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Loss Of State Funding Could Kill Kentucky Folk Art Center

Kentucky Folk Art Center

During his budget address on Tuesday, Gov. Matt Bevin recommended eliminating state funding for 70 programs across state government, including the Kentucky Folk Art Center.

Located at Morehead State University in eastern Kentucky, the Folk Art Center houses a permanent collection of nearly 1,400 pieces of self-taught art that tell a variety of stories about the state.

Matt Collinsworth is the museum’s executive director. He said he was “saddened, but not surprised” when he heard the news.

“I’m aware of the current fiscal environment in the state, so my take on it now and talking with the vice president at the university is we are just going to wait and see what comes out of the budget process and then we will try to make the best decision we can,” Collinsworth said.

But Collinsworth said the Folk Art Center holds a special place in the state, and has since it was established in 1985.

“I think we are one of the best and most productive small art museums in America,” he said. “And not just in terms of what we do with our collections and our exhibitions.”

The museum puts on annual events — including several folk art fairs to display current Kentucky artists — that have drawn visitors from nearly 30 states. Additionally, Collinsworth said, the museum places a big emphasis on education outreach — the Folk Art Center reaches about 100,000 students each year.

Collinsworth said he’s unsure the organization will be able to survive these cuts.

“Since our cuts in university support happened a couple years ago, the state funding, that $200,000 is indispensable to our organization,” he said. “Without it, given where we are located — I mean, we are located and funded in Eastern Kentucky to serve Eastern Kentucky knowing that most of the counties around us, and even the county we are located in, are poorer counties.”

He continued: “Hopefully Kentucky can figure out this mess we got ourselves in without losing too many valuable things in the process.”

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