Posts Tagged With: economic impact

Celebrating the Role of the Arts in 2014

Arts Day in Kentucky, as proclaimed by Gov. Steve Beshear, saw a huge turnout on Jan. 28 in the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort. Artists, representatives of arts organizations, supporters of the arts, members of the Kentucky General Assembly and the general public gathered for an afternoon reception to celebrate the many facets of the arts in the Commonwealth.

Kentucky Arts Partner organizations gathered in the morning at the Capitol Annex to have photos taken with their legislators and to receive their second round of funding from the arts council.

Afternoon participants were treated to live music and artist demonstrations from performers and artists in the arts council’s Performing Arts Directory and Kentucky Crafted program.

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In addition, the arts council officially announced its undertaking of a statewide Creative Industry Study that will take place in the coming year. For more information about the study, read the arts council’s press release.

Thanks to everyone who turned out to celebrate the arts on Arts Day in Kentucky. And a big thank you to the Kentucky General Assembly and Gov. Beshear for their continued support of the arts.

Emily Moses, Communications Director

Follow up: Hannah Ensign-George, a Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft intern from Centre College included a section about the value of Arts Day in her internship summary.

Categories: Arts Advocacy | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Holiday shopping in My Town, Kentucky, USA

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and good ‘ol Saint Nick is starting to take notice of who is being naughty and who is being nice.

One way of being really nice would be to pick up some “unforgettably you,” smile-making stocking stuffers or a few heart-warming presents you could only feel good about putting under the tree.

Imagine its Christmas Day.

It’s Christmas Day; as you stand there in the living room, seeing the tree sparkling, decorated and aglow. The lights are just right; you hear the music, soft and low, swaying in the background, reminding you of what life’s really all about — family, and love, and sharing and thankfulness.

Then you hear a name being called, pulling you back, ever so gently, into the Christmas picture. It’s the name of your loved one being called, the one for whom you bought a present. Your loved one moves close to the tree, hands out, heart open.

Flashing back to a few weeks ago, you thought about buying an online gift from one of those way-to-famous, get-it-all-here, one-stop shops (it fits all sizes, anyway) places. Then, briefly, only briefly, before you were overcome with feelings you couldn’t stand, you thought about just adding one of those pre-paid gift cards to your purchase at the grocery store. But, you didn’t want to be that person, the person who gave that gift.

And now that the present is opened, the smiles so bright — it would be absurd to ask (how could anyone not know), as so many have, and will ask again — “do you like it?” Really?

You shopped local this time, taking a path that made all the difference.

You did your shopping in Hometown, Kentucky, USA.

With all the promise of so much joy, for so many people, why wouldn’t everyone shop locally?

There are only two answers: Time and money. Right?

And when we get right down to brass tacks, it’s just money. If you are like most, chances are you think it’s just more expensive to buy locally. And maybe it is, but not always. I’m constantly amazed at what great deals I can get at local shops.

But, even if it were always more expensive, would it be worth a spending a couple of extra bucks for that Kodak moment? How much is a Hallmark Christmas worth? Is it priceless?

I don’t know. I’m not a rich guy, myself, but I’d pay a lot to see my wife smile on Christmas morning, because I bought her a Kentucky crafted present. It’s like one of my dear friends here at the Arts Council explained to me, “I don’t have the finances to only shop locally, but I do all that I can.” That makes sense.

The number one reason to shop locally is because it will make your loved ones happy, on Christmas day and throughout the year.

Many of those gifts, bought from mega corporations whose names begin with A to W on down the line to Z, have a shelf life somewhere between a couple days, a week, or perhaps a month, at most. Then, it’s off to the next shiny toy — at least that is my experience with a lot of the gifts I get.

It’s the rare ones: a precious work of art, a moving piece of music recorded by a regional band, furniture, food, drink or other gifts of joy, which I treasure throughout the year. What would you treasure, I wonder, that can only be got locally?

Shop local; there are other good reasons. Shopping locally supports the community, keeps money in your hometown, goes to pay wages of our neighbors and artisans (writers, crafters, painters, musicians, and many other wonderful people we could not live without) who work in our community.

