Janine Norman and her husband moved to Rockcastle County in 2002 to start their bed and breakfast business, Sweet Harvest Inn. She immediately involved herself in the local tourism effort understanding the benefits of growing local tourism but never dreaming that it would lead her to the Kentucky Folklife Community Scholars Program. Through her work on the Discovery Festival, she met Gabrielle Beasley, an instructor that persuaded her to try it out.
“I started out like many of my fellow classmates with no idea of what the program was about or the concept of folklife,” says Community Scholar graduate Janine Norman. “We were learning about folklife fieldwork, doing oral interviews, archiving information and presenting it back to the community. It all seemed so academic. I always illustrate my experience this way. It was kind of like we were learning a dance, step by step. It was hard. And then I had the opportunity to attend the Kentucky Folklife Festival to learn how to infuse this new knowledge into our festival and that’s when they turned on the music.”
The Kentucky Folklife Program has developed the Community Scholars Program for individuals interested in documenting and promoting community culture, folklife and traditional arts. Its participants become familiar with folklife documentation techniques, the ethics of working with communities, research methods, presentation of cultural resources, grant writing and project development.
“I benefited from this program in a couple of ways,” says Norman. “It has impacted my business by improving the quality of our festival in adding folklife components. This makes people want to come back to the area. I am completely booked during festival weekend. But on a personal level, I really got a treasure. We had to conduct many oral histories from as many people as possible as part of our course requirements. I had always heard my father’s World War II and Korean War stories as a kid but never paid any attention. At the time my father was very ill with cancer, so I just decided that when I went down to Texas to visit him I would conduct an oral history with him. It was great to learn so much about him that I had never known. I found out that he was actually among the first Army personnel that established Fort Hood in Texas. He passed away this past March, but now I know so much more about him and I have the interview, collected documents and photographs. I have them for myself, but I was also able to share by submitting the documentation to the Veteran’s History Project.”
The next Community Scholar Training Program will be held at Cynthiana Community College starting October 2, 2004. The classes are free and open to anyone interested in learning more about the history and culture of their family, their community and their region. The series of six classes will meet on Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. during the months of October through December. To register, contact Dave Kennedy, Cynthiana Renaissance at 859-234-7184.
The Kentucky Folklife Program is an interagency program of the Kentucky Arts Council and the Kentucky Historical Society in the Commerce Cabinet. For more information about folklife programs and services contact Folklife Program Director Bob Gates at 888-833-2787 ext. 4481 or email@example.com.
The Kentucky Arts Council is a state agency in the Commerce Cabinet. Working in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the Arts Council 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.
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