Since the release of the Kentucky Arts Council’s Kentucky Creative Industry Report in late 2014, we have been working hard to address recommendations and priorities identified in the report to support and grow the creative industry in Kentucky.
Why? The report gave us great insight into the needs of Kentucky artists, creative businesses and entrepreneurs who work within the segments of the industry. When I say segments, I’m referring to visual arts, which includes craft artists; performing arts; design; and media, which includes communications, advertising and the literary arts.
One of the first things we did was prioritize how we would address these needs. Identified within the top 10 needs for resources were:
- Computer/web/technology assistance
- Marketing assistance
- Professional development
- Opportunities to network with other artists
- Information on employment opportunities
- Grants or loans
- Places to sell, exhibit or perform
- Publicity/coverage in the media
A major focus of the arts council has always been to provide tools, resources and information for the state’s artists and creative entrepreneurs to help them find new pathways to success. When we looked at these needs collectively, we realize they fall, in some form or fashion, under one heading – business training.
Since the release of our report, the arts council has been fortunate to have forged new partnerships with people and organizations across the state. I have begun referring to these folks as “the UN-usual suspects.” One of the most interesting relationships we have right now is with the good people at Mountain Association for Community Economic Development and, my new favorite Kentuckian, Bill Schutters. Bill wears many hats in the entrepreneurial and business communities and currently is working in the eastern part of the state providing services. He’s collaborating with us on this training through his position as director of the Kentucky Highlands Innovation Center at the office of the Kentucky Innovation Network – London. Bill has a strong background working with artists and arts entrepreneurs, and we’re thrilled to have him on board.
Through a series of conversations, we – and let me add here that “we” includes the ever-innovative women at the office of Berea Tourism – decided to form a partnership to offer business training directly to those who work in the creative industry. The curriculum we’re using is the Kauffman Foundation’s FastTrac business program which, for more than 20 years, has provided aspiring and established entrepreneurs with the information, framework, resources and peer networks they need to successfully start and grow companies.
There are two tracks that will run concurrently in this series. There is FastTrac NewVenture – for creative businesses up to two years in operation and those just thinking about starting their creative business. The other is FastTrac GrowthVenture, for creative entrepreneurs who have been in operation three or more years. The trainings together will create a new learning network for Kentucky artists and creative entrepreneurs that will continue to be beneficial long after these trainings have finished.
If you are interested in joining us for this amazing training series, you can attend one of the workshop sessions that will give you an overview of what will be covered in the full training. You’ll also be able to apply for scholarships. The class is valued at $325, but investments from the sponsoring partners make scholarships available for participants to attend the complete series for $20. Find all of the details about the workshops on our website, where you can also register to attend.
Finally, if your agency or organization is interested in partnering with the arts council to address specific needs of your local creative industry, let’s get together and talk! We are dedicated to supporting and growing the creative industry in all areas of Kentucky. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call me toll-free at 888-833-2787, ext. 472. I hope to hear from you.
Emily B. Moses
Creative Industry Manager