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William McCann: Kentucky Crafted Market stage should feature more than just professional musicians

The Kentucky Crafted Market — March 15-17, Kentucky Horse Park, Altech Arena, Lexington — is a wonderful opportunity for the state’s many talented craftspeople — whether dulcimer makers, quilters or woodworkers, etc. — and Kentucky Proud farmers to have the spotlight and make the money and contacts that allow them to succeed. Additionally, this year the Market is going to feature two days of music by some of the Commonwealth’s many fine musicians. What a great idea!

But why is the performance stage going to ONLY feature professional musicians?

Beyond the state’s poet laureates — Frank X. Walker, Bobby Ann Mason, and Fredrick Smock among them — why not feature high school Poetry Out Loud winners, or perhaps members of the Kentucky State Poetry Society reading some of their poems?

Why not have performances by some of the state’s standup comics? Should Joe Deuce only be known by his current fans? How about giving him and other standups an opportunity to stand and deliver some of their funniest lines to those attending the Kentucky Crafted Market?

There are high school drama programs in very nearly every county. What about allowing some of those talented teens the opportunity to perform on the Kentucky Crafted Market performance stage? Ditto for those teens who are outstanding musicians or speech team members? Let them have opportunities to perform as well.

The Kentucky New Play Series introduced twenty-five new short plays at the Kentucky State Fair between 2012 and 2016. The playwrights were from across Kentucky—from Ft. Thomas to Louisville to Russell Springs and Georgetown. The theatres that performed those works were from places as diverse as Elizabethtown, Cynthiana, Winchester, Lindsey Wilson College, Somerset, and, of course, Louisville. Put Kentucky plays on stage, performed by theatres from across the state.

It is not to discredit the state’s fine musicians to suggest that the Kentucky Crafted Market stage should also feature the commonwealth’s wealth of poets, comics, actors, playwrights and more. It is not too much to suggest that the Kentucky Arts Council promote not just its Kentucky Proud farmers and restaurateurs, its crafts and craftspeople, and its musicians but also the commonwealth’s many literary-based comics, poets, actors and playwrights. There should be recognition of the high school and college musicians, poets, comics and playwrights, actors, directors and others who will soon be leaders of the arts in their communities and across the state.

The Kentucky Crafted Market is a wonderful asset to those who most directly benefit from it—our fine craftspeople and the Kentucky Proud farmers and entrepreneurs. It is nice that professional musicians are being recognized and promoted, too. Now, expand it yet again and let still more of Kentucky’s finest strut their stuff and demonstrate their talents for all who attend future Kentucky Crafted Markets at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington this March.

William H.McCann, Jr. is a member of the Dramatists Guild, founder and former producer of the Kentucky New Play Series. His newest full-length play, Boats Against the Current, premieres on February 28 at Flashback Theater, Somerset, KY for eight performances. He lives in Winchester.

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