FRANKFORT — Danville was designated a Kentucky Cultural District Certification recipient by First Lady Jane Beshear and Madeline Abramson, wife of Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson, Thursday.
Danville joins four other cities as a recipient of the designation: Horse Cave, Berea, Covington and Paducah. Twenty-six applications were received, and the five chosen are the first in the state to earn the certification.
The program is administered by the Kentucky Arts Council. It encourages community engagement and partnerships to build vibrant communities through the arts.
“This program will give us the opportunity to showcase our cultural communities,” Beshear said, adding the program already is receiving national attention. “Other states are looking at us.
“I’m always happy to brag about Kentucky. ... (This program) is positioning arts and culture to be central to the community” identity, Beshear added.
The designees will have resource teams working with them as well as their own pages on the Kentucky Arts Council website. Technical assistance and professional development in cultivating the arts and culture of the communities also are part of the designation.
Wilma Brown of Danville said she now has bragging rights on the Kentucky Arts Council’s board of directors.
“As a member of the board of directors for the Kentucky Arts Council, I am especially pleased Danville was chosen as one of the cultural districts,” she said. “It makes me proud.”
Lori Kagan-Moore of The Great American Dollhouse Museum, one of the Arts Partners who has been involved in the campaign to get the certification, called the designation “a fabulous honor.”
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for Danville to get the recognition it deserves,” she said. “The cultural and artistic development in Danville over the past few years has been phenomenal, and I am very pleased the state has recognized our status as one of five of the top cultural destinations in Kentucky. It’s a short list, and we’re delighted to be on it.”
State Rep. Mike Harmon, R-Boyle County, shared their pride and delight, as did Community Arts Center Executive Director Mary Beth Touchstone, who spearheaded the campaign to gain the certification.
“Mary Beth started the Arts Partners ... which has made an enormous contribution to the arts and culture of the community,” Kagan-Moore said.
Added Touchstone, “This was really and truly a collaborative effort. Jane Dewey (of the Danville schools) worked on the goals and objectives (for the application) and got the words down. (Great American Brass Band Festival Executive Director) Niki Kinkade did the asset inventory. Julie Wagner (executive director of the Heart of Danville) knew what was needed to make a successful application.”
Touchstone said a community forum also was part of the input process, as were story boards with post-its on which people could express their opinions.
“The Norton Center for the Arts was involved. The Pioneer Playhouse was involved. (The Boyle County Public Library) was involved. ... Everybody sort of joined hands,” Kagan-Moore said.
One of the hopes the Arts Partners have of the designation is the establishment of “wayfinding signs.” A quick Google search finds this description of wayfinding signs: “Way finding signs are necessary to keep traffic flowing by providing easy to read and easy to understand signage that is highly visible for quick access.”
“We are very eager as a group to have wayfinding signs,” Kagan-Moore said. “We’re united on this. It is our top priority. It’s a tourism issue.”
Touchstone added, “The EDP brings in jobs. The arts and culture keep them here.”
The Arts Partners recently were named to the advisory committee for the EDP.
An independent panel of reviewers chose the five communities for the Kentucky Cultural District Certification program.