Kentucky Cultural Accessibility Summit will celebrate successes, challenge us to continue to serve more diverse audiences

S.Ridgway Photo

Stacy Ridgway
Manager of Accessibility Services at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts

The Kentucky Cultural Accessibility Summit is March 30 at the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center (SKyPAC) in Bowling Green. One of the speakers scheduled to present at the summit is Stacy Ridgway, manager of accessibility services at Louisville’s Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts. The Kentucky Center has been a model for accessibility to a diverse audience. Ridgway took a few moments to discuss the Kentucky Center’s accessibility initiatives and the importance of attending the upcoming summit in Bowling Green.

Q: How has the Kentucky Center’s approach to access helped build your audience?

A: Our commitment started a long time ago. We began providing audio description in 1994, captioning in 1997 and as a result of that we have an ongoing dialogue with the community. The Kentucky Center has seen an increase in patrons using access services every single year since we began tracking those needs in 1994. Not only do we develop this audience for our venues and resident companies but we provide services to other arts organizations in our community.

As a result, individuals with disabilities know they have a variety of options when it comes to attending the theater and they take advantage of it. So, not only are we developing the audience for the Kentucky Center, that audience is also attending shows at Actors Theater of Louisville and the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival.

We have worked with the Muhammad Ali Center, the Speed Museum and other visual arts organizations to help them develop that audience. Once patrons know they have these options they will attend. It’s not going to happen overnight, but it will happen.

Q: What would you say to other venues who may struggle at making the investment in access?

A: The Americans with Disabilities Act has been in effect for 26 years. Still, people with disabilities in many communities do not have the access they need to quality arts experiences. Why should arts venues make this investment? The better question is why wouldn’t they? I have four very good reasons: it’s the law; it’s the right thing to do; it’s an audience development tool; and finally as the baby boomers are beginning to reach ages where they have accessibility needs their expectations for that access is going to be high.

Speaking as a person with a hearing disability I can say that, as a child, I saw theater and took trips to museums and I never had the access I needed to fully participate. When I would go back to my classroom and take a test on the play or a follow up assignment on the museum tour, I stood no chance of doing well. That is a perfect indicator of the need to understand the value of making an investment in accessibility. It is an investment in the community.

Q: Who should attend the summit and why?

A: Visual and performing arts administrators for ideas and steps towards making your organization more accessible to the disability community and a better understanding of the ADA; artists, especially those that work in educational settings, for ways to plan how all students regardless of ability can participate; special education teachers for information on how to include arts programming and for ways to secure artists with the best training to educating students of all abilities; disability service agencies for information on how to how to reach out to your local arts agencies to request what those you serve need in order to participate in arts programming; parents of students with disabilities, to become more effective at advocating for arts experiences on behalf of their child in the educational and community setting; artists with disabilities for networking and to meet other like minded professionals.

For more information on the Kentucky Cultural Accessibility Summit, contact Sarah Schmitt, arts council community arts and access director, at sarah.schmitt@ky.gov or 502-892-3116.

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Cornbread & Tortillas event gets smARTy Award

By Carla Gover


Carla Gover and Yani Vozos

I’d like to thank the Kentucky Arts Council for honoring the first Cornbread & Tortillas
event with a smARTY Award, on behalf of all the artists and volunteers who made the event a success! It makes a difference to know that our peers and colleagues notice and appreciate our efforts, and it helps give us renewed enthusiasm to continue with this good work. Appalatin, Casa de la Cultura Hispana, Jeri Katherine Howell, our volunteers and I were thrilled at how many people came out to support our fledgling project, and look forward to many future events in communities throughout the state. Cornbread & Tortillas is more than a festival. It’s an ongoing series of collaborative projects between artists who believe the best way to build bridges and create community is through music, culture and food!

In the future, we plan to have a full-length theater show that we can perform in diverse venues, educational outreach performances, community gardening initiatives and food-centered cultural events in the bluegrass and beyond! We were recently selected to receive an ArtsMatch grant from the Fund for the Arts in Louisville, and are planning our first Louisville event for 2017. Other plans include extending our performance to include African-American perspectives and artists. So, from Appalatin, Casa de la Cultura Hispana, Jeri Katherine Howell, all the amazing volunteers who helped make our first event a success, and myself, Carla Gover, we thank the Kentucky Arts Council for all it does to help the arts continue to be a vibrant part of our state!

