Arts Advocacy

Adults behaving like children

This past Thursday, nearly fifty grown men and women from across the Commonwealth met in a gymnasium at the Cabbage Patch Settlement House in Old Louisville. After improvising a fake talk show where the topic was “the shrinking ecosystem of the big foot,” they passed an imaginary ball around a circle while screaming, “whoosh,” “erk” and “bridge.”

I was one of them.

Some might call this kid’s stuff, tom foolery or even nonesense, but these were part of the hands-on, sample activities during the annual ArtsReach seminar. For two days every March, community groups, social service organizations, juvenile facilities, artists, arts organizations and anyone else who wants to bring arts into the lives of underserved people, meet to make connections and learn new ways to meet their goals.

ArtsReach is an innovative two-prong program of the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts in conjunction with the Kentucky Arts Council. The Kentucky Center partners with community groups in Louisville to provide arts experiences for people who might not otherwise have these opportunities. The long-standing Louisville program serves as a model to ArtsReach Kentucky, which fosters several partnerships between community groups and arts organizations statewide. Ashland, Paducah, Hopkinsville, Frankfort, Elizabethtown and Mt. Sterling all have programs, and the list is growing.

These mutually beneficial programs are invaluable to Kentucky communities, as is the network among the entire program’s particpants. This is why get together every March to  share our success stories…and possibly make art from duct tape.

Sarah Schmitt, arts access director

Categories: Arts Advocacy, Arts Organizations, Performing Arts, Visual Arts | Tags: , , , ,

The whole is more than the sum of its dots

102 out of 120 counties.

Yep, you all came. Thank you.

Folks from all across our great Commonwealth joined us in Lexington last weekend to celebrate the 30th year of Kentucky Crafted: The Market. For the first time we posted a map of Kentucky in the hallway to the exhibit hall and asked our guests to indicate where they were from. From the colored dots placed on the map and the notes written in our guest book, we have determined that at least 102 counties, 20 states and four countries were represented. Visitors signed in from Hickman, Ky., in the far western county of Fulton, and Pikeville, in the far eastern corner of the state. We had buyers or guests come from California, Texas, Minnesota, Kansas, Vermont and Rhode Island—among many other states from Washington to Florida—as well as Canada, Ireland and Israel.


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Of course, this is totally non-scientific data. Only a small percentage of the thousands who came to The Market participated in this little exercise. Nonetheless, we are thrilled by the number of people who traveled long distances to support our artists and celebrate the richness of talent we have here in Kentucky. We are also excited that Lexington and the surrounding communities came out in force. Our greatest number of attendees appeared to come from Fayette and 10 nearby counties. One arts council wag remarked that the mound of dots in the central part of the state gave the map a topographical feel.  We particularly want to thank the large number of folks from Jefferson and Oldham Counties who followed The Market from Louisville to Lexington this year.

Unfortunately, the joy of the weekend was marred by the devastating and deadly tornadoes that tore across several sections of the state on Friday. We struggled to regain our enthusiasm Saturday morning when we began to understand the extent of the damage. A pocket of five counties that suffered some of the worst damage and heartache were the only counties in all of eastern Kentucky without a colorful dot on the map. Our hearts go out to the residents in those areas who will continue to deal with unfathomable challenges as they rebuild their lives.

Another pocket of counties along the Tennessee border in south central Kentucky also did not appear to be represented at The Market. We’ll have to brainstorm new ways to reach out to those who live in that line from Simpson County to Clinton County.

Our gift basket winners also hailed from diverse communities in Kentucky. Alice Crews of Elizabethtown in Hardin County southwest of Louisville and Sherrie Stacy of Mouthcard in Pike County each won a lovely gift basket sponsored by the Kentucky Arts Council and the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea. We thank all of you for participating in the drawings, online games, workshops and hands-on activities that we offered at The Market this year.

The mission of the Kentucky Arts Council is “To create opportunities for the people of Kentucky to value, participate in and benefit from the arts.” We take very seriously that we are a state agency serving all of the people of Kentucky, from the Mississippi Delta to the Virginia border. For that reason, we are very proud that we managed to reach so many of you in one fun-filled weekend. Thanks again for your support at The Market!

Sallie Showalter, communications and technology branch manager

Categories: Arts Advocacy, Visual Arts | Tags: ,

Objets d’pArt

“I want to help your cause. I really do. It’s worthy, you’re doing great things, I appreciate your hard work, it takes a special kind of person, etc. But, unless you make it really easy for me, I cannot. I don’t want to get an envelope, write out a check and go to the post office. I will most certainly forget to visit your Paypal site to make a donation. Forget about me volunteering; that is just not an option right now. I have a job and a household to run—a six-month-old baby, a husband, two dogs, many bills, many responsibilities and many others who want and need a piece of my time. Most days I do not have the apparatus to help my number one cause (me) let alone someone else’s.”

