In 1998 the Kentucky General Assembly approved state funding to create a "Technical College of Arts and Crafts". The Technical College of Arts and Crafts was a critical component of the Knott County Community Development Initiative (CDI) that proposed to create an arts and crafts community in the region as part of a sustainable economy for Knott County and the eastern Kentucky region. The project was "assigned" and funds allocated for the initial building and operations to the newly created Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS). Hazard Community & Technical College was selected to guide the development of the Technical College as part of its operation. In the fall of 1999 college president, G. Edward Hughes assembled the National Advisory Council comprised of recognized experts in the fields of art, craft, craft marketing and craft education to begin the process of developing the school. As a result of the work of the National Council, the official name of the college was determined to be "The Kentucky School of Craft" (KSoC).
The Community Development Initiative (CDI) that spawned the project is developing a new, thriving, artist-based economy. The Kentucky School of Craft is a regional community collaboration and partnership that will:
The Knott County Community Development Initiative Steering Committee and Hazard Community & Technical College have worked together to develop a unique Kentucky School of Craft facility to provide for the education and training of a workforce that will need to be skilled and knowledgeable . Because of the uniqueness of the KSC and its philosophy of combining craft education with craft marketing and production, the School will become the focal point from which a diversified and dynamic economic base can emerge. Efforts are underway to create a school that will be known for its effectiveness in preserving traditions, developing successful entrepreneurs and promoting skilled crafts people. The works created by students from the school will follow the traditions of fine craftsmanship and will be expertly designed, gallery quality objects.
This is as much of an economic development project as it is an educational one as students will gain an understanding of business ownership and its importance to the community. An Artist Incubator project currently under development and the Kentucky Appalachian Artisan Center in downtown Hindman will allow time for qualified graduates and other artisans to establish themselves and their clientele. An important aspect being planned for the school is product development for specific markets and processes of sustainable production. The new Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea, KY, will become a dynamic partner with The Kentucky School of Craft in establishing these markets and will provide a major retail venue for new and existing craftspeople. Experiences with photographic techniques, electronic design, virtual education and Internet research, will allow the students to acquire a working knowledge of the role technology can play in developing profitable and sustainable businesses. The School of Craft will offer a wide range of classes and courses in craft, craft marketing, craft production and craft design for college students, area artisans, craft professionals and public school children.
A natural outgrowth of this program will be expanded community education opportunities in the arts. Through weekend and summer workshops, the School of Craft will also provide continuing professional development for experienced craftspeople both statewide and nationally. This project will contribute to a significant increase in cultural heritage tourism for Hindman and the region, thus allowing for creation of new jobs in various sectors of the tourism economy. It is anticipated that large numbers of professional craftspeople and the general public will travel to Hindman to participate in ongoing programs.