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Crowdfunding for small businesses will help Grayson Gallery expand programming

GRAYSON — The Grayson Gallery and Art Center and the Mountain Association have partnered to use an online crowdfunding platform that allows community members to donate directly to the gallery to help them expand existing initiatives and start new programs for their community. 

The Gallery receives a small amount from the City of Grayson and has a 10-year agreement with the Tourism Commission for free use of the building where they are currently housed. All other income is from donations and a few small grants. 

The Gallery wants to expand their programming to better serve their community, and reached out to Mountain Association for help. The expansion they sought didn’t rise to the level of needing a loan, so Mt. Association turned to the new online crowdfunding platform hosted by The Local Crowd, a Wyoming nonprofit, to help Grayson Gallery raise funds. Mt. Association partnered with The Local Crowd to bring their crowdfunding-based platform to Eastern Kentucky as another tool to help respond to the economic crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Grayson Gallery’s crowdfunding campaign launched on May 3, and people can now make online donations. The hope is that lots of small donations from many different people will add up to big funding over the course the campaign to help Grayson Gallery make several improvements to expand their offerings to artists and the community. They hope to use funds raised to improve Artist Market displays to help increase sales; expand art classes and offer more options to improve art education; install better lighting and sound equipment at the stage to allow a more professional experience for musicians; and, update their website to track and expand paid memberships and provide another place to advertise art for sale. 

“We support artists of all types by providing a free space for them to exhibit and sell their artwork, a place where we pay musicians for their performances, and free art programming for adults and children, with special programming for children with disabilities,” said Grayson Gallery’s co-founder, Mindy Click. 

The Gallery operates in a community with a 24 percent poverty rate, so they work hard to provide opportunities to under-resourced youth and community members. An annual art camp offers a tuition-free arts experience for children and approximately 50 percent of participants come from under-resourced families. 

“We’ve seen many kids develop an interest in art that might not otherwise have had any interest,” Dan Click, the Gallery’s other co-founder said. “We have even had kids go on to major in art in college and now we have an art camp alumnus who is teaching an art class for us.” 

The Gallery started in 2011 with a pop-up art show in the former Grayson fire station. It has since evolved into a community center that hosts a number of events and programs including a F!nal Fr!day ArtWalk, open mic music nights, Second Saturday Music Shindigs, Holler Down the Holler poetry slams, kids art camps, classes for children being home-schooled, special programs for youth with autism and those in recovery from addiction. 

The Mountain Association, which provides affordable loans and business support to small businesses and organizations throughout Eastern Kentucky, believes crowdfunding can be an effective tool to garner community support for a business or nonprofit project or initiative. 

“We are excited to offer crowdfunding support for businesses and nonprofits to raise funds to help them thrive in their communities,” said Mountain Association Project Specialist Amy Williams. Mountain Association also has available several loan products to help small businesses and nonprofits. 

Community members can learn more and donate to Grayson Gallery’s crowdfunding campaign online at https://bit.ly/3eYqHl9. For more information about how Mountain Association can help your business or nonprofit through crowdfunding, please contact Amy Williams at amy@mtassociation.org

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