State Tourism Office Selects Harrisonburg as a New LOVEwork Destination

For Immediate Release:  
March 18, 2013

Media Contacts:
Nicole Martorana
Artist, LOVEworks Harrisonburg
Promotions Manager, Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance
nicole.martorana@harrisonburgva.gov | (540) 432-8909

Brenda Black
Director of Tourism, Harrisonburg Tourism & Visitor Services
brenda.black@harrisonburgva.gov | (540) 432-8935

Tamra Talmadge-Anderson
Director of Public Relations, Virginia Tourism Corporation
ttanderson@virginia.org | (804) 201-7839

State Tourism Office Selects Harrisonburg as a New LOVEwork Destination
-Harrisonburg is one of 11 sites chosen as part of Virginia is for Lovers social media marketing campaign-

(HARRISONBURG, VA) –  The Virginia Tourism Corporation has chosen Harrisonburg as one of 11 sites across the state to build and promote a large piece of public artwork, LOVEworks Harrisonburg.  The LOVEwork structures are the focal point of a social media campaign by Virginia Tourism Corporation to share the message that love is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. Harrisonburg will join 20 other existing LOVEwork sculptures found across the state featured on www.virginia.org/LOVE as part of the Virginia is for Lovers tourism marketing campaign.

Visitors to Harrisonburg will be encouraged to take a picture with the LOVEwork and share on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Visitors and residents alike are encouraged to connect with LOVEworks Harrisonburg at www.Facebook.com/LOVEworks.Harrisonburg and www.twitter.com/LOVEworksHburg.

They are also encouraged to connect with the statewide campaign at www.Facebook.com/VirginiaisforLovers or on Twitter with the hashtag #LOVEVA.  A complete list of LOVE artwork locations across the state can be found at www.Virginia.org/LOVE.

“Virginia is for Lovers is about love – pure and simple, and has been for more than 40 years,” said Rita McClenny, president and CEO of the Virginia Tourism Corporation. “This program uses the power of social media to promote Virginia as an ideal destination for families looking to completely connect on a Virginia vacation.”

The Harrisonburg LOVEwork will receive up to $1,200 in reimbursement funding from the state tourism office and support through in-kind sponsorship and donations by community businesses and organizations.  Construction will begin in Harrisonburg in March and the LOVEwork will be unveiled on Saturday, April 13 at 11:00 am. The unveiling ceremony will feature a ribbon-cutting with the artists – Nicole Martorana, Jeff Guinn, and Mike Herr – as well as representatives from the Virginia Tourism Corporation, Harrisonburg Tourism, Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance, Arts Council of the Valley, city officials, community partners, and local supporters. The unveiling will take place at the location of the LOVEworks artwork in the grassy lot behind the Arts Council of the Valley, facing the Municipal Parking Lot and the Turner Pavilion, in downtown Harrisonburg.

“Harrisonburg and Rockingham County compose a unique community in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, with a diversity of ethnic backgrounds, a rich agricultural heritage, an abundance of outdoor recreational opportunities, and a vibrant and growing arts scene,” says Nicole Martorana, artist for LOVEworks Harrisonburg and Promotions Manager for Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance. “LOVEworks Harrisonburg seeks to provide an interactive, educational representation of these strengths and serve as a community gathering place. I’m thrilled to be a part of this project as both an artist, a long-time member of the community, and a downtown employee.”

Each letter will represent one of these four focus areas – ethnic diversity, agriculture, outdoor recreation, and the arts – and will be constructed of locally sourced and re-purposed materials. As a unifying element, each letter will have a built-in bench to allow for photo opportunities and community engagement. The letters will sit on a base of local bluestone, the same attractive and stable material that has become a signature of buildings throughout the area and on the campuses of Harrisonburg’s higher education institutions, James Madison University and Eastern Mennonite University. Educational plaques describing the broader cultural themes, materials used and their significance, and the names of the local artists who designed the sculpture and contributing community partners will be on display with the sculpture.

“Building the LOVE artwork was a perfect opportunity for our local artists to express their creativity and LOVE of community to share with friends, family, and visitors, while connecting Harrisonburg to Virginia’s statewide Virginia is for Lovers campaign,” said Brenda Black, Director of Tourism. “Harrisonburg was designated one of the first Arts and Cultural districts in Virginia and continues to embrace new events, exhibitions, and performances and celebrate the cultural diversity of our community, ancestry of farming, healthy lifestyles, and our love of the arts.”

Tourism is an instant revenue generator for Virginia. In 2011, Virginia Tourism generated $20.4 billion in visitor spending, supported 207,000 jobs, and provided $1.32 billion in state and local taxes for Virginia’s communities.

Tourism was again an important contributor to the local economy in 2011. Tourism revenue for the City of Harrisonburg reached $ 102.50 million, a 10.5 percent increase over 2010. Local tourism-related taxes were $3.77 million.

Love is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. Visit www.Virginia.org to learn more or call 1-800-VISITVA to request a free Virginia is for Lovers travel guide.

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Note to media: Images of the Virginia is for Lovers LOVEworks are available for publication at www.vatravelstories.com, the official pressroom of the Virginia Tourism Corporation.

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