Grant to promote museums

August 4, 2011

By GINNY WRAY - Bulletin Staff Writer

Local organizations hope a new state grant will help visitors “Discover Martinsville’s Museums.”

That is the name of an initiative that was awarded a state grant, announced Tuesday, to develop brochures and advertisements promoting the area’s museums.

The goal of the “Discover Martinsville’s Museums” initiative is to make Martinsville a destination for visitors, showing them that there is enough to do here so they can spend the day, according to Ryan Barber, marketing and public relations director for the Virginia Museum of Natural History (VMNH), one of the partners in the initiative.

“We want to give people a reason to drive here and spend a day,” he said of the campaign. “We want to promote what we have.”

“What we have” are the natural history museum, Piedmont Arts and the Martinsville-Henry County Historical Society, which operates a historical center and museum in the former Henry County courthouse in Martinsville. Those groups are partners in the initiative, along with the Tourism Office of the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp.

They received $9,925 from Virginia Tourism Corporation marketing leverage grant program, announced by Gov. Bob McDonnell on Tuesday. The partners will provide funds to match the grant, creating a total of $19,850 for the effort.

Barber said one part of the effort will include printing 15,000 brochures that will promote the four partners’ facilities and programs. He hopes the brochures will be ready in September to be distributed through local hotels, the Visitors Center and each partner.

A series of advertisements also is being prepared for publication in the Virginia Travel Guide, which Barber said is circulated throughout the state and the East Coast; Showcase Magazine; Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and Virginia Living Magazine.

The partners also plan a public relations campaign to take advantage of free outlets, such as press releases, website listings, calendars and other options, Barber said.

The grant was limited to four partners, he said. But, he added, the partners hope to be able to expand their group in the future and involve more museums, such as the Fayette Area Historical Initiative (FAHI) African American Museum and Cultural Center.

This was the first time the local groups worked together for a grant, Barber said, although they have cooperated on other advertisements and promotions before. He and Jennifer Doss of the Tourism Office learned about the program from the state on May 25, and they approached the other partners June 16.

“The program was very competitive,” he said, with a detailed process and strict guidelines for applicants.

“It was a really strong accomplishment for all the partners to be able to work together to come up with information for the grant application,” he said.

In all, more than 40 local tourism initiatives across Virginia shared nearly $800,000 in the tourism marketing grants. Barber said the program has existed before but funds for it were increased this year.

“We’re very excited about it,” he added.


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