A creative culture abounds in Paducah.
Paducah has discovered what so many communities throughout the United States and around the globe discovered - the greatest natural resources for a community are the artists and crafts persons who are part of the creative industries sector of the economy. These are living resources that, as in Paducah’s case, are importable. Paducah has built an entire economic sector around artists, craft persons, performing artists, writers, and the culture they create.
Paducah Artist Relocation Program - This creative spirit became Paducah’s focus in the late 1990s with the birth of the Artist Relocation Program. The Lower Town neighborhood adjacent to the historic downtown was full of turn of the century homes that needed significant attention. The program was simple – invite artists to turn these homes into galleries and living spaces. The program has resulted in a breeding ground for creative concepts as neighbors create synergies that optimize their potential. These artists/entrepreneurs not only impact Paducah’s local cultural industries but also serve as gateways to national and international markets. Lower Town Artist Relocation Video (produced in 2017) >>
Downtown Revitalization and Quilt City USA - The spirit of the community is evident in its downtown revitalization efforts, where buildings reflecting restored 19th century architecture house museums, urban boutiques, and one-of-a-kind eateries. Also, a once concrete gray floodwall is now the canvas for more than 50 life-size Dafford murals depicting Paducah’s colorful past. Furthermore, Paducah is home to the National Quilt Museum of the United States and the American Quilters’ Society AQS annual QuiltWeek – a twice annually show that brings people from across the world to Paducah to view fiber arts at its best. Known as Quilt City USA®, Paducah is recognized worldwide as a mecca for quilters and fiber artists.
UNESCO City of Crafts and Folk Art - Another achievement for Paducah occurred in 2013. On November 21, 2013, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Irina Bokova announced Paducah’s designation as the world’s seventh City of Crafts and Folk Art, making the city a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network. The Network includes cities from all regions of the world recognized as cultural centers in the creative industry fields of Crafts and Folk Arts, Literature, Film, Music, Design, Media Arts, and Gastronomy.
“Receiving the UNESCO Creative City Designation will put Paducah in a position to share cultural assets on a global scale,” said then Paducah Mayor Gayle Kaler. “Paducah is poised for cultural and economic sustainability by creating partnerships locally and with other cities.”
September 24-27, 2017, Paducah hosted the UNESCO Creative Cities of Crafts & Folk Art Annual Meeting. Delegates converged from eight cities of Crafts & Folk Art representing four continents: Al-Ahsa, Saudi Arabia; Fabriano, Italy; Hangzhou, China; Icheon, Republic of Korea; Nassau, Bahamas; Paducah, USA; San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico; and Santa Fe, New Mexico. U.S. Creative Cities Iowa City (Literature) and Austin (Media Arts) also attended along with representatives of three UNESCO Candidate Cities: Cararra, Italy (Crafts & Folk Art); Kansas City, USA (Music); and Lexington, USA (Literature).
In early 2018, Paducah sentcommunity members to share culture and cuisine at the Sabores y Saberes artisanal and gastronomic festival in San Cristóbal Creativa. We spent time in Mexico alongside fellow UNESCO Creative Cities of Crafts & Folk Art and Gastronomy.
The Creative Cities Network is designed to promote the social, economic and cultural development of cities in both the developed and developing world. Launched in 2004, the UNESCO Creative Cities Network aims to develop international cooperation among cities that acknowledge and seek to support creativity as a strategic driver for sustainable development, through multi-stakeholder global partnerships.