Our Mission

The Bascom creates visual art experiences that inspire and empower individuals and communities through seeing, thinking and doing.

The continuous goals of The Bascom's programming are building essential creative skills for area youth and adults, increasing professional development opportunities for artists and educators, and becoming a key player in the creative economy in Western North Carolina.

Our Campus

For over 30 years, The Bascom has been a vital cultural resource to the Western North Carolina region. What began in 1983 as a small exhibition space in one room of the Hudson Library now occupies a 6-acre former horse farm near downtown Highlands, NC.

The 28,000 square foot main building house exhibition and event spaces, classrooms, offices, and a retail outlet. The adjacent David Drak Studio contains studio space for pottery and three-dimensional arts instruction and additional retail space. Entrance to the campus is through an early 19th Century, 87-foot-long covered bridge. Along with sizeable terraces, our outdoor spaces include meadows and forest land, streams and trails, unblemished mountain views and sculpture installations. 

Our Reach

Our location just two hours from Atlanta, Asheville and Greenville, as well as our free admission, makes The Bascom accessible to a wide swath of the population, both near and far.

In 2019, more than 25,000 visited The Bascom. An additional 500 took classes in ceramics, drawing and painting, with more than 1200 youth participating in art activities. We reach another 3000 visitors and residents through our extensive outreach programs. We partner with local, county and state organizations and provide programming in local schools, libraries, senior centers, literacy councils, regional arts organizations and community nonprofits. 

Our Impact

Our impact on the regional artistic community is significant in that we support almost 300 working artists through residencies, retail sales, exhibition sales and instruction. The support equals nearly $300,000 each year in commisions, contract artist fees and stipends.

Innovating in Times of Adversity

In 2020, the global pandemic impacted all arts institutions, but The Bascom was able to pivot, bringing a variety of creative and artistic experiences to our audiences. We created virtual tours, online curator talks, and digital artist highlights for multiple exhibits. We partnered with a local middle school to offer online STEAM programs created through our residency program. We launched "Mr. Bill vs. The Box", our online children's art program, and distributed several hundred standards-based DIY art project packets through our "Take and Make" program.

Our Operations

The Bascom has an outstanding staff of seven professionals and recent budgets of $1.7 million. In 2020, due to COVID, we reduced the budget to $1.3 million. We are debt-free, financially sound, and have an endowment of $1.2 million. We have a committed board of 21 directors organized by committees.

Our Support

The Bascom enjoys broad community support. Our fundraising events are popular and draw large crowds. Over the last decades we have received donations from more than 8000 contributors throughout the Southeast. As of October 31, 2020, we have raised close to $800,000 from more than 500 individuals donors and grant-giving institutions.

Covering the Bascom

Local and regional media frequently feature The Bascom, encouraging visitors both near and far. The October 2020 edition of Our State magazine included The Bascom as one of the "35 of North Carolina's Most Unforgettable Museums" highlighted in their cover story. The Bascom was also featured in Garden and Gun magazine's article "The Western North Carolina Mountains are Calling" (October/November 2020), which included photographs of our entrance and pottery from the David Drake Studio.