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The shop local gifts are sure to be unique, showing just how much you love someone. The crowds are smaller, the shop keepers and other shoppers are by far and away, much friendlier.

Another thing I know that doesn’t occur to us too much: shop keepers are people too.

If you didn’t think shop keepers are people too, you’re not to blame. It’s hard to think of those companies as people, because they’re not. But local shop owners are people, who often struggle to make a living, in a world gone corporate and online, schlepping stuff made somewhere far away.

This Christmas you can bless your loved ones and yourself by buying a My Hometown, Kentucky gift. Your purchase will also bless your local shop owner. Think of buying your hometown gift as your little present to those who do so much to make your community the wonderful, livable place it is.

Buying locally means buying two gifts (one for your loved one and one for the shop owner). You can’t beat a “buy one, get one” deal in terms of value.

Categories: Arts Advocacy | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

2013 Governor’s Awards in the Arts: Oakley and Eva Farris

This is the ninth and final entry in our 2013 Governor’s Awards in the Arts blog series. I hope you have enjoyed reading these interviews as much as I enjoyed conducting them. Thank you for your shares, comments, re-blogs, Tweets and Facebook posts. Each of the nine recipients — whether a business, arts organization or individual — offers a unique perspective on participating in the arts in Kentucky. I am proud to have met each and every one of the individuals who will receive awards during today’s ceremony.

Our final interview is with the 2013 Governor’s Awards in the Arts Milner Award recipients. You’ll notice the plural there as this year’s recipients are a married couple, Oakley and Eva Farris of Covington.

The Milner Award is considered the most prestigious of the nine Governor’s Awards. It was established in 1977 in honor of B. Hudson Milner, a Louisville utility executive and civic leader, whose contributions to the arts in Kentucky remain important to this day. The Milner Award is presented to Kentucky residents or organizations located in Kentucky for outstanding philanthropic, artistic or other contributions to the arts.

I have to tell you, sitting down with the Farrises made for a delightful afternoon. Oakley and Eva Farris spent their lives together as business partners. Mr. Farris is a native of Kentucky. Mrs. Farris is from Cuba. They met in Florida and married thereafter. I asked how long they had been together. Mr. Farris would only say, “We’ve been married several years. Honestly, we have been.”

Mr. Farris spent his professional life as a traveling salesman — one who never took up driving, I might add. Mrs. Farris, who has a degree in business, supported Mr. Farris as his partner every step of the way. “She gives me a suggestion and I jump,” he said of their professional life together.

Schools, arts organizations, civic organizations, museums and libraries are just a few of the types of institutions supported by the Farrises. They have generously invested in Northern Kentucky University, The Carnegie Center for the Visual and Performing Arts, and the Behringer-Crawford Museum, to name a few. And isn’t “invested” an interesting way to describe giving? I thought so, too. You’ll not have to read far to learn why.

Again, congratulations to all nine recipients of the 2013 Governor’s Awards in the Arts. The awards will be televised on KET and KETKY in the coming month. You can find a schedule at the bottom of this post.

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How did you come to be philanthropists for the arts?

Oakley Farris: We’re not philanthropists. Period. We don’t give money away. We invest in our community, and we expect a return. In my mind’s eye that word denotes some big shot giving his money away and that’s not for us.

Tell me about your support for the arts.

Oakley Farris: How do you describe art? I dare say the majority of people would think of art like behind you, that beautiful picture. But you know, art comes in many forms. Art can be a book. It can be a good-looking woman with beautiful lines. Or a beat up Coca-Cola bottle or a can. It’s true. That’s part of art. And I’ve said for years art is an integral part of our education system. Unfortunately art has been taken out of many of our schools. Correct me if I’m wrong. Bad news. Bad news.

Why do you personally feel making gifts to the arts is important?

Eva Farris: I think it’s very important, especially, it’s part of living. You don’t just need material things. You have to look farther. Especially kids, so they grow with some sense of vision. You see the difference in these children when they draw, you see the art in there, the feeling there just to find it, promote it. It’s very important.

Is education the most important thing for you to invest in?

