Shopping local

Area artisans are organizing
new retail center on Main Street

State tourism to create brand
on quality handcrafted products

By Konnie McCollum
Staff Writer

(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.

Artisan Center

Photos by Don Ward

Quality handcrafted
products made in the
area will be on display
at a new artisan center
in Madison Table and
Lighting, located on
Madison’s 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 state’s 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 state’s 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 state’s project.” “Our center will provide an area for artisans to market their wares.”
He was a developing partner in North Dakota’s “Pride of Dakota” program more than 25 years ago. That program, similar to the Indiana Artisan Project, has been a success. Like Indiana’s 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 Brook’s warning to Madison that neighboring communities upriver are “gunning for Madison. You can’t 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 Madison’s 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 state’s tourism initiative at the www.RoundAboutMadison.com. Click on “April 2008 Stories.”

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