The head of Paducah’s Convention and Visitors Bureau is looking to grow the city’s arts reputation through collaborations with other UNESCO Creative Cities.
Executive Director Mary Hammond recently joined Mayor Brandi Harless at a UNESCO meeting in Enghien-les-Bains, France. Some 50 countries were represented at the event, including around 20 that share the City of Crafts and Folk Art designation with Paducah.
"To sit and talk about your program and how you're interacting with other programs. How we can do exchanges, how we can learn from one another. How are you involving schools? How are you involving your community? It was very exciting. It was exciting to know these people," Hammond said.
Hammond said every moment was an 'aha moment' for ways to further develop Paducah's reputation as an arts city. Hammond want to take the city’s quilting and fiber arts to another level by connecting with artists-in-residence programs and arts festivals in other UNESCO countries.
“So that we can look at this and say oh my goodness here’s something down here in Mexico that looks really good and we think some of our artists would like to be there. Or there’s a ceramic festival and we’d like to involve the art school and do some type of an exchange.”
Paducah will soon be in the spotlight among UNESCO cities:
"It's the very first UNESCO creative cities meeting in the United States. Iowa City will host the creative cities of literature in 2018," Hammond said.
Mayors, cultural ministers and other officials from 20 UNESCO Creative Cities in 15 countries will share strategies for incorporating the arts into community identity and development. Hammond said the meeting will show how Paducah works within its own structures to promote tourism.
“How proud I am that here in Paducah, this annual meeting is hosted by the City of Paducah, the Paducah Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Paducah Economic Development and the Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce. We’ve got that teamwork. We’ve got a vision for Paducah. And others are anxious to hear how we work together.”
The meeting includes a mix of workshops, visits to area restaurants and public forums.
The UNESCO Creative Cities Network meeting is September 23 through 27.
Paducah became a designated City of Crafts and Folk Art in 2013.