Documenting the public art treasures of a city the size of Frankfort is a major undertaking. This tour is not intended as a comprehensive inventory of Frankfort’s public art, but rather as a representative sampling presented in depth. To create it has required the commitment and effort of a widespread group of partners. Joanna Hay Productions proposed the idea to the Frankfort/ Franklin County Tourist Commission and Liberty Hall Historic Site acted as the lead partner in applying to the National Endowment for the Arts for support of the project through a Fast Track grant. Kentucky State University embraced the idea of engaging their students in service-learning with active participation by faculty, students and interns. The City of Frankfort assisted with the signage installation, the Frankfort/Franklin County Tourist Commission provided brochures, web hosting and signage. Downtown Frankfort, Inc. helped with grant writing and The Kentucky Historical Society through the Kentucky Oral History Commission agreed to be the repository for archiving all the collected oral histories as well as providing training for KSU students in interview techniques and processes. The Kings Center, a local community center serving youth in South Frankfort, agreed to have their students field test the tour’s appeal to families, while the Capital City Museum, the Kentucky Historical Society and the Kentucky Division of Historic Properties provided consulting on historic sites. Pastors and congregation members donated their time to share the stories of their churches, as did the owners of the Zeigler House, artistic director of the Josephine Sculpture Park, and numerous artists of all ages. As the project developed momentum, more sites wanted to be included and volunteered cash donations to fund the expansion of the project. Among these donors are the Friends of the Paul Sawyier Public Library, the First United Methodist Church, and the Church of the Ascension.
The development of these partnerships has been as gratifying as the creation of the tour. In the grant application narrative, we stated, “Building a university-community partnership for the arts is equal in importance to creating the public art tour.” This partnership exceeded all expectations and has led to new community-university collaborations. Equally important, it has led to individual students discovering a “home away from home” as they build relationships within the community.