USDA grant will be a shot in the arm for the arts, farmers markets

Beaver Dam-FM

Ohio County Farmers Market in Beaver Dam

A few years ago while attending Christ the King Oktoberfest in Lexington (admittedly one of my favorite festivals of the year because of their musical lineups) I paid a dollar for one of those pull tab things that you never win anything on and, lo and behold, I won $50. I had never been more excited in my life. I spent the evening telling anyone and everyone I ran into, known or unknown, that I had just won $50 and waving my $50 bill around as proof that this was the best thing that had ever happened to anyone on the planet, in the history of ever. While that may seem extreme, it was fun to feel so surprised at winning a little money that it certainly made the evening outstanding.

So, imagine my reaction when I received a phone call about two months ago from Jeff Jones and Dean Tandy with United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development telling me the Kentucky Arts Council was going to receive $51,000 for our project to integrate the arts into farmers’ markets in Owsley and Ohio counties. I was pretty sure I floated around for the next week without my feet touching the ground! In the months preceding this news, my coworkers Mark Brown and Sarah Schmitt, along with arts council Executive Director Lori Meadows and I, had spent countless hours developing this project proposal and preparing our grant application to the USDA. We were so excited about the work we wanted to do we had decided we would proceed with it on some level even if we didn’t get the funding.


Owsley County Farmer’s Market in Booneville

But, as you know by now, we did! And we have already begun preliminary work in both counties to get the project underway. Overall, the project that we have titled “Homegrown/Handmade” looks at ways to create opportunities for artists to sell alongside their agricultural counterparts at a local established venue – the farmers’ market. There are many results we hope to measure once the project has been completed. “Homegrown/Handmade” will generate new revenue for local artists and increased revenue for farmers in these counties and also will increase local tourism. It will provide extensive training opportunities for the artists, farmers and community members involved on a broad range of topics associated with small business development and community development. All of these trainings are free and open to the public, so if you live in counties nearby I am encouraging you to take advantage of these learning opportunities.

The arts council will be documenting every step of this project and will produce a publication at the end that will include a step-by-step guide for other communities in the state interested in going about the work of integrating their local artists and arts activities into the farmers market to enhance local culture.

Since announcing the grant, we’ve heard from residents in several communities who are sharing interesting ways they have been integrating the arts into their farmers markets during the last several years. I am glad to hear from Kentuckians who have already begun to examine the possibilities of how the arts can maximize the farmers market experience for communities.

We will be sharing more information with you via our blog and social media as the project moves along. Our first training opportunities are later this month and mark the first official activity for each project, developing a creative asset inventory. You can find the dates, times and locations for these trainings, and register, on the arts council’s website.

If your local farmers’ market includes the arts and artists and you would like to share that information, please feel free to contact me by email at

Emily B. Moses
Creative Industry Manager

Categories: Other

TranspARTation a valuable resource for offering students access to the arts

With constant changes occurring in educational expectations, it seems that educators are continually being asked to do more with less, and produce an outcome that is better than before. In these times of trials it is imperative that educators, especially arts educators, explore all avenues, and exhaust all possible resources, in order to create and sustain quality arts opportunities for the kids they teach. Sometimes it’s the lack of knowledge that resources exist, for others it’s the challenge of organizing their time to obtain these resources.

schoolbusOne resource teachers should examine is the Kentucky Arts Council’s TranspARTation grant, a valuable funding source that not only helps expose students to professional level art, but also helps schools align their curricula to the newly adopted Kentucky Academic Standards for the Arts.

Taking effect this past July, the Kentucky Academic Standards for the Arts focus on four processes of the arts: creating, performing/producing/presenting, responding, and connecting. By allowing teachers the use of arts processes, instead of dictation over select content, a keen sense of autonomy is generated and promoted in arts classrooms across the Commonwealth.

Because of this given autonomy, teachers are looking for ways their students can experience the arts outside of the school building. Yes, it’s great to expose students to the dramatic arts through student generated school performances, but what if students could be given the opportunity to experience the sights and sounds the live theater has to offer? What are the barriers to allowing students these opportunities? Money? Scheduling? Resources? Although each of these are important, we should not allow them to stand in the way of offering students quality arts experiences.

The TranspARTation grant is designed to provide Kentucky teachers and students the opportunity to attend quality arts performances outside the school walls through funding for transportation to and from arts performance venues. All Kentucky public and private schools, pre-K through 12, are eligible to apply and grants are awarded yearly. Applying is easy and can be done through the arts council’s website. With no match funding needed, and the dedication of a small amount of time, educators across the Commonwealth can take advantage of this great opportunity for their students to have a quality arts experience.

For more information please visit the Kentucky Arts Council website or contact Jean St. John, the arts council’s arts education director, at or 502-564-3757, ext. 486.

