The Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College received West Virginia’s highest folklife honor, the Vandalia Award, at a special Vandalia Gathering concert on May 29. Presented by the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, the award recognizes the organization’s achievements in digitizing the Augusta Archives and making it publicly accessible on the website

The state also wished to recognize Augusta for creating an online learning platform to keep master artists and learners safely connected during the worst days of the pandemic.

To date, Augusta has digitized over 500 tapes and many photos from its extensive archive featuring significant historical, cultural and musical recordings. Now, for the first time, the public is welcome to listen to performances, field recordings and stories from the comforts of home.

In the same service-oriented spirit, the Augusta Heritage Center continues to provide online lessons. This year, 75 of the nation’s leading culture-bearers will contribute pre-recorded music lessons and lead live online events. Instead of signing up for a single class, students have access to all lessons available. Recognizing that the pandemic has caused an uneven financial impact, Augusta grants access to courses through a donation system. Students are invited to pay what they can. The suggested donation amount is $100.

The Vandalia Award is presented each year during the annual Vandalia Gathering. Recipients of the award embody the spirit of the state’s folk heritage and are recognized for their lifetime contribution to West Virginia and its traditional culture.

Established in 1973, The Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College facilitates cultural education through immersive and experiential workshops in music, craft, dance, foodways and folklore. Augusta strives to highlight and elevate traditional folkways, particularly those of the underserved communities of Appalachia and beyond. Dances, concerts, festivals, film screenings, cultural sessions and other public events connect communities of learners and enthusiasts with master artists and culture-bearers year-round. Throughout its history, Augusta has nurtured a community of artists who have shared their talents and values in a cooperative, supportive environment.

Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College receives Vandalia Award.

Commissioner of the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History Randall Reid-Smith, right, presents the Vandalia Award to members of the Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College, from left, Technical Director Eric Armstrong, Artistic Director Emily Miller and Executive Director Seth Young. Photo by Steve Brightwell