Copious Notes

Danville meeting Saturday aims to organize Kentucky artists

Frank X Walker, shown at the “Black Superheros Through the Ages” exhibit at the Lyric Theatre in 2014, is leading a meeting of Kentucky artists and supporters Jan. 14 in Danville.
Frank X Walker, shown at the “Black Superheros Through the Ages” exhibit at the Lyric Theatre in 2014, is leading a meeting of Kentucky artists and supporters Jan. 14 in Danville. Lexington Herald-Leader

Asking, “Do you believe the creative class is committed enough to gather together for an afternoon to explore our collective potential?” former Kentucky poet laureate Frank X Walker and entrepreneur and grassroots organizer Lamin Swann are hosting a gathering of Kentucky artists and supporters from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday in Danville.

I popped Walker a note to ask him to elaborate on what the aims of the meeting are, and he replied:

“I’m crazy enough to believe Kentucky has more artists and writers than horses and distilleries. Yet our arts/artists still seem to be one of our best kept secrets. Given the current political climate in the country, I think its important for artists to be proactive and not reactionary. When I think about the 5,000 plus artists that have come through the Governor’s School for the Arts, all the writer and artist friends I know and continue to meet, and how broadly we define art in Kentucky, I try to image what would happen if those struggling to make a living in the smaller towns in the state had the same benefits and opportunities as the artists in Louisville and Lexington, and what could be accomplished if all of those artists were somehow connected and actively operating as a communal unit. I tried to imagine what a non-partisan, but pro-artists organization would look like (an artists advocacy group, an artist union, or a new political Arts party) and then started recruiting friends to lead and be a part of a state-wide conversation that was about ignoring county boundaries, political affiliations, geographical distance and other things that separate us.

“What if our most creative citizens sat down together and talked about and explored our collective potential? What if smaller towns without local arts councils started regional councils that served their needs? What if we exploited social media to eliminate the distance between Murray and Maysville or built theatre companies and traveling visual art and arts educational programs that toured the smaller towns, schools, and prisons year round? I’ve found that too many young artists in the state imagine that to really make it, to pay the rent, feed themselves, or to have insurance in the arts, that they will have to leave the state as soon as they graduate or settle for a lower quality of life. My dream is that the creative drain that occurs could be eliminated and that we figure out a way to become so organized that we could demand that the arts be part of the platform for anybody running for office locally or statewide.

“I hope to find out that I’m either just dreaming or that artists and the people who love us are ready to organize ourselves and figure out how to maximize our collective potential.”

The meeting will take place at Danville High School, and in a follow-up message, Walker said he chose to meet there because he sees the Boyle County seat as a smaller Kentucky town that values its artists. The meeting is free and open to the public.

In the same note, Walker wrote, “I mean networking with a big N under hopes and aspirations. I hope we can conceive and build the Artists Network that can serve artists in a way that they deserve to be served given their quantity and importance to the fabric of Kentucky.”

Follow Rich Copley on Facebook and Twitter, @copiousnotes.

If you go

Calling All Creatives: Artists for Kentucky Forum

When: Noon-3 p.m. Jan. 14

Where: Danville High School, 203 E. Lexington Ave., Danville

Admission: Free and open to the public