MECC Foundation Announces $1.5M Slemp Foundation Gift for Outdoor Amphitheater

Big Stone Gap — The C. Bascom Slemp Foundation will provide a $1.5M gift to construct a 1000-seat outdoor amphitheater on the campus of Mountain Empire Community College for campus and community events.

The gift comes as the MECC Foundation launches a campaign to raise $2M as part of the college’s 50th anniversary. Fundraising will support three priorities as defined by the MECC Foundation – scholarships, infrastructure needs, and unrestricted giving. The college commemorated the 50th anniversary of its groundbreaking with a community picnic held on Friday, October 1, 2021. Additional events, including a community concert featuring country artist Darrell Scott and local band If Birds Could Fly is scheduled for Saturday, May 14, 2022 and a 50th Anniversary Gala on Saturday, October 15, 2022.

“MECC is appreciative of the Slemp Foundation’s generous gift honoring our 50th anniversary as well as their investment in providing an amazing outdoor venue for student and community cultural opportunities on MECC’s campus,” said MECC President Kristen Westover.

The outdoor amphitheater project is the first major infrastructure addition to the MECC campus in more than a decade and has been included in the college’s Master Facilities Plan for many years. The projected cost of the project is expected to land between $1.5M – $5M depending on the scale of additions such as public restrooms, covered seating areas, and sound and lighting equipment. The Slemp Foundation has requested a $500,000 match in additional fundraising for the project.

The amphitheater is expected to be constructed in the field adjoining Phillips-Taylor Hall’s Goodloe Center, with the Powell Mountain visible in the background. The college expects to hold graduation, outdoor classroom learning opportunities, Home Craft Days and Mountain Music School events, as well as partner with Pro-Art, the Crooked Road, the Barter Theater, and other municipal and non-profit entities to host community events at the facility.

“The Slemp Foundation is pleased to be able to participate in this project and value the long-term impact that it will have in these communities,” said Nancey Edmonds Smith, Co-Trustee.

When Mountain Empire Community College was established fifty years ago, Virginia Community College Chancellor Dana Hamel proclaimed, ‘It’s a Great Day to be alive in the Commonwealth’ and the late Big Stone Gap native Governor Linwood Holton claimed ‘It’s Opportunity Time.’ The late Governor Holton and Chancellor Hamel were correct 50 years ago … and today. In this 50th anniversary year, and beyond, we can make every day a Great Day and Opportunity Time at Mountain Empire Community College,” said MECC Foundation Chair Mark Musick.

“This is an incredible opportunity for not only the college but our community to host large-scale learning events, festivals, and music and cultural heritage events on campus. This will be a wonderful addition to the venue offerings in Southwest Virginia, supporting economic development and community engagement in our region. We are grateful to the Slemp Foundation for their continued support of MECC, our students, and our entire community,” said Dr. Amy Greear, Executive Director of the MECC Foundation.

The Slemp Foundation is a private foundation established through the will of the late Campbell Bascom Slemp, U.S. Congressman from Virginia. The Slemp Foundation has awarded over $34 million in scholarships, pledges and charitable grants since its inception in 1946. With the growth of this Foundation, virtually every aspect of life in Lee and Wise Counties has been influenced.

The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation supports the mission of Mountain Empire Community College by providing scholarships and funding for student success programs, professional development for faculty, and cultural programs for the community. The Foundation supports more than $800,000 in scholarships annually. For information on the college’s 50th anniversary, visit To give to the MECC Foundation, visit  For more information regarding scholarships or to establish a scholarship, please contact the Mountain Empire Community College Foundation at 276.523.7466 or visit