Above are my sincere apologies to every worthy organization that couldn’t get time or money out of me recently. I’m really sorry; I truly am. I am wracked with guilt. I should be on the rack! I just can’t find a way to fit it in. So, as you can see, I empathize with everyone who sighs, groans or panics when they receive a call from a Kentucky arts group to help them with advocacy. These are trying times for arts funding and related legislation. Arts enthusiasts all know that we have to do something, but these are also financially trying times in general. And time immemorial has been trying for busy, productive people. So what is the least we can do, and still be of some help to a cause in which we believe?

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You can wear a pin. Seriously—you can simply affix a pin to the lapel of your jacket. Furthermore, you can wear an attractive and tantalizing pin, and when fascinated people ask you about it, you can say, “That’s an interesting story.” You can explain that said pin is a custom, handmade piece by Kentucky Crafted artist Mark Needham and that you wear it because it is de rigueur for those wanting to show solidarity with Kentucky artists and arts groups. “See,” you might say, “It even says ‘art’ right on it.” You can also tell them that they too can have their very own, unique art pin for a mere $40 by contacting That’s $1.34 a day for a month ($1.30 if the month has 31 days).

To find out more about the art pin, go to Dress the pArt! on Kentucky Arts Council’s website.

Sarah Schmitt, arts access director

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

The pound cake recipe: everything is an art and everything is a science

Everything is an art and everything is a science. This is not debatable. Everything that we do in life requires some degree of precision and creativity. Even in the purest examples, like career artists and career scientists, we see evidence of crossover. There is a science to mixing pigments and an art to manual pipetting.

I think this truth is most evident in baking. This endeavor requires a pure one-to-one ratio of art to science. Bakers, pâtissiers, boulangers and others who use ovens and flour to make great things must be one-part chemist and one-part interior decorator. Have you ever eaten a beautiful cupcake that tasted terrible or a tasty pie that fell to pieces on a cardboard plate? Neither is very satisfying.

I recently inherited a set of yellowed recipe cards from my grandmother, called Mimi, who is an artist and scientist in her own kitchen (i.e., studio and laboratory). Among them was a recipe that brought back two distinct memories. When I was about four years old, we visited my grandparents in Paducah at Christmas, and she made several types of cakes and cookies for the holiday. The best thing she made, according to my young palate, was a pound cake. I distinctly remember riding all the way back to Lexington with a pound cake on my lap.

In this photo my papa and I have either just eaten, are in the process of eating or are about to eat some pound cake.

The second memory is from when I was in college and tried to replicate the cake for Christmas. She wrote down the recipe, I bought all of the ingredients, got to work in the kitchen and was devastated by my results. Mimi’s pound cake is light and buttery; mine came out dense with un-dissolved sugar crystals. When I asked her what I did wrong, she said that I “beat it too hard.” I didn’t really remember beating it at all.

As I looked over the recipe, I noticed some key differences from the one she wrote down a few years before. The measurements were in weight (imperial pounds) and not volume (cups)—hence the name pound cake. It didn’t say “bake one hour and 15 minutes”; it said “bake until done.” I just had to scratch my head. The two sides of my brain just don’t communicate this way. I was using art where I should have used science and science where I should have used art.

We call all the people in the Kentucky Crafted Program “artists,” but all of them are also scientists in some way. The most shining example is Melissa Senetar who is the proprietor of PhbeaD. Not only does she hold a doctorate in biochemistry, she also creates beautiful jewelry from naturally expired insects, resin and silver. If art and science got married, her jewelery would be the wedding portrait.

Look at the happy couple.

We can take two things away from this: 1) If I try to make Mimi’s cake again, I’ll have to keep in mind variables and set up a few control groups. I might even have to get a set of Sherwin Williams color samples for “doneness.” 2) When discussing the value of the subjects studied in school, we must remember that the titles of classes are arbitrarily categorized. No subject holds the most value in developing well-rounded, employable individuals, because they simply cannot be separated in “the real world.” Great scientists are creative within their field, and great artists are precise and methodical within their genre.

Sarah Schmitt, arts access director

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Pound Cake

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

The squeaky wheel gets the grease

We all have an opinion about what the government should be doing. We’re willing to share those opinions in line at the grocery store, while getting a hair cut, with people who always disagree with us and with bored family members. But how often are we willing to share those opinions when they actually matter and will be taken into consideration?

People who are passionate about the economic impact of the arts have a rare opportunity in the next few weeks. You can share your opinions with someone who will actually listen! Kentucky officials have hired the Arkansas consulting firm Boyette Strategic Advisors to determine how the Commonwealth can attract businesses and jobs using existing assets. The plan called “Kentucky’s Unbridled Future,” is detailed on Boyette Strategic Advisors website.

The best part of this plan is that you can provide your input by taking an online survey or attending one of the upcoming statewide economic development visioning meetings. Click the schedule below to find a meeting in your area:

Find a meeting near you

Businesses are attracted to communities with vibrant arts and cultural scenes. Supporting our existing arts infrastructure (a great Kentucky asset) is a way to lure businesses. If one of these meetings is coming to your area, it’s time for you to get out and be the “squeaky wheel” so the arts in Kentucky get the proper “grease.”

For facts and resources to take to your public meeting, contact or call 502-564-3757.

Sarah Schmitt, arts access director (with some help from Dan Strauss, senior program analyst)

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Squeaky Wheel

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

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