Fourth Economy selected to lead strategic planning for Blue Ridge Music Center

Photo by Mike Duncan

Blue Ridge Music Center Amphitheater (1) Credit Harrol Blevins.jpg

Blue Ridge Music Center amphitheater with crowd during a concert. Photo by Harrol Blevins Blue Ridge Music Center amphitheater with crowd during a concert. Photo by Harrol Blevins
January 20, 2023

The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation has selected Fourth Economy, a leading economic development consulting firm, to guide a comprehensive effort to improve and expand the regional impacts of the Blue Ridge Music Center. This work is made possible by a $50,000 Strong Parks Strong Communities grant from the National Park Foundation.

The Blue Ridge Music Center, located near Galax, Virginia, at milepost 213 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, is operated by the National Park Service and celebrates the music and musicians of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Since 2012, the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation has coordinated the center’s onsite and offsite musical programming, including Midday Mountain Music, an annual summer concert series, Milepost Music, and concerts held in local communities.

Through this planning effort, the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation seeks to engage larger and more diverse audiences; increase the variety and volume of the center’s financial resources; and increase tourism spending in the surrounding communities.

“We are very thankful for the growth of the Blue Ridge Music Center over the last 10 years,” says Richard Emmett, program director for the center. “Now we need to build on those results to further benefit our visitors, local communities, and shared culture of mountain music.”

“It is an honor to work with the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation and its partners on this important project,” says Eve Critton, senior consultant with Fourth Economy. “Music is a common denominator, and programming that centers around music and culture has an uncanny ability to bring people together. Building on the music center’s beloved events to expand programming opportunities, while creating greater financial stability and moving the needle forward on regional tourism, will provide residents and tourists throughout the Parkway corridor an opportunity to benefit from the center’s offerings.”

About the Blue Ridge Music Center

Open May through October, the Blue Ridge Music Center is a national park facility, a major attraction along the Blue Ridge Parkway, and a venue partner of The Crooked Road: Virginia's Heritage Music Trail and the Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina. The Blue Ridge Parkway/National Park Service maintains and operates the facility and staffs the visitor center. The center’s music programs are managed, coordinated, promoted, and produced by the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation. For more information, visit

About Fourth Economy

As a strategy consultancy, Fourth Economy helps communities and organizations understand and build on their strengths, identify and seize new opportunities, overcome weaknesses, and mitigate threats. They use data creatively, engage in the conversations that matter with an inclusive set of voices, and bring their deep and diverse perspectives to bear to create actionable analysis and strategies. Learn more at

About the National Park Foundation

The National Park Foundation works to protect wildlife and park lands, preserve history and culture, educate, and engage youth, and connect people everywhere to the wonder of parks. We do it in collaboration with the National Park Service, the park partner community, and with the generous support of donors, without whom our work would not be possible. Learn more at