Five ways to let off steam for National Arts and Humanities Month

Recent history has been trying for people who love the arts, and it has been gut-wrenching for those who have made the arts their life’s work. New economic realities and dwindling public support have made us all a little harried, haggard and even a little depressed. And sometimes enough is simply enough. It’s time to take a break and celebrate our impact and victories before we all burn out. It is October, National Arts and Humanities Month. Think of it as a month-long Friday night. You can stop the white-knuckle vigilance and have a good time. Yes, you have to go back to work on Monday (November), but for now—just like the O’Jays—we are living for the weekend. Here are five ways to unwind.
Focus” on the season

Don’t forget to stop and smell the pumpkins. This is a beautiful time of year, and there are plenty of artful things all around us courtesy of nature. Take a day trip and capture all that the season has to offer. Kudzu, Hazard Community and Technical College’s, literary magazine wants your fall photos from autumn in Appalachia. The top photo will make the cover, and the winner will receive $25. Contact scott.lucero@kctcs.edu for more information.

Use your talent for another great cause 

When you win your prize for top photo, you can donate your $25 to breast cancer research or awareness, as October is also National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM). You’ve worked all year to be a great advocate for the arts; take some time to use your talent for another great cause. You can find local events here.

Take a class or workshop 

Here’s an idea! You’re an artsy person, so go “do” some art. Choose an art genre you don’t feel skilled in and explore it. You can look around in your own backyard, but I can name a few places in my neck of the woods that offer Saturday classes. TheUniversity of Kentucky Fine Arts Institute offers non-credit art classes for adults. There are still some workshops in drawing, painting and molding and casting left on their fall schedule. The Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning offers topics such Writing Your Life, Writing Narrative and Prose Poems and Public Speaking for Writers.

If you want to learn about the “business” of being an artist, join the arts council for three arts conferences in Lexington, Eddyville and Somerset. 

Get involved in a project 

If you’re ready to submerge instead just get your feet wet, you can use this month as a catalyst for submitting to a project. The Art House Co-op has been doing Sketchbook projects for several years now. To take part, you sign up, pick a theme and send $25 (another good use for your winnings). They will then send you a high quality journal to sketch on that theme for a few months. Send it back by the deadline, and your book along with thousands of other sketchbooks will be exhibited at galleries and museums on a world tour. All books will then retire to the permanent, public collection of The Brooklyn Art Library.

Tell Everyone What You’re Doing 

If you represent an arts organization—and you are doing  programming that celebrates the season—post an entry on Americans for the Arts’ National Arts and Humanities Month Calendar.

Lastly, if you do nothing else this month (after all, it is your break), make sure you celebrate and shout your successes from the rooftops. If you don’t, no one else will either! Join us as we shout the successes of nine recipients of the Kentucky Governor’s Awards in the Arts on Oct. 20, 2011, in the Capitol Rotunda.

See you back at work in November!

Sarah Schmitt, arts access director

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