Showcasing the Arts

Community Arts Award

Butler County Arts Guild

Butler County

The Butler County Arts Guild organized in April 2013 with the purpose of promoting artists in Butler County. The Arts Guild’s first project was a mural designed by Andee Rudloff located in Morgantown. This hands-on, artist participation project inspired many to join the guild. In August 2013 the guild started the “Music at the Mural” acoustical jam session. In 2016, the guild obtained a building for its permanent home, where it exhibits the work of local artists and hosts numerous events, including Kentucky Arts Council traveling exhibits; the West Ohio Street Chalk Art and Craft Festival, a basket making class with Scott Gilbert and Beth Hester; a concert titled “Written in the Stars” with Sherri Phelps, Juilliard graduate and music professor at Eastern Kentucky University; book signings; performances by banjo player and fellow 2021 Governor’s Awards in the Arts recipient Sue Massek and National Thumbpickers Hall of Fame guitarist Joe Hudson; a piano concert by Adrianna Vossbrinck; and “An Evening with Actor Andy Stahl,” who discussed his career. In 2018, the guild began offering free guitar and fiddle lessons and basic art classes. The guild has sponsored a writers workshop with poet Ron Whitehead. Other activities include forming the As Yet Unnamed Writers Group; sponsoring a poetry workshop with Trish Jaggers, English professor at Western Kentucky University; producing a children’s play, “Fair Minded Favor,” written and directed by a guild member; establishing a Junior Arts Guild, which has produced its own art show; displaying a hand-stitched quilt exhibit and reception on National Quilting Day; sponsoring VSA art classes for children with accessibility needs; sponsoring stained glass classes; and hosting an “Open Mic Night,” including recitations of poetry and a variety of musical performances. The Guild consulted with Pat Banks of the Kentucky Arts Council’s Peer Advisory Network (KPAN) on strategic planning. The Guild became a WoodSongs Coffeehouse in 2019 sponsoring one Coffeehouse event before the COVID-19 pandemic.

What does this distinction mean to your organization?

It means that our hard work and dedication to promoting the arts in our community has been validated and recognized. It will also bring attention to Morgantown and Butler County, whose governments have helped support our cause for several years. This publicity can be used as a tool to attract even more members and participants. Since our beginning in 2013, we have been chosen “Nonprofit of the Year” twice by our local chamber of commerce and once by the city of Morgantown. As thrilled as we are with those awards, to be recognized by the state we love is a special honor we have only dreamed about. We are proud and grateful rolled into one.

How does Butler County Arts Guild contribute to Kentucky art and creativity?

We offer painting classes, guitar and fiddle classes, a writing group, open mic nights and more, along with presenting exhibits done by local artists and those sponsored by the state. We also have a Junior Arts Guild for middle and high school students. Additionally, we host an outdoor Chalk Art Festival, which started six years ago and continues to grow in popularity. Since we believe creativity has no price tag and no one should be deprived of a chance to create because of an inability to pay, these events are all free. Our town may be small in population, but we have big dreams. Butler County Arts Guild is rapidly becoming a regional facility, as we also have many attendees from surrounding Kentucky counties. We’re growing!

Why do you believe the arts are important?

This is our mantra: A thriving arts community benefits us all in countless ways. The arts can help members of a community mentally, emotionally and physically. We believe lives can be changed through art, opening up worlds and possibilities some may have never known existed. The arts help counties and cities fiscally as well, by creating commerce and tourism, which in turn creates more commerce. In these days of loss, worry and anger caused by the pandemic and the divisiveness in our country, creating beautiful things — poetry, a play, a photograph or a painting — is more important than ever. We in the Butler County Arts Guild strive to do just that.