Remember all those documentaries about African wildlife you catch on TV from time to time? The ones where first lions, and then hyenas, and then buzzards all take their turns having their own kind of feeding frenzy? Well on Wednesday, myself and our intrepid Development Director, Carrie Truitt, converged on Frankfort along with every other arts organization in the state for our own feeding frenzy–instead of tearing into a felled zebra or antelope, we feasted on photos and funding. Officially, itâ€™s called Arts Day in Kentucky, and itâ€™s a chance for arts organizations around the Commonwealth to band together and thank their elected officials for supporting them; for us, it meant taking a photo with our local officials and members of the Kentucky Arts Council and the giant check they wrote us for this year.
Interestingly, though Carrie and I were all gussied up, clicking around the polished marble capitol, shaking hands and rubbing elbows with all the important people of the arts and government world, I realized we were closer to the Serengeti than I thought. In fact, I noticed a few particular species of arts nonprofit wildlife, each of which makes the arts in Kentucky the beautiful ecosystem it is. From the top:
The Power Players
The few lions I saw prowling the capitol were a sight to behold: the females had immaculately coiffed manes, starched suits, and intimidating shoes, and moved through the crowds of people knowing they were at the top of the food chain. These people didnâ€™t have to wait in line, and they didnâ€™t have to ask if someone could please call or text the senatorâ€™s office to see if he was still coming down or if he was in a meeting. These creatures had power, and they knew it.
Strolling along the arcades and grouping near columns were the hyenas of the group. They were less formally (but much more stylishly) dressed, eager to get in on the feast but not wanting to step on anyoneâ€™s toes. These folks waited quietly in small groups until their representatives arrived, at which point they descended quickly and fiercely on their prey. The creative energy of these people was palpable, and though they may not occupy the highest slot in the food chain, I knew they played a very important part nonetheless.
Last but not least were the people like myself and Carrieâ€”important in our own Danville ecosystem, but pretty much invisible in the Frankfort one. We had gotten some face time with State Rep. Mike Harmon earlier in the day, and he showed up punctually for his photo with us and our giant check, but our State Senator was nowhere to be found. We, unfortunately, were the buzzards of the day, waiting patiently in hopes that a few scraps of publicity would be left for us after all the others had their fill. We held out for our State Senator, but after more than an hour with no show, we flappedâ€”well, walkedâ€”off in search of an actual meal.
Of course, the arts industry in Kentucky is so much more than the three species I managed to see. There is an entire biosphere of different people, organizations, talents, and goals that comprise the arts in Kentucky, and I saw this incredible diversity throughout the day. The trip to Frankfort popped me out of my Danville/Boyle County bubble, cluing me in to the fact that the Community Arts Center is just one tiny sparrow sitting on the haunches of the giant water buffalo that is the Kentucky Arts Council. And the Kentucky Arts Council is one water buffalo in a giant herd of other water buffalo roving across the entire Commonwealth. Sparrow though I am, I am extremely proud to be a part of such an interesting and exciting ecosystem. Arenâ€™t you?