Kentucky Culinary & Cultural Arts Initiative

From its rich agricultural farmlands to its diverse, locally sourced cuisine, to its unique authority in bourbon, and its world-class arts & cultural history, the Culinary Arts have been at the core of Kentucky’s culture throughout its history. Kentucky’s food and beverage culture has grown recently to national attention with the help of bourbon-ism and state-wide media investment, supported by a boom in global food culture. Food culture globally has grown to be the center of conversation, with over 250 million food pictures being posted to Instagram monthly, representing 27% of content shared by internet users.[1] This cultural relevance is not just online. Food moves people not only virtually, but also in reality. Over half of Millennials and Gen Xers consider themselves Culinary Travelers. Culinary Travelers spend 48% more than ‘Leisure Travelers’ when they travel, which represents 61% of spend of all leisure travel expenditures.[2] They also book their reservations before they arrive, which means awareness and alignment with entrusted sources are critical. Culinary tourism is expected to grow at a 9% CAGR over the next 4 years, representing an additional ~$82 billion opportunity. The increase in integrative culinary and cultural events is one of the critical factors that will trigger the growth of the global culinary tourism market.[3]

Fund for the Arts believes that Kentucky is perfectly situated in the confluence of agriculture, spirits and a rich culinary & cultural arts heritage to take advantage of these broader market trends. With the launch of the Culinary & Cultural Arts Initiative, the Fund for the Arts has partnered with the James Beard Foundation (“JBF”) to begin to address numerous issues facing our community. Through the holistic approach to programming with this initiative, we expect to educate, elevate and support the Kentucky Culinary & Cultural Arts (including both food and beverage), locally and nationally, which will have a significant impact to not only our culinary industry, but also to the surrounding community, especially the arts & cultural sector.  With our city’s vibrant cultural arts scene, that is also in the national spotlight, the partnership of culinary & cultural arts is the perfect opportunity for economic growth and placing our city & state as not only a tourism destination but a place to call home.

Fund for the Arts Recognizes & Celebrates Culinary Arts

Fund for the Arts (“FFTA”), the nation’s oldest community arts fund, has supported cultural arts programs in Kentucky for over 70 years. It has raised over $175 million to propel forward the relevance of our community’s cultural arts, inspiring minds and enriching lives. We are excited to incorporate Culinary Arts, an art form that encompasses all five senses, into our portfolio of funded arts programs. Culinary Arts are a unifying art form, with which all people within our diverse community have had experience. With an art form that garners over 25% of daily social conversation and is a significant driver of high-spend tourism, we believe that Culinary Arts will help strengthen all artistic communities within the Commonwealth. With decades of experience working in our community, with government organizations, local non-profits, philanthropic donors and businesses, we feel perfectly positioned to strengthen our entire artistic community locally and nationally with this initiative.

The Culinary & Cultural Arts Initiative

The Fund for the Arts Culinary & Cultural Arts Initiative educates, elevates and supports Kentucky’s diverse Culinary Arts (food and beverage) community, while providing equitable access to opportunities across the Commonwealth.  Fund for the Arts is excited to announce that we are launching this endeavor with an unprecedented partner, the James Beard Foundation (“JBF”).  Known for bestowing the James Beard Awards (which have been referred to as “the Oscars of food”) and for programming the James Beard House (the “Carnegie Hall” for chefs), JBF is the preeminent Culinary Arts organization nationally. This partnership is the first of its kind for JBF, bringing the Foundation’s selected programming to Kentucky for a minimum five-year commitment. The Foundation brings a significant history of culinary assets and programming to the table, while also bringing an unparalleled, immediate national spotlight to our initiatives. The Fund for the Arts has worked with JBF to develop a portfolio of JBF and FFTA programs that we believe addresses our mission:

Education and Cultivation of Kentucky’s Culinary & Cultural Arts Communities:

  • James Beard Foundation–awarded scholarships to Kentucky Culinary Arts students to pursue advanced education at an accredited culinary institution.
  • Kentucky Culinary Artists to attend James Beard Foundation’s Chefs Boot Camp for Policy & Change – a multi-day educational retreat at varying locations across the country. Participants receive policy and advocacy training while learning about important issues, challenges, and opportunities facing our food system.
  • Kentucky Culinary Artists to attend James Beard Foundation Issue Summits & Culinary Labs – JBF Issue Summits bring stakeholders from across the food system together with experts in diverse fields to discuss important issues that have an impact on the quality and availability of the food we eat. The Culinary Labs offer culinary professionals experiential learning opportunities, such as sustainable seafood sourcing and whole animal butchery, to increase their understanding of food-systems issues, sustainable solutions, and practical application.

Promotion of Kentucky, Kentucky’s Culinary Arts & Cultural Arts Communities Nationally & Locally:

  • James Beard Foundation Issue Summits & Culinary Labs to be held annually in Kentucky with participating chefs attending from around the country and world, incorporating Kentucky local Culinary Artists.
  • James Beard Kentucky Culinary Arts Dinner Series at the James Beard House in New York City, featuring Kentucky chefs and world-class Kentucky artists.
  • Fund for the Arts statewide Issue Summits & Culinary Labs to advance the Culinary Arts as a driver in the Commonwealth’s economic development, education and tourism featuring national thought leaders and innovators.
  • A cornerstone grant awarded to an artist or organization that furthers the mission of the Kentucky Culinary and Cultural Arts Initiative

Promotion of Culinary & Cultural Arts Communities to Kentuckians:

  • James Beard Foundation Greens events for Foodies Under 40- connecting young food lovers with new restaurants and chefs, artists and cultural organizations in Kentucky, promoted locally and through the James Beard network as well. This program cultivates and engages young professionals in the city and to collaborate with other local cultural institutions.  Food is a unifying medium that will provide a tool to utilize greater exposure to our entire arts community. 
  • Fund for the Arts events connecting food lovers of all ages with new chefs and restaurants, new artists and organizations, elevating and promoting the culinary, visual and performing arts landscape/ecosystem across the Commonwealth.

