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  Kentucky Arts Council

Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet

Jan. 27, 2016

Media Contact: Tom Musgrave
Communications Director
502-564-3757, ext. 489

Arts council accepting applications for
Al Smith Fellowship, Emerging Artist Award

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Applications are being accepted by the Kentucky Arts Council for the Al Smith Individual Artist Fellowship and the Emerging Artist Award for individual artists. The current application cycle is open to writers of fiction, creative nonfiction and poetry, and choreographers.

The Al Smith Individual Artist Fellowship program supports Kentucky artists engaged in creating work of high quality and recognizes creative excellence among professional artists. Fellowships are unrestricted $7,500 awards.

The Emerging Artist Award is a $1,000 unrestricted award to early career, professional Kentucky artists who demonstrate excellence and creativity in their work.

Murray poet Carrie Jerrell received an Al Smith Fellowship in 2015, and said the award translated to more time she could spend doing research and finding inspiration for a book of poems she is writing on the mythology and reality of the American west.

“Time is what every artist needs,” said Jerrell, who also teaches at Murray State University. “I spent three weeks traveling before I started my writing residency last summer in Nebraska. It was time I didn’t have to teach in the summer to try to get the money to do it next year. It gives you time to think, time to write, time to see the things that inspire you or help you figure out what it is you’re going to do. It’s good to imagine, but to be in it for a little while is so much more useful. It was priceless. The fellowship allowed me to do the residency, which was great, but it also allowed me the benefit of travel to prep my mind for the residency.”

The Al Smith Fellowship award was a validation of her abilities as an artist, Jerrell added.

“It’s a boost when someone believes in your work,” Jerrell said. “Writing is a lonely art, so for any organization to say ‘we think this project has promise,’ it gives you a real shot in the arm.”

That’s a sentiment shared by 2012 Emerging Artist Award recipient Matthew Gaddie of Bardstown. Gaddie is a wood fire ceramic artist, and has been practicing that craft professionally for more than 10 years.

“Spiritually and emotionally winning something like that lets you know you’re doing something right,” said Gaddie. “Every artist I know of is addicted to the high from people understanding and appreciating your work. It makes you feel validated; that you’re on the right path, doing what you’re supposed to do. When you do it for a living, success in art is such a moving target. When you get recognition like the Emerging Artist Award, you feel more confident in what you’re doing.”

Guidelines for the Al Smith Individual Artist Fellowship and the Emerging Artist Award applications can be found at the arts council’s website. Applications are judged by a panel of independent arts professionals on artistic excellence and professional achievement.

The application deadline for both awards is Feb. 16.

Interested parties, or those who have questions or need more information, should contact Tamara Coffey, individual artist director, at 502-564-3757, ext. 479, or

The Kentucky Arts Council, the state arts agency, fosters environments for Kentuckians to value, participate in and benefit from the arts. Kentucky Arts Council funding is provided by the Kentucky General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2016 the arts council celebrates the 50th anniversary of its establishment by the Kentucky General Assembly.

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