Oakley Farris: I tell you what, I was such a lousy student. It was the grace of God I got that diploma. It’s just like yesterday, I go up to get the diploma, and the principal was a big tall gentleman. He looked down at me, and I could read his mind, “How did you get up here?” It’s extremely important to me. Personally, I feel like our entire nation is being dumbed down. There are jobs in this country they can’t fill, because they don’t have the citizens well-educated enough to fill those jobs. And that all has to do with art when you think about it.

Eva Farris: It makes character in a person, too. …If you don’t have art in an education, for me it’s worthless. It produces more imagination.

Oakley Farris: Art unleashes the brain. It stimulates the brain.

Viewing schedule for the 2013 Governor’s Awards in the Arts (all times Eastern)

KET Sunday, Nov. 3 – 2 p.m.

KET Monday, Nov. 4 – 4 a.m.

KETKY Sunday, Nov. 3 – 11 a.m., 7 p.m., midnight

KETKY Monday, Nov. 4, 7 a.m., 11 p.m.

KETKY Friday, Nov. 8 – 6 a.m., 9 p.m.

KETKY Saturday, Nov. 9 – 8 a.m.

KETKY Wednesday, Nov. 20 – 2 p.m. EST

KETKY Monday, Nov. 25 – 4 p.m.

KETKY Thursday, Dec. 5 – 1 a.m.

Emily B. Moses, communications director

Categories: Arts Advocacy | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

2013 Governor’s Awards in the Arts: Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea

If you’ve never visited the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea, take my advice: Finish reading this blog post, then hop in your car and head on over. You will like what you find.

The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea has been an economic oasis for Kentucky arts businesses of all sizes since it opened its doors in 2003. Ten years later, the artisan center now introduces travelers up and down the I-75 corridor to the wonderful world of Kentucky artists, musicians, writers and food producers. The artisan center also provides a unique experience for those of us who call Kentucky home.

The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea is the 2013 Governor’s Awards in the Arts Government Award recipient. I felt very fortunate to spend some time with Victoria Faoro, the center’s executive director since the day it opened its doors.

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For people who have never visited before, describe the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea.

The Kentucky Artisan Center is really a taste of Kentucky. It’s meant to be a gateway to the entire state, so it includes all Kentucky-made products. We have visual arts, crafts, 2-dimensional art, music, books, and specialty food products. What’s unusual about the artisan center is it does have a dual focus. It’s meant to introduce people to the arts, but also we send people to other places in the state, so we’re promoting travel in Kentucky as well.

We offer a café that serves many Kentucky specialties. We offer traveler services. We are, in fact, the only mid-state rest area on I-75. The artisan center is a place you can get a feel for the quality experiences you can have in Kentucky, and we provide you with information to explore those experiences further.

How many Kentucky artists and artisan businesses are represented in the artisan center?

We work directly with more than 700 artists all across state. We also buy works from musicians and writers that we purchase through distributers, so we work with even more Kentucky artists that way.

We try to work with each business at the level they are on and provide the kind of support they need, that will be helpful for them. We’re really willing to work with them. We feel their success in business is the most important thing.

We work with them on packaging. We’ll work with them on things like quantities. We’ll work with them on price points and presentation that will help them and, often I think, it helps them in other places too.

How is the assistance you provide to artists beneficial to them?

A lot of times it can help them avoid some costly mistakes. If an artist is testing a new item they have a chance to try it in a small way, with someone who is not going to stop carrying them if it doesn’t work out. A lot of times we’re the first wholesale customer a Kentucky artist will work with. It gives them a little experience before they go to their first wholesale market or show.

The artisan center offers Kentucky artists an easy stepping stone to working with other wholesalers.

How is the artisan center different from other state government agencies?

The first thing I would say is, in order to balance our budget, we have to generate over 70 percent of that through sales. Conducting business efficiently and effectively is extremely important, especially when you realize the travel service section doesn’t earn any revenue.

I think we’re unusual in the fact that the majority of our space is public and our staff is working seven days a week, nine hours a day with the public. It’s also probably unusual for a state agency with a budget this size to be working with as many vendors as we are.

Can you talk about how the artisan center is important to introducing people to Kentucky and to our artists?

