Matt Peiken | BPR News

If the arts in Asheville were a representative democracy, it might look a lot like a new coalition built by the Asheville Area Arts Council

The coalition is designed as a collective voice for the arts community in setting city and county budgets and the shaping of public policies and priorities.

“What’s happened with our arts sector is it’s become extremely siloed, and so a lot of people have had to fend for themselves,” said Katie Cornell, the arts council’s executive director and architect of the coalition. “There’s no way for us to support the entire sector without building a network, so this arts coalition was the way that we’re building this network.”

Patrick Fitzsimmons first took office as mayor of Weaverville in August of 2021.  Three months later, he was elected to a full-term representing the town of just over 4,000 people in Buncombe County.

Courtesy of Omni Grove Park Inn

The Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville hosted it’s 29th Annual National Gingerbread House Competition on Monday. The event was  in-person for the first time since the pandemic. 

Matt Peiken | BPR News

Julyan Davis has evolved into a novelist in part through stubbornness but, as he sees it, also by necessity. Davis is far from blind, but degenerating eyesight has prompted visits over the past decade to ophthalmologists.

“An ophthalmologist some years ago, I guess he skipped the semester on diplomacy, but he said ‘What do you do for a living?’ I said I’m an artist, and he said ‘Oh that’s a shame.’” Davis recalled. “I said ‘What do you mean?’ and he said ‘Just down the road, it might be a problem with your eyes.’ So that kind of inspired me to focus on the writing, sort of as a backup career.”

Davis has earned his living and public profile over nearly 30 years in Asheville as a painter. His first published novel is titled “A History of Saints.” Davis is reading from his book Dec. 1 at Blue Spiral Gallery in Asheville, where he has presented his paintings for many years.

Lilly Knoepp

Republican state senator Kevin Corbin will not run for Congress, and will instead run for re-election to his current office.  The first-term senator said last week he was considering a run for the GOP nomination in North Carolina’s 14th Congressional district, but made it official this morning that he will instead seek to stay in the General Assembly. 

Courtesy of Jack Horton

Jack Horton has been involved in local Western North Carolina politics since the 1970s. In November, he ran unopposed to become Franklin’s new Mayor. BRP's Lilly Knoepp spoke with Horton about his career and what he hopes to achieve in his new role. 

The inaugural cycle of StoryCraft, a partnership between BPR and Asheville Writers In The Schools and Community, used an exploration of the senses as our north star during a series of six youth storytelling workshops at the Grant Center.  

Our goal was to facilitate a genuine experience of identity exploration at a variety of levels through: 

Simplicity: making sure their experiences and voices are captured without concerns of format, right or wrong.  

Emotional engagement of the senses: allowing the inner landscape to be voiced through it.  

Matt Bush / Blue Ridge Public Radio

In this episode of The Porch, a production of the BPR news team, we hear from -

It's not even 2022 yet

Nov 18, 2021

New maps made new lines.  Those inspired Western North Carolina's Congressman to run somewhere else, meaning the region will have a member of Congress come 2023.  Maybe.

What happens when you put a microphone and camera in the hands of youth? When you guide them through an exploration of the senses and encourage their creative expression? When you make space for youth and adults to collaborate, using a model that works to disrupt power dynamics and involve young people in shaping the programming? 

Matt Peiken | BPR

On a recent Friday night, the avant garde musical duo Okapi performed for a handful of people at Revolve in Asheville. The only illumination came from two table lamps and a few candles behind them and a string of tiny footlights along the cement floor.

Three years ago, Scott Gorski and Lindsey Miller struggled to get gigs. Today, the bass and cello duo might be Asheville’s busiest touring outfit.

wearing a pink tee shirt and holding a notebook, Tori Stinson reads her poem to a group sitting on chairs in a circle on the stage of the Grant Center auditorium.
Cass Herrington

In the second part of StoryCraft, artist mentors Elizabeth Garland and Micah Mackenzie introduce us to 15-year-old Tori Stinson. During our series of summer storytelling workshops at the Grant Center, Tori used the writing prompt “Who am I?” to examine how dance defines her as a person, how she calls on dance to help her through difficult times. Here’s an excerpt: 

Dance makes me calm.  

Dance is who I am, I am freestyle dance.  

Dance is my escape, it’s my escape from negative energy and bad things.  

Dance is my superpower.  

Reaction to Cawthorn's move varies across WNC

Nov 17, 2021
Cory Vaillancourt

It hasn’t even been a week since Congressman Madison Cawthorn announced he would run in North Carolina’s newly drawn 13th district.  In his current district, the political consequences of his decision are only just beginning to emerge.

A federal government housing voucher program is making the problems it was designed to alleviate only worse in the South.  That's according to a six-month investigation done by the USA Today Network.

