Pro-Art Thanks Community for Successful Comeback in its 45th Season

Wise, VA – The Pro-Art Association would like to extend its gratitude for the generous outpouring of support garnered across its 45th season and the return to live programing. The past year saw record attendance and ticket sales as music, theater, and dance crept back into the gathering spaces of our communities. Pro-Art saw a 646% increase in ticket sales and a 49% increase in season ticket subscriptions from 2019—its last pre-pandemic season. This season brought Pro-Art first timers Cirque Mechanics (a mechanical circus featuring Cirque du Soleil veterans, and the organization’s largest technical undertaking since 2005), regional favorite ETSU Alumna and Grammy nominee Amythyst Kiah, Mad River Theater Works’ “Freedom Riders”, and Spanish timple musician Germán López, among others. “When contemplating how to return to live programming we hoped for a sort of Renaissance for the arts in our region and Southwest Virginia delivered,” said Executive Director Michael McNulty. “We are so grateful to have the opportunity to serve a culture so deeply rooted in craftmanship and artistic expression.”

The season featured a number of organizational firsts, including the nonprofit’s first open mic nights and two December evenings of Community Christmas Caroling in Big Stone and Pennington Gap. Held in Norton’s Expo Center, “In the Garage” open mic nights welcomed a multitude of local artists, from painters to poets to rock bands and everything in between. Pro-Art was also able to continue programming in Norton City, Wise, Lee, and Dickenson County Schools, working within districts’ Covid-19 guidelines, while ensuring accessibility to performances by admitting all students free to every show. Based on economic calculators from Americans for the Arts, Pro-Art’s 45th season is estimated to have had more than $860,000 in economic impact on the region we call home.


Thanks to a generous grant from the Rapha Foundation, Pro-Art is thrilled to announce the return of the organization’s Creative Arts Summer Camp, to begin in July of 2023. Between the late 1980’s and the early 2000’s, Pro-Art offered the camp to elementary, middle, and high school students in Wise County. According to reports from the Pro-Art Board of Trustees, the program was incredibly popular, often serving more than 100 students each summer. Parents and former participants still talk about the program fondly and a number of participants went on to work, teach, or participate in the arts as college students and working adults. Pro-Art is thrilled to be able to bring back this cherished summer experience through the support of the Rapha Foundation.

Like the original “camp,” the program will center around a musical theater production, with a curricular foundation in music, theater, dance, craft, and design to accompany the experiential work of creating a performance. There is a wealth of evidence in educational and medical literature about the value of the arts in the physical and mental health and development of children. Under the direction of music and drama teacher Gabby Barnette, the Creative Arts Summer Camp aims to offer elementary and middle school students an intensive summer arts experience. Pro-Art aims to do this at minimal or no cost to the students’ families, in order to allow access to all children.

The Rapha Foundation is a 501(c)(3) philanthropic organization formed in 2019 following the merger of Ballad Health and Norton Community Hospital. Under the direction of Executive Director Mark S. Vanover, the foundation is dedicated to improving population health and access to education across Southwest Virginia.

Pro-Art’s mission is to promote the arts and expand accessibility to cultural experiences for residents and students in Wise, Lee, and Dickenson Counties and the City of Norton. For more information about our planned performances, please visit You can find the Pro-Art Association on social media @ProArtVA.

Pro-Art is supported in part by a grant from the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the Slemp Foundation, The University of Virginia’s College at Wise, and Mountain Empire Community College. For more information about Pro-Art, please visit, call the office at (276) 376-4520, or send an email to


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