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An arched, concrete bridge over a river, under a pink sunset.
Photo by Matthew H. Irvin
  • UPLIFT North Carolina

The Center’s partnership with UPLIFT North Carolina provides participatory workshops and mentorship, working with partners to support and develop festivals and cultural heritage tourism experiences that benefit both visitors and communities. Our partnership is focused on strengthening rural economies through bolstering quality tourism experiences. The two-year project began in July 2023.

UPLIFT supports tourism through community-driven efforts in rural North Carolina. This team works regionally—across county borders—to support local tourism leaders and practitioners in realizing their vision for tourism in their community. Their work supports natural, recreational, cultural, agricultural, culinary, built, and additional areas of tourism.

The organization has six foundational, acronymic building blocks that guide its strategy development for supporting a region:

  • Understand tourism knowledge and context
  • Plan to know what a community wants to achieve with tourism and how to get there
  • Link and build local networks, tourism experiences, and their local stories
  • Innovate and enhance the tourism experiences offered
  • Finance through connecting with and accessing resources
  • Tell the story of the region to attract visitors


Groups of people sit at tables in conversation in a room with exposed brick and air ducts.
Photo by Halle Butvin
Creating Engaging Festivals
Groups of people sit at tables during a presentation by one woman.
Photo by Halle Butvin
Conceptualizing & Enhancing Your Tourism Experience


In addition to in-person workshops, the Center produced virtual Q&As to dive deeper into the content and bring in other staff from the Smithsonian and beyond.

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