Dr. Kyle A. Lee
Coordinator, Visual and Performing Arts
Division of Program Standards
Kentucky Department of Education


Categories: Other

The journey to becoming a Kentucky Crafted artist

KyCraftedLogo_ColorWe asked Kentucky Crafted artist Bill Berryman to write about his experience preparing for and applying to the Kentucky Crafted program. Bill was adjudicated into the program in 2015 and had work on exhibit at the Kentucky Gallery of Kentucky Crafted: The Market. He is an art teacher at Sayre School in Lexington and lives in Winchester.

The deadline for applying for Kentucky Crafted is Aug. 15.


Bill Berryman

As I reflect back on this time last year, it brings back many emotions as I was busily preparing to apply for the Kentucky Crafted program. I was anxious because of the prestigious magnitude of the program and the thorough application process. A year later I can laugh, shake my head, and share my story with a new perspective of the entire experience.


At a Kentucky Arts Council workshop years ago, Ed Lawrence, the former director of the program, stressed upon us to start this process early and not to wait until the deadline. I’m glad I did! My application for a DUNS number, the unique number assigned to help identify businesses, was complicated by the DUNS website not letting me past the first stage. I had to call the company and they worked the issue out on their end. They were very supportive and kind.

I was also choosing the art to be entered, scheduling a professional photographer and composing and tweaking artist’s statements and the marketing copy.

When the time came to submit the application, the arts council staff was very helpful in confirming that they had received the application. I was impressed with how easy everyone was to work with and relieved that all the info and images had been received.

I had done all I could do and the waiting began.

Several weeks later I was humbled and excited to be notified by mail that I had been accepted into the program. It honestly took several months for the reality to settle in. During the program’s orientation meeting I looked at the talented group of individuals around me and couldn’t believe I was there among them. Since that time I was blessed by an invitation to exhibit in the first Kentucky Gallery, a curated shopping area within the annual Kentucky Crafted: The Market at Lexington Convention Center.  As part of the promotions for the event, I was asked to share my journey as an artist on the WUKY radio program Curtains @ 8 with Nick Lawrence. Both were such unique experiences and being on the radio forced me out of my comfort zone.

By being a part of such a special program as Kentucky Crafted, my confidence has risen, the quality and content of my work has gone to another level and creative opportunities have increased. I’m being invited to exhibit, demonstrate and share my work and story throughout the area. I have met and formed new friendships and relationships and have a new perspective of the creative process.

There are several benefits to being a Kentucky Crafted artist. Among those benefits are use of the Kentucky Crafted logo, eligibility to exhibit at Kentucky Crafted: The Market, inclusion in the online Kentucky Crafted directory and the opportunity to sell work at the Governor’s Derby Celebration.

As intimidated as I was about applying for Kentucky Crafted, the fruits of my labor have been a blessing. I have formed relationships with several staff members of the arts council, and have found them to be authentic, down to earth and fun individuals. I recently had one staff member email me to see how things were going because we hadn’t communicated for a while. Folks, that means a lot!

I’m proud to be a part of the Kentucky Crafted Program and encourage any artisan interested to seek further info from the council or an adjudicated member. It may change your life.

Bill Berryman
Kentucky Crafted artist

For more information about the program, contact David Blevins, arts council arts marketing director, at or 502-564-3757 ext. 473.


Categories: Other

Announcing the rebirth of

web-screencapIt’s a new fiscal year here in Kentucky state government, and with it comes a new face for our online presence,

This website relaunch has come after hours of meetings, rounds of proofreading and more than a spoonful of inspiration until we felt 100 percent confident in “pushing the button” to relaunch the site on the morning of July 1.

As stated in the official Kentucky Arts Council press release unveiling the new site, we have used the five areas of our six-year strategic plan as a framework upon which to build the site structure:

  • Creative Industry
  • Vibrant Communities
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Showcasing the Arts

The creative team charged with crafting the look of the new site had countless hours of discussion to arrive at the end result. Everything down to the size and shape of icon buttons was given careful thought. Design was based on the latest research trends, what constituents have asked for and what is considered to be functional and aesthetically pleasing. A lot of effort and creative thinking went into determining design, even down to the attractive color scheme that is used.

In addition, recreating the website was a fantastic opportunity to do some “spring cleaning” of content on our existing site. All content underwent thorough scrutiny, editing and, in some cases, purging from the site. Users can rest assured that content on the new site will be relevant and up-to-date.

We hope you enjoy this next iteration of our website, and we appreciate your feedback at

Tom Musgrave
Communications Director

Categories: Other

Federal Reserve recognizes Kentucky Arts Council contributions in eastern Kentucky

Interest in the development of economic diversification in eastern Kentucky as a result of the downturn in the coal industry is widespread. The arts have become central to the mission of sustaining a bright future in regions of the Commonwealth where coal is mined.

