Kentucky Arts Council Provides Low-Cost Computer Training and Computers to Artists
As the parable goes, “You can give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, but teach him how to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.” The Kentucky Arts Council, with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts Challenge America grant has added the postscript, “Sometimes you have to give them a fishing pole.”
Through surveys and assessment, the Kentucky Arts Council and Eastern Kentucky University’s Center for Economic Development, Entrepreneurship and Technology (CEDET) found the biggest barrier artists and emerging arts organizations confronted in using technology to enhance their business was the initial cost of a computer and finding affordable non-intimidating courses for the very extreme beginner.
In response, evening classes with 15 students per class and three instructors are being offered in Lexington, Paducah and Pikeville in Internet Fundamentals and bookkeeping with QuickBooks® for $10 per class. A PC Essentials class is also being offered for $50 per class, which comes with a free reconditioned multi-media computer. The computers are the product of a collaboration with the McConnell Technology and Training Center in Louisville. Unsurprisingly, the PC Essentials classes, which run through May 26, are full and wait-listed with enrollees driving as far as three hours to take advantage of the opportunity.
The “Artist Computer Training” program will provide Internet Fundamentals classes to 75 students, QuickBooks ® training to 60 students, and furnish artists and arts organizations with 90 computers and PC Essentials training by the completion of the project. The continuation of this pilot program depends on additional funding and demonstrated outcomes.
Nationally recognized craft artist, Linda Fifield of McKee, Ky. has resisted taking the digital leap for years. She took the PC Essentials course in Lexington and said, “I am gradually easing into it. This was a good starting point. I’m looking forward to being able to keep digital images of my work and to be able to jury into shows online. That seems to be the way things are going.”
Louisville metal artist and gallery owner Craig Kaviar is looking forward to having a computer dedicated to his business, located at his business and separate from his home computer. Although this is a good start, he is interested in low-cost methods of making the computer compatible with barcodes and a cash register in the future.
Kenneth Brooks, president of the Lexington community arts organization, Sisohpromatem (metamorphosis spelled backwards) Arts Foundation had no experience with computers before the PC Essentials class. Now he feels confident that he can hook it up and put it to work. He plans to use this computer to improve communications of the organization, through better contact with customers, sending notices to patrons and better coordination with area elementary schools.
Every artist in the program seems to have different hopes for how the computers or the training will make a difference in their business. The most immediate benefit is removing the fear of technology. From there, artists and arts organizations are coming to a better understanding of the importance of technology and how to apply it to basic business practices.
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Photo Caption: PC Essentials class hands-on instruction at Bluegrass Community and Technical College, February 21, 2006. From left to right (seated) are Donna Hoover, Matt Varney (instructor), Mark Carey, and Craig Kaviar (standing, leaning over). Behind them, Charlotte Adair and husband.
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The Kentucky Arts Council is a state agency in the Commerce Cabinet that invests in programs that develop vibrant communities, provide lifelong education in the arts and support arts participation. Every $1 in grant funds awarded by the Kentucky Arts Council helps grantees secure $15 in earned income and matching funds from individuals, philanthropic sources and other levels of government. Kentucky Arts Council funding is provided by the Kentucky State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, which believes that a great nation deserves great art.
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