National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Jane Chu announced The Appalachian Artisan Center (AAC) in Hindman as one of the recommended organizations for an award of $50,000 through the NEA’s Our Town Program to establish blacksmithing as an anchor to the emerging creative economy in eastern Kentucky. The Our Town grant program supports creative place making projects that help to transform communities into lively, beautiful, and resilient places with the arts at their core.
In a second release, NEA has also recommended a $20,000 Art Works award to The Appalachian Artisan Center to establish a School of Luthiery in Hindman. The Art Works category supports the creation of work and presentation of both new and existing work, lifelong learning in the arts, and public engagement with the arts through 13 arts disciplines or fields.
“The arts are all around us, enhancing our lives in ways both subtle and obvious, expected and unexpected,” said Chu. “Supporting projects like SPARK Our Town and The Hindman School of Luthiery at the Appalachian Artisan Center offers more opportunities to engage in the arts every day.”
“We are deeply honored to be recommended for these awards,” says AAC Director of Programs Jessica Evans. “It is exciting to see the creativity and diligence of the people of this region rewarded and our rich cultural heritage preserved through the continuation of the artisan trades. NEA funding adds a huge boost to our endeavors.”
SPARK Our Town will begin in late summer 2016 to establish a full-time blacksmithing forge and studio in Hindman, support the design, creation and installation of public art throughout the county and bring metalworking to the existing festivals in Knott County. Master Blacksmith Dan Estep from Sassafras will be spearheading SPARK to establish the arts as an economic driver in the region. Estep is a master toolmaker and bladesmith and a member of the Southeast Kentucky Blacksmith Association, the Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen, Kentucky Crafted, and AAC.
The Hindman School of Luthiery, slated to start in June 2016, recognizes the craftsmanship, science and art of stringed instrument making. The school seeks be another tool in diversifying the region’s economy and to continue the educational heritage in Knott County in the tradition of institutions such as Hindman Settlement School, Alice Lloyd College and Lotts Creek Community School. Master Artist Doug Naselroad will serve as the lead instructor of the Hindman School of Luthiery. Naselroad is a juried member of the Kentucky Craft Marketing Program and a member of the Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen and has been Master-Artist-in-Residence at the AAC since 2012.
In 2014, AAC was awarded an Our Town Grant for the Hindman Dulcimer Project, which helped to establish dulcimer-building workshops, the Museum of the Mountain Dulcimer, and the annual Hindman Dulcimer Homecoming Festival. Chu now owns two handcrafted instruments from Hindman’s Luthiery — a ukulele built by Naselroad and an “Uncle Ed” Thomas replica dulcimer built by Mike Slone, Coordinator of the Hindman Dulcimer Project.
In addition to receiving the Governor’s Award for the Arts in 2004, the Appalachian Artisan Center was recognized with the 2016 Organizational Leadership Award by the East Kentucky Leadership Conference.
For more information about the Appalachian Artisan Center and its programs, visitwww.artisancenter.net. For a complete list of projects recommended for Our Town and ArtWorks grant support, visit the NEA web site at arts.gov.