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Support for the Creative Industry

Partnerships, service to state’s creative industry key to art council mission

By Lydia Bailey Brown

Kentucky Crafted artist Deborah Greene, co-owner of LaGrange-based Life Celebrations.
Kentucky Crafted artist Deborah Greene, co-owner of LaGrange-based Life Celebrations.

Lydia Bailey Brown, Kentucky Arts Council executive director, recently sat down with senior staff member Emily Moses to discuss the creative industry, service to Kentucky artists and upcoming opportunities for artists sponsored by the arts council.

Lydia Bailey Brown: What do you do at the Kentucky Arts Council?

Emily Moses: I am currently the administration branch manager, but have had two other positions – creative industry manager and communications director – since I started here more than five years ago. The arts council gave me the opportunity to blend my interests and training into one job. Working in different capacities at the agency has given me unique perspective on our operations, which I appreciate.

LBB: Did you ever imagine yourself working in the business capacity you do now, in arts administration?

EM: In a word, no. When I graduated from college (Morehead State University, 2001) having studied journalism and theater, I was mostly interested in pursuing a creative career. And I did. I worked in theater a couple of years and worked as a journalist/editor for several years. What I can say is that my initial career tracks prepared me for the roles I have taken on at the arts council. So essentially, my artistic and creative training paved the way for me as an arts administrator.

LBB: Do you view artists as small

EM: That’s a loaded question and not easily boiled down. From the perspective of my work at the arts council, I’d say yes. Professional artists have the same needs as other small businesses. However, you’ll often find what is most important to the artist is not to make money, rather to make work. Many of our agency goals are related to assisting artists in career development, and that includes developing professional business skills. That has always been the case with the arts council.

LBB: In what ways does the arts council assist artists in developing business skills?

EM: The state arts agency has worked for more than 30 years to provide necessary training to artists and arts businesses to grow and secure Kentucky’s creative sector. Kentucky has one of the oldest state-supported arts marketing assistance programs in the country. The Kentucky Crafted Program, formerly the Kentucky Craft Marketing Program started in the ’80s as an initiative of then-First Lady Phyllis George Brown. This program has assisted more than a thousand artists in its 30-plus years of operation by providing business training, marketing assistance, sales and promotional opportunities, and other professional development, to Kentucky artists who jury into the program. It really is a feather in the state’s cap.

LBB: What is the creative industry and its relevance in Kentucky?

EM: The “creative industry” is a sector of the economy which includes arts and cultural businesses, organizations and entrepreneurs who meet a specific need in the marketplace. The Kentucky Creative Industry Report released in 2014 helped the arts council gain traction more broadly with the state’s business community and increased our ability to create valuable partnerships that broadened access to resources for the state’s artists and creative professionals.

We’ve had tremendous success in this arena. We’ve been able to develop relationships with organizations like the Kentucky Small Business Development Centers, Kentucky Innovation Network, Mountain Association for Community Economic Development, Kentucky Highlands Investment Corp., Kentucky Community and Technical College System, University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, the United States Department of Agriculture, and many others.

All of the organizations I mentioned have been able to provide direct one-on-one assistance to individuals who work within Kentucky’s creative industry. I think that’s pretty amazing. Whether it has been providing small-business loans, creating hands-on programming in technical skill development, or providing valuable training to artists in basic business practices, these partnerships have all proved essential in supporting and growing the creative industry.

LBB: What professional and workforce development opportunities are coming up for artists and creatives?

EM: Our fourth annual Creative Industry Summit will be Nov. 16 in Morehead. This is our largest training event of the year and usually draws a few hundred participants. I would recommend checking the arts council’s website for more information. Additionally, we have staff who are hitting the road to offer informational workshops about arts council grants and programs and how to get involved with the agency.

Lydia Bailey Brown is executive director of the Kentucky Arts Council.