This Kentucky Arts Council event highlights the impacts of the COVID-19 tornado and western Ky. on the arts in the state


The Kentucky Arts Council is hosting a celebration of the state’s arts and culture sector this week.

The state agency calls it Arts Day(s) in Kentucky. It will feature virtual events like a roundtable of local Hispanic and Latino visual artists, a workshop on funding opportunities, and discussions with leaders from cultural groups affected by December’s killer tornadoes in Western Kentucky.

The annual event has traditionally been a single day of performances and demonstrations at the State Capitol Building in Frankfort to connect artists and arts organizations with lawmakers.

“It’s important for these people to connect with their statewide representatives to make the connection that the arts are state-supported in their local communities,” said Kentucky Arts Executive Advisor Emily Moses. Council.

The face-to-face time humanizes the impacts of public arts funding in Kentucky, she continued.

But COVID-19 has shifted the focus and the event will be held online for a second year.

“We wanted to make sure, throughout the pandemic, that we took every opportunity we could to really shine a light on the effects of the pandemic on the arts community as a whole,” Moses said.

They also wanted to showcase artists who have continued to share their work despite the challenges of recent years.

Some of the discussions during Arts Days will also highlight how artists and arts organizations continue to feel the effects of the tornadoes that swept through western Kentucky in December.

Nanc Gunn stands outside what was once the Ice House on December 20, 2021 as crews work to recover a statue.

The Ice House Gallery in Mayfield, Kentucky, home to the Mayfield/Graves County Art Guild and an arts staple in the region, was directly hit, devastating large parts of the building and much of the art inside. inside.

“We’re trying to only manage what we can do one day at a time,” Ice House manager Nanc Gunn told WFPL News in December, more than a week after the storm hit.

On Thursday, Gunn will speak about recovery efforts at the Ice House, with Lexie Millikan, who runs the Yeiser Art Center in Paducah.

Their discussion will be followed by a conversation with scholars and curators Maxine Ray and Wathetta Buford, as well as Kentucky Museum Director Brent Bjorkman, to talk about efforts to recover artifacts and documents from the Bowling Green African American Museum. after the December tornadoes.

Moses said the western Kentucky arts community has come together to try to find a way to move forward together, but faces immense challenges.

“Many resources were already stretched, in fact most resources were already stretched by the pandemic,” she said. “And there are always funding challenges for nonprofit arts organizations in Kentucky, always. So when you pair these things with an additional issue, especially one as large as the tornado, there are a lot of questions.

The Kentucky Arts Council has begun to assess the extent of the impacts on the arts in western Kentucky following the storms. They conducted interviews with individual artists and leaders of arts organizations in the region, Moses said. They also sent out a survey, and all of that work is ongoing.

Arts Council staff understand “this recovery will be expansive, it will be years away” and that basic needs are still a challenge for many in western Kentucky, Moses said.

“We think it’s important right now for us to go ahead and gather information and learn about the needs in the area,” Moses said, “and hopefully share this information so that those in these funding decision-making roles are aware of what is there.

Arts Days in Kentucky runs Wednesday through Friday online. You can register for events here.

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