In 2014, ArtPlace America awarded grants to two projects in Kentucky, the River Arts Greenway in Hazard (Pathfinders of Hazard and Perry County) and the Creative Innovation Zone in Louisville (IDEAS 40203).
As we developed our projects, our two groups began to talk with one another about specific ways that we might collaborate, bridging rural eastern Kentucky with metropolitan Louisville.
We agreed to arrange small, informal exchanges between Hazard and Louisville—both for artists and for young people who can benefit from meeting and working alongside their peers in each environment.
For example, Sara Pitt, artist-in-residence with IDEAS 40203, has visited Hazard to develop ideas for a public art project in Hazard that will be implemented as a co-design project with Hazard artists and community members.
Pathfinders plans to work closely, too, with YouthBuild Louisville, one of the key partners in IDEAS 40203’s Creative Innovation Zone. The current plan is to bring to Hazard a youth work crew from Louisville that can work along-side young people in Hazard to help build a walking track within the River Arts Greenway. This River Walk is the first major feature of the Pathfinders ArtPlace project.
Later, Pathfinders and IDEAS 40203 anticipate that youth from Hazard will travel to Louisville to meet their peers in Smoketown. In addition, IDEAS 40203 will arrange with its sister organization, Residency Unlimited in Brooklyn, to send visiting artists from New York and other places to visit Hazard for short arts-based residences in eastern Kentucky.
Theo Edmonds, Executive and Artistic Director of IDEAS 40203, also has agreed to visit Hazard and offer a workshop on entrepreneurship for artists that will be open to creative practitioners from across eastern Kentucky. Edmonds was born and raised in Appalachia a mere 25 miles from Hazard in the community of Jackson, KY.
Finally, both Pathfinders and IDEAS 40203 are founding members of the Creative Commonwealth Network, a statewide informal association of the recent Kentucky grantees of ArtPlace America and the NEA’s Our Town programs plus representatives from Pikeville and Paducah. This group currently is exploring how its members can collaborate and share information that will strengthen both their individual and collective creative placemaking across the state.