As vice chairman of the Kentucky Arts Council, the state arts agency, and as an artist myself, I am proud to be a part of Kentucky’s artistic landscape. We have a rich tradition of creativity in the commonwealth. The mission of the Kentucky Arts Council is to foster environments for the people of Kentucky to value, participate in, and benefit from the arts.
To this end, we will celebrate our cultural heritage during the annual Arts Day in Kentucky at the Capitol in Frankfort on Jan. 20, inviting artists, arts organizations and arts advocates from across Kentucky to Frankfort to celebrate the wonderful world of the arts in our beautiful state. We also seize the opportunity to recognize members of the Kentucky General Assembly for their continued support of the Kentucky Arts Council and its programs.
This Arts Day is even more significant because 2016 is the Kentucky Arts Council’s 50th Anniversary.
In March 1966, the Kentucky General Assembly passed legislation establishing the arts council. This came after Gov. Edward T. Breathitt created the council by executive order in 1965, the same year the National Endowment for the Arts was created by the United States Congress. We hope you will join us in Frankfort for this golden anniversary celebration.
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The Kentucky Arts Council is integral to the success of individual artists and arts organizations across the state. In addition to fostering creativity among Kentuckians with programs like the Al Smith Individual Artist Fellowship and the Emerging Artist Award, the arts council supports educational programs like TranspARTation, defraying the cost to schools of busing students to and from arts activities.
The arts council also supports education through its Teaching Art Together program, which puts working artists in classrooms to demonstrate and teach students about art. These education initiatives are important because they enrich a student’s experience and make art real for them.
According to the arts council’s public value summary for fiscal year 2015, youth from more than 4,000 schools had 1.4 million arts experiences, like visiting museums, seeing concerts or plays or arts demonstrations.
Your Kentucky Arts Council also promotes job creation through the arts. Did you know that there are as many working artists in Kentucky as there are workers in the state’s automotive and aircraft manufacturing workforce?
Kentucky’s creative industry employs 60,504 people. That’s about 2.5 percent of the state’s total workforce. The creative industry itself generates annual earnings of about $1.9 billion.
These statistics come from a study released by the arts council in December 2014, the first ever Kentucky Creative Industry Report.
In 2015, armed with these helpful numbers, the arts council began forming partnerships with economic development stakeholder groups across the state to bring basic business training opportunities from organizations like Etsy and the Kauffman Foundation to artists to improve their business operations. Artists in Kentucky represent a unique part of the cultural landscape, but they also represent jobs. The arts council remains committed to promoting the creative industry.
The arts council is also a sound investment. For fiscal year 2015, the Kentucky Arts Council awarded operating support of $1.4 million to 96 arts organizations across the commonwealth.
That investment yielded more than $7.3 million in federal, state and local tax revenue, including sales, payroll and property tax.
We are truly fortunate in Kentucky to have an arts organization like the Kentucky Arts Council that promotes and encourages the importance of the arts to both our state’s culture and its economy.
Everett McCorvey, vice chairman of the Kentucky Arts Council, directs the UK Opera Theatre Program, the American Spiritual Ensemble and the National Chorale.