Here’s a roundup of news briefs from around Southwest and Southside. Send yours for possible inclusion to

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Roanoke neighborhood arts effort wins $75,000 NEA grant

The city of Roanoke has been approved for a $75,000 Our Town award from the National Endowment for the Arts to support Arts Connect Neighborhoods, a strategy to engage residents and strengthen neighborhoods through the arts. The city will match the grant with an additional $75,000.

The $150,000 project has been developed through a partnership of the Roanoke Arts Commission and the Roanoke Cultural Endowment, according to a news release announcing the grant.

The project will fund artists and arts organizations to provide fun, engaging and educational programs throughout the city, the release said.

“We expect to see a broad spectrum of arts activity happening all across the city,” David Wine, chair of the Roanoke Cultural Endowment, said in the release. “From performances and concerts to workshops, tours and creative classes, these activities will strengthen ties between neighbors and connect neighborhoods to the arts resources around them.”

The award is one of 57 grants nationwide, totaling almost $4.2 million, that the NEA has approved in the Our Town category.

An Arts Connect Neighborhoods catalog of offerings will be developed by the arts community in the fall of 2023 for free 2024 neighborhood events.

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Wytheville CC to offer youth computer classes

Wytheville Community College is offering online summer technology courses for students ages 8-14 through a program called Black Rocket.

Students can take courses in mobile app development, digital music production, game development and more.

Video demonstrations of Black Rocket courses are at Dates, times, and prices for each course vary. Contact Jane Mitchell, or 276-378-5214, for registration information.

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TAP offers free student and adult summer programming

Total Action for Progress in Roanoke will offer several free programs over the next few months:

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Free small business workshops in Patrick County

The Patrick County Chamber of Commerce and Longwood Small Business Development Center are offering two business workshops on June 28.

  • Canva for Small Business, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.: Learn to use Canva for all your marketing needs, from creating brand elements to building your social content. The workshop will include a group working session to create graphics in Canva together.
  • Social Media Marketing, 4 to 6 p.m.: Learn a variety of community-powered social media strategies for the top channels used by small businesses: Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Google Business.

Workshops are free to attend, and you may attend either one or both. Bringing your own personal laptop for group work is highly recommended.

Classes will be held in the Community Room at Patrick & Henry Community College’s Patrick County Site. Registration is required; visit For more information, contact the Patrick County Chamber of Commerce at or 276-694-6012.

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Virginia Tech research team receives grant to launch ‘Just Dis Tech’ project

A group of Virginia Tech faculty across a variety of disciplines has received a $502,000 grant to create local and regional programming for disability-led arts, culture, reflection and technology guidance.

The grant from the Andrew Mellon Foundation will fund a three-year project called “Just Dis Tech,” according to a news release from the university.

The researchers plan to launch an education and arts outreach residency program with artists focused on disability justice. They also will cultivate the emerging inclusive gaming community and establish a Disability Community Technology Center. 

Ashley Shew, associate professor in Virginia Tech’s Department of Science, Technology and Society, is the project’s leader.

One of the main goals of “Just Dis Tech” is to promote the value of disabled expertise in research for and about the disability community. Shew and her team will develop a network of disabled community members in southwestern Virginia and western North Carolina who will be available as paid consultants for disability-themed research projects.