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‘Artisan Trail’

‘Artisan Trail’ is taking shape
along Ohio River Scenic Byway

Route will promote locally made art, crafts

By Levi King
Contributing Writer

NEW ALBANY, Ind. (January 2006) – Madison would be among a handful of southern Indiana cities selected to serve as “Showcase Communities” in a newly created “Artisan Trail” being developed by the Ohio River Scenic Byway Committee. The program would also create the need for an art center somewhere in each of these towns, official say.

Linda Lytle

Linda Lytle

Kathy Werking, one of the architects of the Kentucky Artisan Heritage Trails program, has turned her attentions to the Hoosier state to lead the development of the trail. Indiana artisans and retailers along the Byway could soon benefit from driving trails, an online directory, wholesaling and hospitality workshops, a branded and juried program and a permanent gallery.
The Byway committee received a state Quality of Place Initiative grant to conduct a feasibility study for an artisan trail and contracted Werking and Werking Communities Inc. to conduct a six-month analysis of the retailers and artisans in southern Indiana. The 21 Indiana counties covered include all counties on the Ohio River as well as those bordering these counties to the north.
In early December, about 25 people crowded into the basement of the Division Street Schoolhouse in New Albany, Ind., for Werking’s final results and recommendations. The audience consisted of tourism and public officials from communities along the byway.
Next, the committee will use Werking’s report to apply for a Federal Highway Administration grant to proceed with the project. If successful, development could begin this year.
Werking’s report contains survey statistics, a project description, participation requirements and descriptions of key communities. Werking also included a list of comparable programs in other states and made recommendations for organizing the project. She tentatively selected the name “By Hoosier Hands” for the program.
“The name highlights the personal, handmade nature of the products we’ll be dealing with and specifically refers to Indiana,” Werking said.
Artisans include craftspeople, fine artists, winemakers, cheese makers and gourmet or specialty food makers. Retail outlets surveyed include gift stores, galleries, state park gift shops and other shops engaged in the sale of handmade crafts, arts or specialty foods. Werking sent out more than 500 surveys, 199 of which were completed and returned.
Werking’s project description outlines the project in two phases. Phase 1 calls for the creation of an artisan and retail outlet directory. Eventually, the directory will be available online and in hard copy, and will include all artisans and retailers in the region regardless of whether they participate in the program.
Werking and her associates will use this database to map and describe a series of driving trails. To be listed on the driving trails, businesses must agree to requirements regarding signage, business hours and program fees.
The trails will be divided into four loops. Loop 1 includes New Harmony, Mt. Vernon and Evansville; Loop 2 includes Corydon, French Lick, Paoli and Jasper; Loop 3 includes Clarksville, Jeffersonville, Charlestown, Starlight, and Scottsburg; and Loop 4 includes Batesville, Milan, Madison, Vevay and Rising Sun. “Showcase Communities,” chosen for their existing artisans, retailers and tourism infrastructures, will anchor each loop. In addition to Madison, the selected towns include New Harmony, French Lick, Batesville, Corydon and Rising Sun.
“The Showcase Communities were selected based on their existing conditions. Madison has a number of active artisans and retailers as well as a healthy tourism infrastructure,” Werking said.
Linda Lytle, executive director of the Madison Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, explained that Madison will have a special role as a Showcase Community. “We’re looking into the possibility of having a permanent display space somewhere in town,” Lytle said.

Ohio River Scenic Byway

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