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About the Festival

The Festival of the Arts began in 1995 with the theme Spotlight on America – From Sea to Shining Sea!

Since its inaugural year, the countries of Germany, Italy, Austria, England, Russia, France the Appalachian Region of the United States, and others have been featured through the festival.

Mission of the Festival

The mission of the festival is to provide an in-depth exploration of the cultural riches of countries and cultures around the world to create a better understanding of those nations and cultures. The multi-week festival consists of numerous musical performances, including vocal, instrumental, and solo presentations. Dance, theatre, literature, visual arts, culinary arts, and film are other areas of exploration.

Student Involvement

Students from the dance, theatre, culinary, and music departments at Southwest participate, as well as community singers in the SWCC Community Chorus. SWCC art students design the festival logo each year and prepare art exhibits that reflect the artistic heritage of the country in the spotlight. Workshops are conducted by visiting artists and a Spotlight event is held each year to showcase student talent.

Acclaimed Artists

Most performances are presented by nationally and internationally acclaimed artists, among them: pianists Pavlina Dokovska; violinists Yuri Vodovoz and Rob Taylor; violist Ariel Rudiakov; cellist Diliana Momtchilova; flutist Massimo Mercelli; sopranos Stefka Evastieva and Karen Bureau; the Kandinsky Trio and Garth Newel Chamber Players; Walt Michael and Company and Madeline MacNeil, dulcimer.

Special Guests

Special guests have been actor Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., Dr. Gottfried Wagner, musicologist; Chandler Cowles and Henry Taylor, Pulitzer Prize winners; Dr. Gideon Waldrop, former Dean of the Juilliard School of Music and President of the Manhattan School of Music; composer David Tcimpidis; writers Lee Smith and Sharyn McCrumb.

Community Support

The success of the festival is due to the support of the community: area individuals and families, alumnus, businesses, civic organizations, local government and school divisions, and local and regional family foundations whose financial support is paramount to the success of our programming. For festival sponsorship information, please contact Mary Lawson at 276-385-0104 or mewlawson13@gmail.com.

Festival Team

Festival Directors: Mary W. Lawson & Morgan Gilbert

Artistic Director: Pavlina Dokovska, Chair, Mannes College of Music Piano Department and Vladimir Valjarevic, Piano Faculty, Mannes College of Music

Festival logo design: SWCC student Richard Keen

Choral Director: Dr. Joseph Trivette, SWCC Albert Endowed Chair in Music

Cultural Walk Directors: Randy & Julie Forehand, Morgan Gilbert, Nyoka Muawad, Olivia Ratliff

School of the Arts Coordinators: Olivia Ratliff, Regina Rice, Nyoka Muawad, Stephen Gilbert, Hyacynth Barbera, Holli Starnes


Technical Director: Ryan Magee

Business Manager: Karen Brown

Facility Coordinator: Brandon Hensley

Marketing Coordinators: John Dezember and Travis Roberts


SWCC Educational Foundation Executive Director: Stacey McGhee

SWCC VP of Institutional Advancement: Dr. Susan Lowe

SWCC President: Dr. Tommy Wright

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All Locations: 2-Hour Delay on Monday, January 22, 2024.