The Kentucky Arts Council’s SmARTy initiative recognizes artists, arts organizations, communities and other individuals and entities that are doing innovative work through the arts within the Commonwealth.

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USDA grant will be a shot in the arm for the arts, farmers markets

Beaver Dam-FM

Ohio County Farmers Market in Beaver Dam

A few years ago while attending Christ the King Oktoberfest in Lexington (admittedly one of my favorite festivals of the year because of their musical lineups) I paid a dollar for one of those pull tab things that you never win anything on and, lo and behold, I won $50. I had never been more excited in my life. I spent the evening telling anyone and everyone I ran into, known or unknown, that I had just won $50 and waving my $50 bill around as proof that this was the best thing that had ever happened to anyone on the planet, in the history of ever. While that may seem extreme, it was fun to feel so surprised at winning a little money that it certainly made the evening outstanding.

So, imagine my reaction when I received a phone call about two months ago from Jeff Jones and Dean Tandy with United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development telling me the Kentucky Arts Council was going to receive $51,000 for our project to integrate the arts into farmers’ markets in Owsley and Ohio counties. I was pretty sure I floated around for the next week without my feet touching the ground! In the months preceding this news, my coworkers Mark Brown and Sarah Schmitt, along with arts council Executive Director Lori Meadows and I, had spent countless hours developing this project proposal and preparing our grant application to the USDA. We were so excited about the work we wanted to do we had decided we would proceed with it on some level even if we didn’t get the funding.


Owsley County Farmer’s Market in Booneville

But, as you know by now, we did! And we have already begun preliminary work in both counties to get the project underway. Overall, the project that we have titled “Homegrown/Handmade” looks at ways to create opportunities for artists to sell alongside their agricultural counterparts at a local established venue – the farmers’ market. There are many results we hope to measure once the project has been completed. “Homegrown/Handmade” will generate new revenue for local artists and increased revenue for farmers in these counties and also will increase local tourism. It will provide extensive training opportunities for the artists, farmers and community members involved on a broad range of topics associated with small business development and community development. All of these trainings are free and open to the public, so if you live in counties nearby I am encouraging you to take advantage of these learning opportunities.

The arts council will be documenting every step of this project and will produce a publication at the end that will include a step-by-step guide for other communities in the state interested in going about the work of integrating their local artists and arts activities into the farmers market to enhance local culture.

Since announcing the grant, we’ve heard from residents in several communities who are sharing interesting ways they have been integrating the arts into their farmers markets during the last several years. I am glad to hear from Kentuckians who have already begun to examine the possibilities of how the arts can maximize the farmers market experience for communities.

We will be sharing more information with you via our blog and social media as the project moves along. Our first training opportunities are later this month and mark the first official activity for each project, developing a creative asset inventory. You can find the dates, times and locations for these trainings, and register, on the arts council’s website.

If your local farmers’ market includes the arts and artists and you would like to share that information, please feel free to contact me by email at emilyb.moses@ky.gov.

Emily B. Moses
Creative Industry Manager

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TranspARTation a valuable resource for offering students access to the arts

With constant changes occurring in educational expectations, it seems that educators are continually being asked to do more with less, and produce an outcome that is better than before. In these times of trials it is imperative that educators, especially arts educators, explore all avenues, and exhaust all possible resources, in order to create and sustain quality arts opportunities for the kids they teach. Sometimes it’s the lack of knowledge that resources exist, for others it’s the challenge of organizing their time to obtain these resources.

schoolbusOne resource teachers should examine is the Kentucky Arts Council’s TranspARTation grant, a valuable funding source that not only helps expose students to professional level art, but also helps schools align their curricula to the newly adopted Kentucky Academic Standards for the Arts.

Taking effect this past July, the Kentucky Academic Standards for the Arts focus on four processes of the arts: creating, performing/producing/presenting, responding, and connecting. By allowing teachers the use of arts processes, instead of dictation over select content, a keen sense of autonomy is generated and promoted in arts classrooms across the Commonwealth.

