Posts Tagged With: Kentucky

Give a Gift Ky staff picks

We’re lucky enough to live in a state steeped in tradition, where high-quality art and craftsmanship is right at our fingertips. The holidays are the perfect time to commemorate those traditions and incorporate them into our celebrations. Throughout the month of December, we, at the Kentucky Arts Council, have been compiling lists of gifts, décor and events to help everyone create and continue traditions centered around artisans throughout the state to help you do just that.

On our website are many gift giving guides that include categories such as the gift of performance, holiday décor, and local music (just to name a few). You can check out the entire list on the Give a Gift Kentucky website.

On our social media pages you’ll find suggestions hand-picked by the arts council staff, which includes some of our favorite pieces by Kentucky artisans. Everything from paintings and jewelry to books and music are included.

Below is a slideshow with each piece, including the staff member who chose it:

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If you would like to see a personal write-up by each staff member on why they chose each piece, visit our Facebook or Pinterest pages.

We encourage you to share gifts you gave or received this season by posting them on our social media pages and using hashtag #giveagiftky.

If you still weren’t able to find the perfect gift for the hard-to-buy-for person in your family, check our directories page.

Megan Williamson Fields, communication assistant

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O (Kentucky Crafted) Christmas tree!

Each Christmas tree is special. There’s so much love shared around it. They help light up the season and put an extra twinkle in our eyes.

When I think of Christmas trees, I’m reminded by the one my family would put up year after year, adorned with what seemed like hundreds of ornaments. See, my mom is a teacher in southern Kentucky, and receives dozens of ornaments before each Christmas break. No branch is without a treasure from a past student. It seems like she kept every single one of them and they all carry a special message, picture or memory. We would always put up the tree while Elvis, Nat King Cole or Amy Grant serenaded us in the background. We would tell crazy stories, re-ignited by each ornament, of my mother’s tenure, like the time a kid came to school with a living, breathing bat in his backpack. Yeah. That happened.

One of my favorite things about Christmas trees is they hold different meaning for every family. Hopefully, each ornament is as unique and memorable as some of the stories shared around it.

I also remember having the privilege of putting my own ornament on the tree each year. The ornament was of Gus, the goofy mouse from Disney’s Cinderella. It was such an honor for me, especially being somewhat shy and suffering severely from what can only be described as middle child syndrome.

Gus

Everyone say hi to Gus.

We have a wonderfully witty blog series here at the Kentucky Arts Council by the talented Sarah Schmitt called Good Food Deserves Better. She talks about serving food on better-than-average dinnerware like Kentucky Crafted items for the kitchen and dining room. Your Christmas tree deserves better than generic pieces many of us buy on impulse, usually because they’re marked down. Your tree is a centerpiece for Christmastime and the season’s traditions.

To help you out, below are just some handcrafted ornaments from here in Kentucky. I urge you to start your own traditions with them. For instance, you could buy one each year and give it to a specific person, like the matriarch of the family, or a new member you’d like to welcome. You could even do an annual ornament exchange, like a Secret Santa where everyone buys an ornament. Make these new traditions your own.

Gourdament from SnP CraftsReImagined ornamentJudyGeagley owl ornament

There’s more where those came from…literally. We have a directory for holiday decor on our Give a Gift Kentucky holiday décor site, which includes more ornaments to start (or continue) your collection. I challenge ya’ll to find some one-of-a-kind ornaments made in Kentucky this Christmas and to carry on that tradition year after year, filling up each and every branch on your tree.

I would love to see what you find! If you don’t mind, post a picture of you and your handcrafted ornaments new and old on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest and tag us in the picture. Don’t forget to use #giveagiftky. Your pictures would absolutely make our hearts sparkle here at the Arts Council.

