Arts Council
Five organizations receive Arts Access Assistance grants to serve Appalachian region

Press Release Date:  Monday, July 20, 2015  
Contact Information:  Tom Musgrave
Communications Director
502-564-3757, ext. 489

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Kentucky Arts Council has awarded $40,000 to five Kentucky organizations through the arts council’s Arts Access Assistance (AAA) grant.

The theme for the 2016 fiscal year AAA grant funding was “Vibrant Appalachian Communities.” Applicants were encouraged to seek funding for artistic projects that evoked community pride and called attention to unique community assets. It was limited to Kentucky’s 54 counties in the Appalachian Regional Commission.

Organizations receiving AAA grants are:

  • Discover Downtown Middlesboro (Bell County) will host a series of free live music concerts on a vacant lot that has been transformed into a performance venue through creative placemaking. The project will also focus on training artists to sell their work online.

  • Cowan Community Action Group (Letcher County) will continue to develop a community theater, with an emphasis on collecting, scripting and telling the stories of Letcher County residents.

  • Knox County Public Library will expand upon its existing Thursday evening “Story Hour” with a program called “Celebrating Our Traditions.” The new program will showcase local artists and engage Knox County residents to explore the county’s artistic traditions through monthly demonstrations, performances, exhibits and hands-on activities.

  • Hart County Historical Society will document and bring prominence to its local, time-honored tradition of basket weaving via an exhibit and other events designed to engage the community in recognizing its basket making heritage.

  • Pathfinders of Perry County will present “A Seat at the Table,” a collaborative forum in which the Perry County community will gather for an open-air community potluck at Hazard’s River Arts Greenway to discuss and bridge disparate views and beliefs about key topical issues that divide neighbors and groups in Perry County.

Each organization received an $8,000 grant.

Hart County Historical Society will use its grant funds to bring more prominence to that county’s local time-honored tradition of basket weaving, said society board member Mary Margaret Villines.

“We have a basket making tradition from when our earliest settlers from the British Isles migrated to this country and that tradition has been undervalued forever. There’s a real effort to try to preserve what would be a dying craft,” Villines said. “We have had these baskets on exhibit throughout the state and in the Smithsonian, but never has there been an exhibit in Hart County. Only a few of our basket-makers have seen their baskets on exhibit. Many of them don’t travel.

“There has been an outpouring that has bowled me over, not just from the basket-makers, but from the community. They want to see their basket-makers honored.”

For more information about the Arts Access Assistance grant visit the arts council’s website or contact Sarah Schmitt, arts access director, at or 502-564-3757, ext. 492.

The Kentucky Arts Council, the state arts agency, fosters environments for Kentuckians to value, participate in and benefit from the arts. Kentucky Arts Council funding is provided by the Kentucky General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts. The arts council, along with the NEA, is celebrating 50 years of service in 2015, which the arts council is recognizing as the Year of the Arts in Kentucky.

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