an Artisan Trail
funds study to create future
artisan program along Ohio River
(August 2005) Indiana craftpersons and retailers along the
Ohio River may soon benefit from a developing artisan program. State
officials have awarded a grant to the Ohio River Scenic Byway to conduct
a feasibility study for an artisan program. The program would include
21 counties on or directly north of the Ohio River.
by Don Ward
Vevay, Ind., supports
the trail idea.
Byway committee officials contracted Kathy Werking and
Werking Communities Inc. to conduct the study. Werking, an artist and
gallery owner from Midway, Ky., has been surveying artisans and retailers
in the included counties since May. At a July meeting of artisans, retailers
and tourism directors at the Madison Art Club and Gallery, Werking explained
the basis of the project. Theres a real need for a network
of artisans and retailers, she said.
Artisans include craftspeople, fine artists, winemakers, cheese makers,
and gourmet or specialty food makers. Retail outlets surveyed include
retail spaces, such as gift stores, galleries or state park gift shops
engaged in the sale of handmade crafts, arts or specialty foods.
Werking contacted more than 500 individuals and business, and is now
in the process of evaluating surveys as they are returned. From the
surveys, Werking hopes to gather information about the artisan and retailers
products, sales and marketing, as well as suggestions for the program.
Werking will conclude the feasibility study in November and make her
recommendations to the Byway committee. At that point, additional funding
will be required to implement the program.
Data from the study will guide the specifics of the project. From her
experience with similar programs in Kentucky, Werking said she has a
good idea of what the trail could entail.
I expect this to lead to both a marketing cluster and a training
initiative, she said. At the very least, it will be a driving
trail in association with the byway.
Werking expects to develop training materials and seminars for the businesses
and individuals involved. Well want to teach business skills
to artisans, like how to wholesale their products and how to set price
schedules. For retailers, we would focus more on hospitality training,
she said. Training on hosting workshops could be offered to both retailers
Perhaps Werkings largest responsibility will be developing marketing
strategies for the artisan network. Werking helped develop the Kentucky
Artisan Heritage Trails program, which covers much of eastern Kentucky.
The KAHT.com website provides maps, addresses and descriptions of the
participating businesses. The site provides viewers with maps of trails
indicating points of interest, allowing for convenient daytrips. The
webmaster maintains an online calendar of relevant festivals and events
throughout the areas covered. Retailers are also cataloged by product
category, such as sculpture and dolls, antiques, and ceramics and glass,
allowing users to easily locate desired items.
The website is exactly the thing we are hoping to develop from
this project, said Linda Lytle, executive director of the Madison
Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. Lytle and other tourism directors
in the participating counties have been instrumental in locating artisans
and retailers. Werking said that a similar website is likely, and for
a small fee, participating retailers and studios would fill out a template
to provide web viewers with a business and product description as well
as photos, hours and contact information.
Betty Manning, who co-owns and operates Stream Cliff Farms in Commiskey,
Ind., said the program could help connect her with artists and artisans
who create appropriate goods for her retail space.
Without some kind of coordination, sometimes its tough to
match the retailer with the person, she said. Ill
have artists come to me with their products, but often its something
that doesnt work for us. I look for pieces that are in keeping
with the period of the farm.
Vevay, Ind., soap maker Jenny Slover hopes the program will lead to
a branding effect like that of the Kentucky Crafted marketing
program. When I see the Kentucky Crafted logo, I expect to find
a superior product, Slover said.
The Kentucky Arts Council has operated the Kentucky Crafted marketing
program for 25 years. The program certifies hand-crafted goods as authentic
through a jurying process. Those who do not pass are placed in a mentoring
program until their work is determined to be of an adequate caliber,
at which point they can carry the Kentucky Crafted logo on their products
and participate in the annual Kentucky Crafted Market Show, held each
spring in Louisville.
Werking said a similar program could be in store for the Indiana trail,
but it is not the first priority. She hopes the Indiana trail could
eventually partner with the Kentucky Arts Council to avoid reinventing
the wheel and requiring the creation and funding of a new state
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