Because of this given autonomy, teachers are looking for ways their students can experience the arts outside of the school building. Yes, it’s great to expose students to the dramatic arts through student generated school performances, but what if students could be given the opportunity to experience the sights and sounds the live theater has to offer? What are the barriers to allowing students these opportunities? Money? Scheduling? Resources? Although each of these are important, we should not allow them to stand in the way of offering students quality arts experiences.

The TranspARTation grant is designed to provide Kentucky teachers and students the opportunity to attend quality arts performances outside the school walls through funding for transportation to and from arts performance venues. All Kentucky public and private schools, pre-K through 12, are eligible to apply and grants are awarded yearly. Applying is easy and can be done through the arts council’s website. With no match funding needed, and the dedication of a small amount of time, educators across the Commonwealth can take advantage of this great opportunity for their students to have a quality arts experience.

For more information please visit the Kentucky Arts Council website or contact Jean St. John, the arts council’s arts education director, at jean.stjohn@ky.gov or 502-564-3757, ext. 486.

Dr. Kyle A. Lee
Coordinator, Visual and Performing Arts
Division of Program Standards
Kentucky Department of Education


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The journey to becoming a Kentucky Crafted artist

KyCraftedLogo_ColorWe asked Kentucky Crafted artist Bill Berryman to write about his experience preparing for and applying to the Kentucky Crafted program. Bill was adjudicated into the program in 2015 and had work on exhibit at the Kentucky Gallery of Kentucky Crafted: The Market. He is an art teacher at Sayre School in Lexington and lives in Winchester.

The deadline for applying for Kentucky Crafted is Aug. 15.


Bill Berryman

As I reflect back on this time last year, it brings back many emotions as I was busily preparing to apply for the Kentucky Crafted program. I was anxious because of the prestigious magnitude of the program and the thorough application process. A year later I can laugh, shake my head, and share my story with a new perspective of the entire experience.


At a Kentucky Arts Council workshop years ago, Ed Lawrence, the former director of the program, stressed upon us to start this process early and not to wait until the deadline. I’m glad I did! My application for a DUNS number, the unique number assigned to help identify businesses, was complicated by the DUNS website not letting me past the first stage. I had to call the company and they worked the issue out on their end. They were very supportive and kind.

I was also choosing the art to be entered, scheduling a professional photographer and composing and tweaking artist’s statements and the marketing copy.

When the time came to submit the application, the arts council staff was very helpful in confirming that they had received the application. I was impressed with how easy everyone was to work with and relieved that all the info and images had been received.

I had done all I could do and the waiting began.

Several weeks later I was humbled and excited to be notified by mail that I had been accepted into the program. It honestly took several months for the reality to settle in. During the program’s orientation meeting I looked at the talented group of individuals around me and couldn’t believe I was there among them. Since that time I was blessed by an invitation to exhibit in the first Kentucky Gallery, a curated shopping area within the annual Kentucky Crafted: The Market at Lexington Convention Center.  As part of the promotions for the event, I was asked to share my journey as an artist on the WUKY radio program Curtains @ 8 with Nick Lawrence. Both were such unique experiences and being on the radio forced me out of my comfort zone.

By being a part of such a special program as Kentucky Crafted, my confidence has risen, the quality and content of my work has gone to another level and creative opportunities have increased. I’m being invited to exhibit, demonstrate and share my work and story throughout the area. I have met and formed new friendships and relationships and have a new perspective of the creative process.

There are several benefits to being a Kentucky Crafted artist. Among those benefits are use of the Kentucky Crafted logo, eligibility to exhibit at Kentucky Crafted: The Market, inclusion in the online Kentucky Crafted directory and the opportunity to sell work at the Governor’s Derby Celebration.

As intimidated as I was about applying for Kentucky Crafted, the fruits of my labor have been a blessing. I have formed relationships with several staff members of the arts council, and have found them to be authentic, down to earth and fun individuals. I recently had one staff member email me to see how things were going because we hadn’t communicated for a while. Folks, that means a lot!

I’m proud to be a part of the Kentucky Crafted Program and encourage any artisan interested to seek further info from the council or an adjudicated member. It may change your life.

Bill Berryman
Kentucky Crafted artist

For more information about the program, contact David Blevins, arts council arts marketing director, at david.blevins@ky.gov or 502-564-3757 ext. 473.


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