The Kentucky Craft Marketing Program (KCMP), a division of the Kentucky Arts Council, has played an important role in the new Montana Creative Enterprise Development department.
In February, a Montana delegation attended Kentucky Crafted: The Market, and brought two legislative leaders, Senator Jon Tester and Representative Monica Lindeen and economic leaders including Chief Business Officer for the state of Montana Dave Gibson, Director of Commerce Mark Simonich, incoming Chairman of the Montana Chamber of Commerce Susan Munsinger, Arts Council Chairman Bill Frazier, Blackfeet traditional artist and arts council member Jackie Parsons, international art dealer Geoff Sutton, and Western States Arts Federation board member Keith Colbo.
Montana is in the early stages of developing a craft-marketing program similar to KCMP. The delegation met with KCMP staff during The Market 2004 to observe Kentucky's existing programs that offer technical assistance, resource information, workshops on craft techniques, business and professional topics, and other special events for professional and economic development. National and regional promotional strategies to attract wholesale and retail buyers were also discussed.
They came to examine the costs of operating a state program and analyzed the economic impact the craft industry makes as a result of state sponsored programs. The delegation took time to talk directly with exhibitors at the show to understand steps small craft businesses had to take to get from part-time local artists to nationally recognized craft businesses. They also met with President McCall of Kentucky Community and Technical College systems, which influenced their decision to set up training as part of a proposed system in Montana. In addition to the basic business instruction, they will be offering courses artisans can use in a less structured format, such as web design, etc.
The Montana delegation submitted enough tangible evidence (based on Kentucky's program) to prompt the Governor's Office in Montana to move ahead with its own program. Montana's Creative Enterprise Development department will be enrolling six artisans in an entrepreneurial program being developed by the Great Falls MSU College of Technology. An additional element of this new program will include sending these six artisans to exhibit at the 2005 Kentucky Crafted: The Market.
Kentucky Crafted: The Market, an annual award-winning wholesale/retail Kentucky handcrafted gift market is the nation's first, and remains one of very few state-sponsored events of this type.
The Market is a collaborative effort among several state agencies and cabinets, which promote Kentucky's rich cultural heritage while supporting the state's economy with
$2-$3 million in direct sales, annually. The Market contributes to Kentucky's $252 million in craft sales with an additional $148 million in economic impact derived from out-of-state sales.
"We are so excited to be able to make use of such a great program that is already established in order to establish benchmarks for our state. We see this as our best opportunity to get at a great amount of information without having to reinvent the wheel," said Geoffrey Sutton, Director Creative Development.
Montana artisans will join other out-of-state exhibitors that are juried through their membership affiliation's organizations. Last year's guest organizations included Best of Missouri Hands, Tamarack, Southern Highland Craft Guild, Ohio Designer Craftsmen, and the Tennessee Association of Craft Artists.
"For many years the Kentucky Craft Market Program has consulted with numerous representatives from other states and countries in helping model their programs. Tamarack, West Virginia; Handmade In America, North Carolina; Armenia, Argentina, New Mexico and Canada, have all looked to Kentucky for structuring their programs. We are honored and excited the Montana artisans will be exhibiting at The Market, 2005 and will be extending our assistance to the growth and development of their program," said Fran Redmon, Kentucky Craft Marketing Program Director.
Although The Market plays an important role in the KCMP, it is just one of several events that provide opportunities for juried participants in wholesale and retail venues, such as the New York International Gift Fair; the Governor's Derby Breakfast; and The Kentucky Collection. Many new state government craft initiatives recently developed in Kentucky continue to demand high-quality work from Kentucky artists.
Since 1981, the Craft Marketing Program's mission is to develop the state's craft industry, support and empower Kentucky artisans and craftspeople, create an economically viable environment for craft entrepreneurs, preserve the state's craft traditions, stimulate and support product development, and generate public awareness, public support and public/private partnerships.
For more information visit: http://www.kycraft.ky.gov/aboutus.html.