As the board and the planning groups were thinking about the center, they began to envision it as a billboard on the interstate. They really thought of the front of the building, what it would look like, and worked to make it something that would make people want to get off the interstate.

The limestone in the building is Kentucky limestone. The stonemasons who laid it were all Kentucky stonemasons. I sort of feel like from the minute a person sees the building and comes inside, they’re seeing Kentucky as a place of quality. I think the main thing we can do is give people the sense that Kentucky has quality businesses and quality experiences. When people come to the center they’re expecting a typical rest stop and I think they’re very surprised and happy when they find the center full of all kinds of art. We do try to have a range of price points such that any person coming in could afford to get something if they wanted to. We use the products in fun ways so people can enjoy the art.

A lot of times we have people say, “I didn’t have any idea Kentucky had these things or these places to visit. I’m going to plan more time here for my next visit.” For us, that’s a measure of success if people want to come back and spend more time in Kentucky.

Why is it important for the artisan center, as part of state government, to support artists economically, to provide economic opportunities for our artists; especially in conserving our arts and cultural heritage?

Kentucky is very fortunate to have a very vital and flourishing artist population. There are many arts still being made in Kentucky that just aren’t in other places. They’ve died out totally. During difficult economic times, a lot of artists were finding it difficult to continue making their art. Many artists found themselves having to consider quitting altogether because they didn’t have any assurances of income. One of the things we can provide as a center that has the visitation we have is some assurance of continued sales over a period of time. Many artists have said that, the fact that we order from them several times a year and we can be counted on to pay for our orders in a prompt way enables them to purchase the materials they need to continue making their art. We just think the arts are really important, not just for visitors, but for the people in the communities where these artists live. The quality of life is just better everywhere if our artists can continue to make work. We see it in people who come here. There’s something really wonderful about being able to purchase and make a part of your life something that’s connected with a community or an individual.

Emily B. Moses, communications director

Categories: Visual Arts | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

2013 Governor’s Awards in the Arts: International Bluegrass Music Museum

When I went to interview Gabrielle Gray, executive director of the International Bluegrass Music Museum, I had not visited Owensboro, Ky., for at least 20 years. Wow, was I blown away. I can tell you honestly that if I were looking for a place to make a new home at this point in time, I would give serious consideration to Owensboro. The city is alive with the arts. Much of this links back to the enthusiasm for bluegrass music that the museum has created through its numerous programs since it opened its doors in 1991.

Bluegrass has become part of the city’s brand, and its citizens embrace the genre as part of their culture. The International Bluegrass Music Museum will receive this year’s Governor’s Awards in the Arts Community Arts Award. Read excerpts of my interview with Gabrielle below to find out more about what’s happening in Owensboro.

Tell me about the programming you provide in the community.

Just to give you an example, ROMP (IBMM’s annual bluegrass festival) has grown to 20,000 visitors a year, which is a very nice-sized festival. We just had our 10th anniversary. The first one was in 2004. It was held in Peter English Park down the river. We had Earl Scruggs, Ricky Skaggs, Doc Watson, Sam Bush. It was a great event, but it only drew a few thousand people. That’s how ROMP was for the next seven years in a row; it was an intriguing but small festival. We invited the pioneers of bluegrass to play. Because bluegrass is a pretty new genre as genres go, most of the founders of it, the early practitioners, were still alive when I came here. Now it’s been 10 years, a very vital 10 years in that echelon. So many of them are not alive now. But we have filmed them. First person, in-depth, professional interviews with professional interviewers; we’ve done 268 of these. We’re developing them each into an individual documentary. We’ve got the history. Lock stock and barrel, we have captured it. There is no music genre in America that has been able to do that except bluegrass. So it’s a really astonishing archive, and it really tells the story, especially of the southeastern quadrant of the United States, but also all over the country.

The bluegrass in the schools project is ginormous. We’re in year 11 of that. We’re in all of the elementary schools. In order to preserve and sustain bluegrass music, and to grow it here in the home state — this is Kentucky’s official state music and it’s this area’s indigenous music — in order to preserve that culture and further it and put it to work for us both educationally and in tourism, you have to grow it. You have to sustain it. Everybody in your community needs to know about it, be aware of it, embrace it and be part of the process. And so, in order to get all that done you have to start at the beginning, start when they’re growing up.