Logos-clusterAs elected officials, policymakers, and economic and community developers explore opportunities to attract new industries that would lead to meaningful job creation and vibrant communities, there is room at the table for artists, arts organizations, creative entrepreneurs and others to contribute toward solutions. The Kentucky Arts Council, along with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and ArtPlace America, has done significant work in eastern Kentucky in recent years and that work is not going unnoticed.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland is one of many institutions tracking developments related to the eastern Kentucky economy. Eastern Kentucky is included in its service region. The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland is one of 12 Reserve Banks that, together with the Board of Governors in Washington, D.C., comprise the Federal Reserve System. In addition to its role as the central bank of the United States, the Fed works to support and sustain communities. It conducts research on a wide variety of matters — among them monetary policy, banking supervision and community development — with the aim of delivering answers and advancing conversations. The research can and does impact the region the Bank serves, the national economy and the banking industry in revealing answers regarding inflation and unemployment, among many monetary matters.

The Cleveland Fed is currently publishing a series of articles in its “Forefront” magazine about the transition economy in eastern Kentucky. These articles, in addition to case studies, will be collected and published in print. The most recent article focused on the impact of creative placemaking and arts initiatives taking place right now in the eastern region and the three organizations – again, the arts council, NEA, and ArtPlace – that are involved in the work.

All Kentuckians have a stake in the economic and community welfare of any region or major industry of the state. This is especially true of the coal industry that for decades has benefited the entire Commonwealth by generating significant tax revenue and providing jobs with good wages for Kentuckians who make their homes in the regions where coal is mined – both eastern and western Kentucky.

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Kentucky coal production and employment from 1927-2015. Source: Kentucky Coal Facts, 15th edition, prepared by the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, the Department for Energy Development and Independence and the Kentucky Coal Association, Aug. 28, 2015.

According to the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet Kentucky Quarterly Coal Report, employment at coal mines in Kentucky was reduced in the year 2015 by 27.7 percent or 3,218 workers. Reductions in employment include layoffs, furloughs and the temporary idling of coal mines. Unfortunately, the trend continues into 2016. Preliminary data from the 2016 first quarter report showed coal mines further reduced on-site employment by 1,501 workers, or 17.9 percent of their workforce. As of April 1, 2016, an estimated 6,900 people were employed at Kentucky coal mines, which is the lowest level recorded since 1898 when there were an average of 6,399 coal miners.


Can the arts or placemaking initiatives alone solve the issues facing our mining regions or our state? No, to say so would be foolish. But arts and creativity can most definitely be a valuable tool to use to address the issues. There’s plenty of research to back that statement including Kentucky-specific data and case studies released in the arts council’s Kentucky Creative Industry Report.

CIR coverInformation in the report supports the ideas that arts and culture are vital to community and economic development and invigoration. According to the report, the creative industry thrives in the areas of Kentucky where it is found and growth is inevitable if support is given to those who work in the industry. In 2013, the creative industry and its supply chains employed 108,500 people and accounted for $1.9 billion in earnings. The top needs of artists and creative entrepreneurs working in the industry mainly fall under the category of business training, according to a survey conducted for the report. Therefore, as the state arts agency, the arts council truly is the agency in the Commonwealth that is properly situated to address these issues. The arts council wants to do its part to support and grow the creative industry and the state has multiple resources to do so. We’re working hard to make connections for artists and creative entrepreneurs to put them in touch with the vast array of technical assistance providers in the state who can assist them directly.

The Kentucky Arts Council has initiated several projects in eastern Kentucky in the last few years to assist in efforts to diversify the economy and generate community development and will continue to do so. Those projects include:

  • A placemaking conference in Pikeville the day following the inaugural Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) Summit.
  • Partnership with MACED and Hazard Community and Technical College to offer Kentucky’s first Etsy Craft Entrepreneurship Program to residents in the Promise Zone and surrounding area. (Etsy is a global online marketplace for handmade goods.)
  • Partnerships with entities in Johnson, Bell and Rowan counties to offer workshops to help artists and craftspeople get started selling on Etsy.
  • Partnership with MACED, Kentucky Highlands Innovation Center, and Berea Tourism to offer the Kauffman Foundation’s FasTrac NewVenture and GrowthVenture small business development courses that graduated 25 participants.
  • Awarding five $8,000 Arts Access Assistance grants to counties in the Appalachian Regional Commission service area to develop arts programming and projects.
  • Work with communities that have received National Endowment for the Arts Our Town Grants and those who have received funding from ArtPlace America.
  • Responding to requests for presentations, training, technical assistance and general consultations and information about the arts council for communities and individuals, including elected officials, who want to explore how arts and culture can be an economic driver in the region.

It’s always a compliment to be recognized by an institution such as the Federal Reserve. We’re excited to see creative placemaking and the arts considered by the Fed as an important component of community and economic development and an agent for progress and growth in eastern Kentucky. This recognition reinforces and lends credence to the arts council’s work and mission, and further assists us in fostering partnerships with sectors that might not be familiar with the array of positive outcomes associated with the creative industry.

You can read the first two “Forefront” articles on the Fed’s website. The first article, by Matt Klesta, examines the local impact on the decline in coal in eastern Kentucky. The second article, by Bonnie Blankenship, examines the changing economy and the role the arts and creative placemaking are playing in diversification efforts there. For more information about the Fed, visit

Emily B. Moses
Creative Industry Manager

Categories: Other

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