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Jon Kay

Jon Kay

Director, Traditional Arts Indiana

Graduated: 1997


Where do you currently work?

I direct Traditional Arts Indiana, a partnership between IU and the Indiana Arts Commission. As part of my work, I have produced documentary videos, hosted public events, curated public exhibitions, provided training to artists and community scholars, as well as other activities, which strengthen and deepen Indiana's folk and traditional arts infrastructure.


Tell me a bit about your career?

It all started with a class with Warren Roberts at Indiana University. He planted the seed of my interest in Indiana folklore. Being interested in public sector, I chose to go to WKU, as the only program at the time that focused on the scholarship and techniques of public folklore. While at WKU, I learned much from Michael Ann Williams about folk art, folklore history and theory, which prepared me for my career. I do not think I would be doing what I am today if I had not gone to Western Kentucky. While at WKU I also worked with Bob Gates as a folklorist in parks Eastern Kentucky. Right out of Western, I worked a long series of contract jobs for: Kentucky Arts Council, Vanceburg Bicentennial Festival, Kentucky Folklife Festival, Historical Museum of Southern Florida, and Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center. Since then I have worked as a folklorist in Florida, where I directed the Florida Folk Festival and served as the president of the Florida Folklore Society before returning to Indiana in 2004.


How has folklore prepared you for your career?

I think WKU's connection with the Kentucky Folklife Program cannot be under estimated. While I think back fondly about my time at WKU, I think my experiences with KFP, really jump-started my career. I think the faculty's blending of academic scholarship and public practice made WKU the perfect place to begin my professional career.

Jon Kay

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 Last Modified 9/24/14