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National Trust Selects Field Representative for Arkansas Rural Heritage Development Initiative

Publication: Delt@ Links Newsletter

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has selected Beth Wiedower as field representative for the Arkansas Delta, a pilot region participating in the Rural Heritage Development Initiative (RHDI). The Rural Heritage Development Initiative, a new National Trust program funded in significant part through a three-year grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, is working with the regions to implement preservation-based economic development strategies.

Wiedower is a preservationist with several years of experience in the fields of community revitalization and cultural heritage development. An Arkansas native, Wiedower most recently served as the executive director of the Congaree Vista Guild, a historic urban arts and entertainment district in Columbia, South Carolina, where she was responsible for a quarter million dollar annual budget and the creation of marketing and promotional initiatives to increase tourism in the downtown district. Prior to that position, Wiedower was a tourism consultant for the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, which enabled her to travel the state and the country promoting Arkansas as a tourism destination and develop innovative programs to bolster the natural and cultural heritage of her home state. Wiedower holds an interdisciplinary degree in Southern Studies from Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas and a Master of Public History from the University of South Carolina with a specialty in historic preservation. In 2005, she was honored with a National Council on Public History award for her preservation work in Richmondshire, England. She will be based in Helena, Arkansas, at the Delta Cultural Center.

The Arkansas Delta was selected last fall to participate in the pilot program that will assist state and local partners in developing cultural and heritage assets for economic benefit. The Rural Heritage Development Initiative will address the many issues facing rural regions today – from development pressures to the loss of their traditional agricultural base – and bring together various multi-disciplinary services of the National Trust for intensive work with partners in the pilot regions over a three-year period. Key partners in the Arkansas Delta region include Main Street Arkansas, the Department of Arkansas Heritage, the Arkansas Delta Byways at Arkansas State University, and the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas.

Regional steering committees have been formed to provide direction for the work in each of the pilot areas. In the Arkansas Delta, the central focus will be on building preservation-based revitalization strategies – especially heritage tourism – around the region’s significant preservation and cultural assets, which include two National Scenic Byways and a rich music heritage. The National Trust has a long history of working on rural preservation and revitalization issues through its nationally-recognized Main Street program, which originally focused on small towns; its heritage tourism program; the Barn Again! program; rural design; and public policy advocacy.

To contact Beth Wiedower, field representative for the Arkansas Delta, please call 501-307-7744. For additional information about the National Trust’s Rural Heritage Development Initiative, please call the Center for Preservation Leadership Statewide and Local Partnerships Office, 202-588-6186 or visit the National Trust’s web site, www.nationaltrust.org.

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