This week marks the start of MACED’s new storytelling campaign, Appalachia’s New Day. Every day this week, we are featuring a story specific to a topic that demonstrates the new economy in eastern Kentucky. Our hope is to spread excitement and momentum for the great things happening in our communities.
We’re kicking things off with a story about the arts and creative placemaking in Harlan County. Arts and creative cultural placemaking have a long history in the region, and in order to move our economy forward, we’ll need to invest in the things we already have and make sure people working in those areas have the support they need to be successful.
This story demonstrates the potential arts and culture have in building a new economy in eastern Kentucky.
The Great Mountain Mural & Community Design Mega Fest is happening this year from June 20-23 in downtown Harlan. In its second year, the Fest is a gathering of artists, teachers, students and all others interested in learning how to:
- Create enduring outdoor, large-scale murals.
- Work with property owners and local governments to make public art happen.
- Engage schools, youth and other community members in the design and creation of public murals.
- Integrate the creation of murals into larger plans for community development.
Event organizer Robert Gipe is an eastern Kentucky illustrator and author, and says, the event is “for painters of all kinds, visual thinkers of all kinds, wall lovers, downtown lovers, art teachers, students, people with extra paint. Everybody.”
The festival is a project of Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College (where Gipe teaches), and is just one example of how communities in eastern Kentucky are using the arts to revitalize downtowns, celebrate community, and encourage new business opportunities.
The growth of projects like this are helping build a strong creative economy in eastern Kentucky. The region has long been known as an originator of great art, music and more, and by embracing this piece of the culture, and strengthening it as an important sector of the economy, it can become one of the paths forward into Appalachia’s New Day.
About: Appalachia’s New Day is a new storytelling effort offered by MACED to eastern Kentucky communities. We can work with you to help identify, shape and amplify stories about businesses, programs and initiatives in your community that are helping build a new economy in eastern Kentucky. Contact us or sign up here if you would like more details.