bcht.exploreasheville.com/trail.

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