When people think of Kentucky, bourbon, Thoroughbreds and basketball probably come to mind first. There is, however, an emerging industry that many Kentuckians would not immediately think of when touting the Bluegrass State’s products – video-game development.
Yet that industry is gaining a foothold in Kentucky, according to George Landon, an assistant professor of computer science and director of Eastern Kentucky University’s Gaming Institute. Landon said there are now about 10 studios in Kentucky focused on game development, and several smaller teams scattered throughout the commonwealth working on various game projects.
The video game industry’s emerging role in Kentucky will be just one of the topics at the Kentucky Arts Council’s third annual Creative Industry Summit, which will be held Nov. 30 at the Lexington Convention Center. Registration for the event is $15, and can be completed online at artscouncil.ky.gov.
Landon will be one of several presenters scheduled to conduct workshops and participate in panel discussions on the state’s creative industry, including how that industry can be harnessed to positively affect community and economic development at the local level.
Landon, who has been teaching game design-related courses at EKU for more than a decade, said that although the video gaming industry is most closely associated with the technology industry, the connections to the creative industry are obvious if one steps back and examines the entire gaming experience.
“The industry needs people with visual-arts training – 2D art, animation, digital sculpting, 3D art,” he said. “It also needs people who are creative writers, music composers, designers and performers for voice acting. It touches the entire array of the arts.”
The summit will also include training tracks for individual artists to learn more about the day-to-day housekeeping side of their creative business. Sessions will focus on branding, marketing, social-media strategies, contracts, copyright and tax tips.
For those who are interested in growing their local arts scene, there is a community arts track with sessions on how to plan and execute public art projects. It will also examine the variety of resources available through the arts council to aid in cultural documentation and taking inventory of a community’s creative assets. These sessions are ideal for community-elected officials, tourism personnel, Main Street directors, chamber of commerce staff and members, and others who work in community and economic development.
Among the presenters at this year’s summit is Beth Flowers, director of AIR Institute of Berea College. One of the AIR Institute’s goals is to merge the creativity of the arts with the innovation of business.
“I am so inspired by the wealth of authentic, creative voices in Kentucky,” said Flowers, who is a transplant from Colorado. “Making and creating is so much a part of every community that I’ve encountered in the last year. There is such a deep history and commitment to craft and expression that is not as nationally recognized as it should be.”
Flowers’ presentation, entitled “Arts Builds Business Builds Arts,” will lead attendees through small group exercises designed to establish the common ground between businesses, the community and artists. It’s a way to inspire new ways of thinking about those relationships.
“I think our challenge is to expand our own local value of our artists and creatives, and truly make creativity a part of the fabric of everyday life so that art and creativity are seen as essential to the economic vitality of our communities,” Flowers said.
For more information on the summit, contact Emily B. Moses at [email protected] or (502) 892-3109. ■
Lori Meadows is executive director of the Kentucky Arts Council.