2. Clay County, Kentucky: Shaping Clay Part II (Promise Zone County) Fiscal Agent: Stay in Clay

This continuation project will result in the production, staging, and performance of an historical outdoor drama to be used as a tool for connecting arts and heritage tourism efforts with Trail Town marketing initiatives. This project builds upon the results of previous Flex-E-Grant activities, including social theater training provided to youth and adults, construction of an outdoor stage that now serves as a public trailhead, and the recent designation of Manchester as a Kentucky Trail Town. The Kentucky Trail Town program is designed to help connect communities to trail systems and develop the locations as tourist destinations.

Stay in Clay commissioned and completed Part I of this project in 2016 utilizing Flex-E-Grant funds. Project outputs included the production and performance of an historical drama that spanned the period from 1807 to 1862. Part II extends this history by continuing the narrative arc established in the last play. Anne Shelby, a notable Appalachian author, produced the play script for the first performance. A multi-generational cast of nearly 30 people contributed more than 9,000 volunteer hours as part of the rehearsal and performance. More than 500 people attended the opening performances. Select scenes were also performed for representatives from the Kentucky Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts during a recent visit to Manchester. This play will be reprised at the annual Saltworks Appalachian Homecoming Festival to be held over Memorial Day weekend.

This festival, established with 2014 Flex-E-Grant funds, is held each May and celebrates Manchester’s history of salt mining. Both the historical drama and the festival are intended to contribute to arts and heritage based tourism efforts, a regional development approach advocated and supported by the Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) initiative. The outdoor drama recognizes and develops local talent while providing a marketable tourism opportunity for Manchester. Ticket sales will help ensure project sustainability.

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