We have this sustained program where we spend eight days in each elementary school. And all of the kids have an instrument — we’ve had to buy hundreds of instruments — so everybody is holding an instrument, the same instrument at the same time. You’ll have a whole sea of violins or fiddles and they’re all learning at the same time. They learn the history of bluegrass, its importance to the state, and then they learn about the fiddle, the mandolin, the banjo and the guitar, those four instruments.

That’s the first thing we do. Then the second thing we do is we hire a national act that performs in every one of these schools. They put on a concert. And that happens every year. The parents are invited and the teachers come and the administrators come and it’s always a very big deal because a band is here in town for two or three weeks. They’re in all of these schools and then do a concert for the general public. So after that, if you want to, if you have been turned on by that and trust me they are, big time, then you can come down here (to the museum) and take lessons on Saturdays. We provide the instruments on loan; you take them home and keep them with you as long as you’re in the music program. These are group music lessons and right now we have 414 students and it’s people of all ages. There’s a tiny tuition. If you don’t have that money, you just write an essay about why you want to take lessons and you’re included for free. It’s gigantic. You can’t believe what it looks like here on a Saturday. It’s a small museum and there are back-to-back people.

What is it about bluegrass music that transcends cultures?

Well, it’s an amalgamation of so many genres to start with. If you look at the Scots-Irish, the Celtic music, the African — I’m a classical musician, I definitely see Vivaldi and Bach in there — it’s black gospel, it’s white gospel, it’s blues, it’s jazz, it’s Cajun. It’s friendly; it doesn’t put on airs. And yet, it is the most virtuosic of all the genres because the musicianship in a premium bluegrass band is higher than, or as high as, you will find anywhere on Earth. Not only are they playing to the top skills of all other musicians, and in most cases far better, they’re also composing on the spot just like jazz. Bluegrass is incredible. But it puts on no airs. That’s why it has become a worldwide genre. It’s like a musical exchange program.

How has the community embraced and supported the museum?

Well, I think what happened is that ROMP turned the lake over, putting the programming in there that was broader than traditional bluegrass and opening it up to more people. One thing we did, anyone who was involved in a college bluegrass program throughout the country was invited to come for free, provided they brought their instrument and jammed, and stayed all three days. So, we were changing the atmosphere of the festival, making it into a jam session of really good musicians from all over. It’s creating a culture and creating a milieu and a place where everybody is comfortable. The festival is green. It’s well organized, the food is excellent. There’s a wonderful arts and crafts fair. We have tremendous arts all over the place.

So when the population of ROMP exploded like it did overnight, the city took notice and said “Wow.” What you’ve been saying to us all along, that this could be like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is to Cleveland, like the Country Music Hall of Fame is to Nashville, this could be an international center. This could be the biggest thing in Kentucky. They saw it.

How has the community supported the museum?

There is bluegrass being played everywhere now. It’s for weddings, it’s for funerals — it’s everywhere you go. It has changed the entire cultural landscape of this community.

The ROMP budget has grown to over a half a million dollars. With the exception of ticket sales and earned income, all of that money comes from support. Think of that. It’s enormous. We have close to $200,000 donated by businesses. Everybody’s coming. We’re in a $10 million capital campaign. We haven’t even gone to the bluegrass community yet. This has all been raised out of Owensboro, $8 million already. That’s gigantic. The city pledged $3 million to the new museum. How many cities do that?

Let’s get down to the grass roots level. Every single music teacher in the city and county and in the parochial school systems here, every single one helps us with the bluegrass in the schools program. We bought a set of instruments for every school. They teach them. They have after-school programs set-up. They’re teaching the kids how to play the instruments; they’re working with us, all of them. They all come and perform at ROMP.

And they’re part of it. That’s the key to everything — inclusivity. Making people part of a project, then it belongs to them. Then its success becomes integral to their being.

Emily B. Moses, communications director

Categories: Performing Arts | Tags: , , , , , , ,

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