BPR is pleased to announce StoryCraft, a youth engagement partnership with Asheville Writers In The Schools and Community (AWITSC). Together, we’re collaborating on storytelling workshops for local youth and making space for their voices on BPR’s airwaves and digital platforms. Listen to the on-air pieces here: 

StoryCraft Part 1: I am music 

StoryCraft Part 2: Dance is my everything

In the first part of StoryCraft, we learn about the origins of the partnership with BPR and Asheville Writers In The Schools and Community, and we introduce you to one of the youth poets – 15-year-old Antonio Stinson, now in the 9th grade at Asheville High School. During StoryCraft’s summer 2021 storytelling workshops, Antonio used the writing prompt “Who am I?” to develop a powerful poem that uses musical structure and composition to explore the role music plays in his life.  

Preston Blakely for Fletcher Facebook

Preston Blakely is in his first term as a city council member for the town of Fletcher.  But by the end of the year, the 27-year-old will be mayor of the town of over 8-thousand in Henderson County.

Equity Erased Pt. 3: A box full of cash and an empty promise

Nov 12, 2021

Most homeowners could never fathom strangers acquiring a portion of their property, obtaining a court order to sell it without their consent and depriving them of the value they’d accrued over years or decades of ownership.

There are legal protections against that, Tasha D’Ascanio thought — until it happened to her.

Western North Carolina Congressman Madison Cawthorn has made it official - he will not run for reelection in his current district, but will rather run in the newest Congressional district drawn in North Carolina.


More than 24,000 children in North Carolina have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine according to state health secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen.  The lower-dose Pfizer COVID vaccine got the green light for 5- to 11-year-olds  late last week.   

"The data shows that the lower dose of the Pfizer COVID vaccine protects children from serious illness and there were no serious side effects," said Dr. Cohen during a media briefing on Wednesday .

Cory Vaillancourt

1898 was a violent year in North Carolina.  The white supremacist coup that took place in Wilmington that year is getting more and more attention as history is re-examined.  Similar racist violence took place across the state that year, including an incident in the mountains that can still be felt today. 

History teacher John deVille convened a group of marchers in Franklin on a cold Saturday evening.

“We are here tonight to remember Mitchell Mozeley, who was killed illegally by a mob 123 years ago tonight,” said deVille.

Many veterans still feel the call to serve

Nov 10, 2021
Cory Vaillancourt

Veteran’s Day celebrates the service of members of the armed forces.  For some of those veterans, their service never stops, even years after they take off that uniform for the last time.

For the Haywood County chapter of Big Brothers/Big Sisters, that service means a little something extra.

Equity Erased Pt. 2 - Imperfectly Legal: Forced sales hurt heirs, poor homeowners

Nov 10, 2021

Five hundred dollars was all it took for Robert Perry Tucker II to gain an interest in an Asheville home that had been owned by a Black family since 1918. 

Two elderly heirs signed deeds selling their shares of the home to a Tucker company for $250 apiece. With their ownership in hand, Tucker’s company used a Reconstruction-era law to force a sale of the entire property, and another Tucker company bought it at auction for $3,750.

BPR News graphic

In the early 2010s, anyone following the author Wiley Cash on Facebook would find what they’d likely expect. There were posts about Cash’s upcoming books and readings, raves about other authors and some photos of Cash’s wife and the birth of their first child. But toward the middle of the decade, Cash began sprinkling in posts of a more political nature.

“I am no journalist, but somebody who engages publicly with ideas and doesn’t only launch my ideas out in a book every three to four years or whenever I can get around to publishing them,” Cash said. “I saw whatever tiny mouthpiece I have in my corner of the Internet or book tour as a valuable place to share the ideas that I have.”

Lilly Knoepp/Courtesy of Tim Radford

Monday mornings for the rest of year, BPR is going to be talking to some of the new mayors in our region who were elected to their offices for the first time in this month’s election.  We start this series by going west to not just the end of our listening area, but the end of North Carolina.  BPR’s Lilly Knoepp spoke with Tim Radford, who will be the new mayor of Murphy:

Equity Erased Pt. 1: Real estate deals strip elderly, poor of homes and land

Nov 8, 2021
Pat Barcas, AVL Watchdog

Many were elderly or Black homeowners in distress. Some were vulnerable to a Reconstruction-era property law abused so often that it has been rewritten in other states, but not North Carolina.

Would you like to help strengthen Blue Ridge Public Radio’s relationship with the Western North Carolina Community? Got ideas for enhancing BPR’s programming and increasing impact? 

Just one month after the protests following the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Asheville City Council approved a resolution calling for reparations for the city's black community.  16 months later, most of the details are still being worked out.

This episode is not really about Jon Gruden, whom John Shoop worked for with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2004.  It isn't really about Bruce Allen either, who was the general manager of that team.  It isn't about the email exchanges between Gruden and Allen that were recently revealed that led to Gruden's resignation as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders on October 11th, 2021.  They're all just actors in the play.  This episode of Going Deep is really about the characteristics of white supremacy culture

Matt Peiken | BPR News

Decades before he retired from the ministry, Fred Northup devoted himself to a more creative calling.

“I wrote this play, actually, 40 years ago,” Northup recalled. “And we did it, but I’ll just say, I failed, let’s put it that way.” 

But since that regrettable premiere, Northup never gave up on remounting what he titled “David: The Faces of Love.”