Joe P. Asher
Harlan may be in the running to be named a Kentucky Cultural District. The Harlan Tourist and Convention Commission discussed the possibility during a recent meeting.
“There are only five designated cultural districts in Kentucky,” according to Harlan Center Director Brandon Pennington. “It’s the new thing that the Kentucky League of Cities has started doing.”
Pennington said benefits of a Kentucky Cultural District designation include marketing and economic opportunities, as well as increased tourism.
He suggested a steering committee be formed to study the possibility of securing the designation for Harlan.
“We don’t have to send in our intent to apply until July 1, 2013, because the 2013 designations are already submitted,” said Pennington. “This will give us an entire year… to evaluate Harlan County to see if we have the assets to actually become a designation. The steering committee’s first and foremost responsibility is just to evaluate our city and see if we actually have those assets.”
Pennington suggested the board consist of members of different organizations from around the county, including Harlan 20/20, the Harlan tourism board and the Cumberland tourism board. Committee member Annie Fox suggested the Evarts Tourism board also be approached.
“By forming this committee, we’re not actually committing to anything,” Pennington explained. “We’re just evaluating the town to see if we’ve got the assets to do so.”
The committee authorized Pennington to further research the possibility of becoming a Kentucky Cultural District.
The commission discussed the possibility of an artisan co-op that would feature local artisans.
“Unfortunately we don’t have the assets to start a building,” said Pennington. “I’ve discussed with them the idea of potentially renting out booths in the (Harlan) Center once a month to have local artisans come in and sell their items.”
According to Pennington, local artisans only have a few opportunities a year to sell their items, such as during the Poke Sallet Festival and the Mountain Masters Festival.
“I’m proposing that we rent these booths out at maybe $10 to $15 dollars. If we have seven participants then we’ve already covered the cost for one room,” said Pennington.
Pennington suggested having such an “Artisans’ Celebration Day” once a month, most likely on a weekend.
“I think it would be a wonderful opportunity,” said Fox. “I think it would lend support to local artisans, exposure to the center and promote local tourism.”
In other commission activity:
* A motion was made and passed to renew insurance for the next year for the Harlan Center;
* The floor was opened until the next meeting for nominations for the Harlan Chamber of Commerce Beautification Award.
Reach Joe P. Asher at 606-573-4510 or firstname.lastname@example.org