Four Ways Workshops Boost Berea’s Artisan Economy

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Cake decorating classes with Meghan Smith of Doodlebug cakes typically sell out quickly, like other offerings in Berea’s Hands-On Workshop series. The workshops are drawing visitors to Berea and boosting the artisan economy. Photo courtesy of Berea Tourism.

If recent numbers are any indication, artist-guided craft workshops seem to be boosting the artisan economy in Berea. Here are five takeaways from recently compiled statistics from the Berea’s Tourism Department.

Profits Steadily Rising: When the Festival of Learnshops series was launched in the summer of 2011, it sold 264 tickets over nine days, yielding $10,422 in sales. That program has grown steadily to the point that in the summer of 2016, Festival of Learnshops sold 1,263 tickets over 17 days for a total of $101,276.

Demand Increasing: When Berea Tourism launched a two-day, Valentine’s themed workshop in February, classes sold out so quickly that two more days had to be added. Over four days, the February hands-on (HOW) workshops made over $8,000 in sales.

Visitors are Coming from Out of Town: Most of the students in the workshops are not from Berea, according to the most recent survey. In the recent four-day February series, the highest number of visitors came from Richmond, followed by Lexington. Only 12 of the 68 students came from Berea.

Berea is Becoming a Center for Arts Education: In 2016, the art education workshops for school instructors sold $11,000 in tickets.

Workshops in the next series… run April 8, 9, and 28-30, featuring Meghan Smith of Doodlebug Cakes, who teaches courses on cake decorating with Spring and Kentucky Derby themes. Ken Gastineau guides participants in forging and stamping copper bracelets, while blacksmith artist Jeff Farmer offers instruction in forging knives, letter openers and keyrings. Woodworker Tim Wade instructs participants on how to build a wind art for one’s porch and glass artist Michelle Weston is back offering lessons in creating a glass blown julep cup, desk art, and other colorful works celebrating the spring and derby season. Justin Dean Burton offers lessons in broom art, while Gina Dittmeier will give instruction in acrylic painting. Jereme Zimmerman is again leading a fun course in mead making, a sweet honey wine that is rooted in ancient Nordic culture. Classes sell out early, so make reservations at www.visitberea.com or call 859-986-2540.

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