Megan Williamson Fields, communications assistant

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Don’t duke it out for discounts

You may have seen the countless memes about trampling others for deals merely hours after saying thanks for what we already have.
black-friday-meme

Yes, Black Friday can become an addiction. Yes, the deals are alluring. I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to spend hours with my aunt, whom I rarely see, in the wee minutes of the morning dressed in tactical gear on a hunt for the greatest deal of all time. Trust me. I’ve hidden on Kmart shelves, perched like a jungle cat, about to pounce on the next person that cuts me in line. I don’t care if it is my Kindergarten teacher.

Now that I’ve seen the light of shopping small, however, I’m reminded of the Cars.com commercials where the buyers miss the drama in car-buying, so the salesmen create it for them. Let me lead you down the path of not just shopping small, but shopping simple. Sit back, take your time, sip some coffee from a Main Street store. Relax.

In my recent quest to become the ultimate shopping small guru, I’ve heard many an excuse as to why it just can’t be done. Excuse me, while I scream into a pillow.

Excuse #1:
“It takes too much time”
You spend hours around a table after eating your turkey, searching, documenting, planning and mapping your quest for the best discounts, right? So why can’t you visit one or two stores that may be a few miles away? What if we spent that much time and effort thanking the people and small business owners of our communities?

That brings me to the next excuse I often hear.

Excuse #2:
“There aren’t any stores near me”
Don’t give me that. But, for your sake, let’s say there really aren’t. There are way too many online options nowadays. To start, take a look at our Pinterest page and see what you like. There’s links to order from artists on our pins. If you find an artist you like, email them, visit their Etsy sites. It’s way simpler than getting in a punching match with a soccer mom on Black Friday for the last 5 percent off stuffed bear at a mega-chain.
Below is a handy directory to help you find some small businesses near you.
Excuse2
Season’s Greetings at Kentucky Crafted Stores and Galleries
Make your shopping fun by attending special events at retailers known for carrying gifts handmade in Kentucky.

Excuse #3:
“Black Friday is a family tradition”
As I said before, much fun and memorable experiences were had back in my Black Friday dealin’ days. However, there are exceptional happenings across Kentucky for Small Business Saturday (and on into January) that the entire family can enjoy. Several retailers are hosting special events and promotions throughout the holiday season throughout our state. Here’s some new traditions for ya’ll:
excuse 3
Artists’ Open Studios and Holiday Shows

Kentucky artists adjudicated into Kentucky Arts Council programs will be hosting art tours and open studios as well as participating in exhibits and shows during the holiday season.
special events at artisan center
Special Events at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea
In addition to being a cornucopia for gifts handmade in Kentucky, the Artisan Center will have a busy schedule of artist demonstrations, book signings and musical performances throughout the season.
performances
Celebrating the Season in Performance
Taking a break from the shopping holidaze might be the perfect therapy for getting in the spirit of the season. Check out this schedule of performances by Performing Arts Directory artists and at Kentucky Arts Partners performing arts venues.

Excuse #4:
“Items at small businesses cost too much”
Use your time wisely this week. Start calling retailers (listed above) and ask about their holiday and Small Business Saturday specials. Chances are they’ll cut ya a deal. You just have to search them out, much like you would in a sales paper. Below is another way we’ve laid out a gift giving shopping guide to get you started.
gifts
Great Gift Ideas
Paintings, prints, books and craft by distinguished Kentucky artists who have received the Kentucky Arts Council’s Al Smith Individual Artist Fellowship Award make the perfect gift for the art lover on your list.

Remember, if when you find timeless treasures from a small shop, post it to Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, and use #giveagiftky to show us what you found. Chances are we’ll re-post on our social networking sites.

Megan Williamson Fields, communications assistant

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Your input: We need it!

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If you’re a regular reader of this blog, then we know you like to stay up to date and informed about what’s going on in the arts in Kentucky. We have a couple of opportunities for you to be involved with large projects we are currently working on. Your participation will be of tremendous help to the Kentucky Arts Council. In fact, you’ll be helping to shape the future of the arts in Kentucky!