The Fund for the Arts is the fiscal agent for the Kentucky Culinary & Cultural Arts Initiative, coordinating the fundraising commitments and evaluating and reporting on Initiative impact (in coordination with James Beard Foundation).  This partnership also includes support for the Fund for the Arts core mission of increasing access to the arts for all in Kentucky. The formation of this partnership and the impact to come will bring tremendous opportunity for the Fund for the Arts and the Commonwealth.

The End Result

As the Culinary & Cultural Arts Initiative’s programs solidify with supporters and stakeholders, the true depth of impact will be defined in greater detail. However, the general structure of the program is designed to provide the following impact:

  • An increased nationally/globally competitive Culinary & Cultural Arts community that garners greater notoriety and recognition across the industry.
  • Capture and retention of existing talent by providing national engagement in the local Culinary & Cultural Arts community.
  • Entrenchment of Kentucky’s Culinary & Cultural Industries nationally as a complement to bourbon.
  • Implementation of programs addressing community issues addressed by the Culinary & Cultural Arts communities (i.e. sustainability, food waste, food insecurity, etc.).
  • General elevation of Kentucky in the national dialogue due to an increase in Culinary & Cultural Artists as brand ambassadors.
  • Economic development:
    • Increase in restaurant traffic and demand for Culinary & Cultural Artists
    • Increase in high-spend Culinary & Cultural Travelers
    • Increased attractiveness for non-resident executives and business owners
    • Increased attraction for young, educated professionals
    • Increase in earned revenue at arts & cultural institutions
    • Increase in philanthropy to arts & cultural institutions
  • A more culturally rich community for all constituents of Kentucky.

The Culinary & Cultural Arts Initiative will have a lasting impact on our community, with several primary, secondary and tertiary impacts to the local community, ranging from national notoriety, to economic development, to addressing specific issues in Kentucky.

Fund for the Arts & James Beard Foundation Partnership for Kentucky

Key Take-Aways

  • ‘High-Spend’ Tourism & Cultural Arts Elevation: The Integration of Culinary Arts with broader cultural arts (music, visual etc.) is a key component for Fund for the Arts and is a critical driver in the projected 9% growth of global culinary tourism, equating to approximately $82 billion.
  • Unparalleled Partnership: The partnership is a “first of its kind” nationally, bringing the James Beard Foundation, the preeminent food organization in the country, and its programming, to Kentucky for a minimum of five years.
  • Increased Awareness/Relevance: With the rise in the cultural relevance of the Culinary Arts, the Culinary & Cultural Arts Initiative is a timely tool to organically strengthen awareness, relevance and authority of Kentucky in the national/global food and beverage conversation.
  • Integrated Programming: Through the holistic approach to programming, we expect to educate, elevate and support Kentucky’s Culinary & Cultural Arts, locally and nationally. Our programming includes educational opportunities, culinary industry impact programs, awareness initiatives, and community-facing engagements. Hand in hand, our programming integrates the power of all artists in driving community impact & growth.
  • Community Impact: The portfolio of programs will have primary, secondary and tertiary impacts to the local community, ranging from addressing specific issues in Kentucky, to economic development, to national notoriety.
  • Sustainable Growth: The Culinary & Cultural Arts Initiative is providing a foundational structure of assets that will help build stronger culinary & cultural communities to foster future growth and bolster surface level media buys, by creating programming that organically garners national attention and engagement.
  • Arts Mean Business: The Culinary Arts & Cultural sectors are significant industries in Kentucky, generating hundreds of millions in total economic activity and tens of thousands of jobs. When we support the culinary & cultural arts communities, we not only enhance our quality of life, but we also invest in Kentucky’s economic wellbeing.

About the James Beard Foundation

The James Beard Foundation’s mission is to promote Good Food for Good™. For more than 30 years, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization has highlighted the centrality of food culture in our daily lives. Through the James Beard Awards, unique dining experiences at the James Beard House and around the country, scholarships, hands-on learning, ad a variety of industry programs that educate and empower leaders in our community, the Foundation has built a platform for chefs and asserted the power of gastronomy to drive behavior, culture, and policy change around food.

To that end, the Foundation has also created signature impact-oriented initiatives that include our Women’s Leadership Programs, aimed at addressing the gender imbalance in the culinary industry; advocacy training through our Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change; and the James Beard Foundation Leadership Awards, which shine a spotlight on successful change-makers. The organization is committed to giving chefs and their colleagues a voice and the tools they need to make the world more sustainable, equitable, and delicious for everyone. For more information, please visit and follow @beardfoundation on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

About Fund for the Arts

Fund for the Arts is a regional nonprofit with the mission to maximize the impact of the arts on economic development, education, and quality of life in our community. The Fund is a convener, promoter, leader, and driver of Imagine Greater Louisville 2020, the region’s arts & cultural plan. It facilitates the largest arts grant program in Kentucky as well as conducts one of the oldest united arts campaigns in the country. For more information, visit

[1] Digimind. Instagram: Key Global Statistics 2019.

[2] World Food Travel Association.

[3] Technavio. Global Culinary Tourism Market 2019-2023.