artisans are organizing
new retail center on Main Street
tourism to create brand
on quality handcrafted products
(May 2008) Madison, Ind., businessman Bob Maile
and artist Bob Saueressig are spearheading an effort to establish a
Madison-based Artisan Center just ahead of the state tourism initiative
that will unite Indiana artisans under a common brand and logo.
Recently, the Indiana Office of Tourism Development, Office of Community
and Rural Affairs, the Indiana Arts Commission, and the Indiana Department
of Agriculture announced they are collaborating on a project, the Indiana
Artisan Development Program. This program will develop a brand that
gives meaning and recognition to Indiana-made goods and enhance entrepreneurial
efforts in cultural creativity. It was the subject of the April 2008
cover story in RoundAbout Madison.
by Don Ward
products made in the
area will be on display
at a new artisan center
in Madison Table and
Lighting, located on
Madisons Main Street.
Brian Blackford, development director for Indiana Office
of Tourism Development, said recent studies have shown cultural tourism
is a growing industry. Artisan development projects are excellent
economic development tools for communities, he said. People
interested in arts come to our state and stay longer.
Maile and Saueressig hope to establish a central location in Madison
where quality hand-crafted area goods can be sold. We want all
of the surrounding communities to be involved in this, said Saueressig,
who already has a gallery of his work on Main Street.
Maile owns and operates Madison Table and Light Co., which produces
handcrafted tables and chairs. The building at 325 E. Main St. was originally
a wagon factory. It will be the location of the new Madison Artisan
Center. Much of the original features of the wagon and carriage factory
have been restored, and historic artifacts have been displayed as décor
for the building.
Already, there are products created by several area artisans on display
at Madison Table & Light, including metal works by master metalsmith
and well-known Vevay, Ind., artisan Jerry Wallin.
We want to expand upon what we are already doing, said Maile.
We want to take this to the next level and invite other area artisans
to participate in what we are already doing.
Maile said artisans will have to undergo a jurying process in order
to be allowed to display their products. We want the very best
handcrafted products in this area.
Maile and Saueressig have been in contact with Eric Freeman, Indiana
Artisan Development Project Manager, to discuss their idea for the new
artisan center and to coordinate their efforts with the states
in developing a database of area artisans.
Currently, Freeman has acquired a database of about 2,500 Indiana artisans
and food producers that he will contact about the project. Part of that
database includes another database of artists involved in the Ohio River
Scenic Byways project under development throughout southeastern Indiana.
Unfortunately for Madison, only three of its artisans are on either
list. One of those artists is Saueressig.
Madison Area Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive
Director Linda Lytle said the idea to create an artisan center is Madison
is great. It will be simply terrific for the community and a wonderful
place to find select quality craftsmanship.
Lytle said tourism officials will cooperate and assist in the new effort
any way they can.
Already, Lytle has sent out questionnaires and information to area artisans
to help develop a database of local artists. When that list is completed,
Freeman plans to travel to Madison to hold an information meeting about
the states initiative. Everything should be in place for
his visit within the next three to four weeks, she said.
Those artists on the local list will be given a chance to participate
in the new Madison Artisan Center. Saueressig said the developing project
in Madison will definitely tie in with the states project.
Our center will provide an area for artisans to market their wares.
He was a developing partner in North Dakotas Pride of Dakota
program more than 25 years ago. That program, similar to the Indiana
Artisan Project, has been a success. Like Indianas new program,
it centered on handcrafted quality products, including food products
such as jams, honey, and jellies. Madison Artisan Center will also carry
quality food products developed in the area.
The push to develop a central location for area artisans
to display quality handcrafted products comes in the wake of tourism
marketing consultant Roger Brooks warning to Madison that neighboring
communities upriver are gunning for Madison. You cant rest
on your laurels, he said during his mid-April visit.
Brooks spent a weekend assessing the town. On April 15, he conducted
a morning workshop on branding and that evening presented his report
and recommendations for the town.
In November 2007, the Madison Main Street Program received a $20,000
Downtown Enhancement Grant from Indiana Main Street and the Indiana
Office of Community and Rural Affairs. The grant will be used in a cooperative
program between multiple civic and community groups in Madison to create
a branding program for the city, officials say.
Maile and Saueressig have also been in contact with tourism officials
in both Switzerland and Ohio counties to discuss the Madison Artisan
Center. Both of those counties are becoming known as art destinations
because of several initiatives each have developed.
Both counties are interested in networking and joining
together with efforts in our county, said Saueressig. We
want Madison to also become an arts destination.
Switzerland and Ohio counties recently joined together to create a unique
tour of arts studios that allow the public to interact with artists
during the actual creation process.
The initiative in Switzerland and Ohio counties is being viewed as one
model for the state project. Eventually, the efforts in those
counties will become a national model, said Freeman, who previously
worked in public relations at Hanover College for two years.
Along with the development of a central artisan location, Maile and
Saueressig are also working with Madison Main Street Program members
and other community organizations to get an arts walk and other artisan
projects, including a First Friday, or Final Friday
event established in town. Other nearby communities have Friday events
in which visitors, residents, gallery owners and the community at large
get together to socialize, visit the various galleries and shops throughout
the community, listen to live music and dine at the local restaurants.
These events have proved successful.
Nancy Gruner, executive director of Madison Main Street Program, said
Madisons inaugural Friday event will take place in June, but details
have not yet been finalized.
For more information on the Artisan Center,
call Bob Maile at (812) 273-5050. Read more about the states tourism
initiative at the www.RoundAboutMadison.com.
Click on April 2008 Stories.
Back to May 2008 Articles.