More of what’s going around:

Madison County commissioners on Thursday night agreed to sell the county’s old jail building, which has been vacant for the past few years. The group accepted a nearly $100,000 bid for the decrepit building. Commissioners said the buyer planned to renovate the building, and is working with a group of potters to occupy part of the building. Asheville potter Josh Copus, founder of Clayspace Co-Op in the River Arts District in Asheville, announced on Facebook that he and a group of partners had bought the building. The Mountain Xpress is also reporting the sale, and has an excellent history of the jail building here.

-Asheville city officials held a forum to talk about a new set of rules governing street performers in downtown earlier this week, but took no official action. The plan calls for creating a system of registering performers who want to play in six specific areas around town, and other requirements.

-A bill to install a system for district elections for Asheville City Council has been submitted in the N.C. General Assembly, reports the Asheville Citizen-Times.

ZaPow art gallery has now officially lost its lease at 21 Battery Park Ave. and must be out of that location by mid-September. The gallery owners are searching for a new location. Here’s a link to ZaPow’s crowdfunding effort.

Visitors to The North Carolina Arboretum, a 434-acre public garden located just south of Asheville, will enjoy a fun-filled outdoor adventure this summer and fall at the Arboretum’s newest exhibit, Nature Connects®, Art with LEGO® Bricks, on display throughout the Arboretum’s gardens July 30 – October 23, 2016, according to a press release. More:

Composed of more than 370,000 LEGO bricks, Nature Connects includes 14 nature-inspired sculptures constructed on a larger-than-life scale by renowned artist Sean Kenney. From a giant praying mantis, to a perched bald eagle, to a massive monarch butterfly made up of more than 60,000 LEGO bricks, Nature Connects draws inspiration from the living world and combines play with science to create an inspiring intersection of education, entertainment and the environment.

Based in New York City, Sean Kenney has been building with LEGO bricks since he was 4 years old. Having spent so much of his time playing with LEGO toys, he decided to make a career out of it. A self-described “professional kid,” Sean hopes his sculptures will inspire creativity and confidence in the children who see them.
In conjunction with the Arboretum’s annual Monarch Butterfly Day, September 17, 2016, the Arboretum will host a special Nature Connects Build Day. Participants are invited to create their own LEGO brick sculptures and learn more about the monarch butterfly and ways to contribute to the species’ conservation and preservation. Exhibit admission to Nature Connects and Monarch Butterfly Day is free; standard Arboretum parking fees still apply. For more information, please visit www.ncarboretum.org.

A new website covering all things Asheville is being launched by Asheville Radio Group. It’s called the828.com. More from the website:

Ever have a friend clue you in on the best biscuit in town? The most magnificent martini in the mountains? How about that secret spot for the perfect family picnic? A new website, The828.com, is connecting locals to the best things about life in Western North Carolina.

The Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority (BCTDA) has announced details of its new Event Fund program, according to a press release. More:

The grant program was developed to provide financial support for festivals and cultural events that serve Buncombe County residents as well as visitors to the area.

“Until now, BCTDA supported festivals and cultural events by leveraging its marketing assets to attract attendance,” noted Stephanie Pace Brown, BCTDA executive director. With nearly 5 million annual web visits, the ExploreAsheville.com site is one of the promotional tools used by tourism partners. “A recently launched advertising program on the site also provides an unrestricted revenue stream that is being used to assist with the operational needs of events that also help support and preserve the cultural identity of the community,” Brown added, noting the new discretionary income is not bound by the restrictions placed on the occupancy tax.
Applications for 2017 festivals and cultural events are due on Wednesday, August 31, 2016; grants will be announced, Thursday, September 29, 2016. For a Festivals and Cultural Events Support Fund 2017 Program Guide and Application form, visit AshevilleCVB.com.

Each year, Buncombe County welcomes 3.3 million overnight guests, providing a customer base that assists in the sustainability of businesses in the community and contributes to tax revenues. Annually, tourism generates a $2.6 billion economic impact to the region.

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