 Right now, we have two online surveys from which we are seeking public input. One is for artists – and we mean that in the broadest sense – who make all or part of their income through their artwork. The other is for the general public, essentially anyone who cares about the arts in their community and in our state.

 The survey for artists will be used to gather data for our Creative Industry study. That study should be available in early October and will give a snapshot of the artists and businesses that collectively comprise the Commonwealth’s creative industry. One person who takes this survey will win $100! So don’t delay! When you’re finished, please send the survey to other artists in Kentucky who you think would be willing to help us out in collecting our data.

 We’ve received great feedback so far from Kentucky’s artists. We’d love to see all 120 counties included. Right now we still need responses from artists in the following counties: Ballard, Bell, Breathitt, Carlisle, Carroll, Clinton, Crittenden, Fulton, Gallatin, Grant, Graves, Grayson, Green, Hancock, Harlan, Harrison, Hart, Henry, Hickman, Lee, Lincoln, Livingston, Magoffin, Marshall, Martin, McCreary, Meade, Menifee, Monroe, Morgan, Muhlenburg, Owen, Owsley, Perry, Powell, Robertson, Russell, Taylor, Todd, Trigg, Trimble, Union, Wayne and Webster.

 Take the Creative Industry study survey for artists here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/KY_Artists_and_Creative_Freelancers.

 The general public survey will be used to gather feedback for the arts council’s strategic plan. Our upcoming strategic plan, which will be submitted to the National Endowment for the Arts later this year, will guide our work through the next six years. We want to know how you would like to see the arts take shape in Kentucky during that time period. Again, we ask that you share this survey with as many people as possible so that we can gather feedback from all areas of the state.

 Take strategic plan survey for the general public here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/KAC-StrategicPlan.

 Have questions? Contact us at kyarts@ky.gov and let us know how we can help.

 Emily B. Moses, communications director

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Five baby steps to starting an arts business

For artists trying to turn their craft into a profitable business, the beginning steps can seem daunting.  Whether you’re just looking to share your work, or actually trying to make a living off of it, there are a few things that are universal. In celebration of National Small Business Week, May 12-16, we’ve come up with five baby steps to get your arts business off the ground.

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 1. Name your business

First, if you’re really new at this, you need to name your business.  While funny or  interesting        names might be unique, naming your business something offbeat might  send you into murky   waters with trademark and copyright issues.To avoid the  mess, find a way to incorporate your own  name into the business name. This will  ensure the name’s not already taken, and will help people  easily recognize you as  the face or artist behind the project.

 2. Establish a business email

Creating a separate business email ensures that one, people will be able to contact your business,   and two, their emails won’t be lost in your general junk folders. The email domain should include your business name and should be used for business communications only. The last thing you want is to lose customers because you didn’t see their email among the 50 others in your inbox.

3. Build a Facebook page

Creating a second Facebook page to use specifically for your business will help give credibility to your work. Much like your new email, a new Facebook page will give customers and friends a direct way to connect with you about your work without having to fight through other personal posts or family pictures. This separate page will also help you establish a professional identity for your brand. Fill your new page with examples, pricing and information about your upcoming events and exhibits.

4. Open a checking account

Trust us on this one. Opening a business checking account will save you from an enormous headache come tax season. Distancing your personal money from your business account will also help you keep a clearer picture of the expenses and income for your new business.

5. Start a website

Starting a website sounds scarier than it is. With services like WordPress or Blogger, designing and managing a website is actually fairly simple these days.  By creating your own page, you can make it easier for people to find your work and, more importantly, share your work.  The site can also serve as a central hub for information regarding your business. Here, you can list your new business email, links to your social media accounts and a little more of your background and story as an artist.

With small steps, creating an arts business becomes less daunting and more fun. Keep an eye out for posts throughout the summer for more artist tips and ways to build your blooming business.

Alex Newby, Communications Assistant

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