Indiana Artisan art and food jury panels meet twice a year, in May and November, to review applications from some of the state’s highest-quality artists and food producers. Different panelists are engaged in each of the two annual reviews, and all panels involve experts in their field from around the state.
Food jury panels include dieticians, chefs, sommeliers and cicerones, food writers and bloggers, food safety experts, culinary educators, food retailers, packaging/labeling experts, nutritionists, and others with expertise in Indiana’s food-related laws and regulations. Art panelists include artists, collectors, gallery owners and managers, folklorists, museum curators and directors, art educators, retailers, and others with a broad interest in, and appreciation of, art and craft.
Applications are posted online three or four months before being reviewed in May and November by the panels. Art panelists review the applications online before meeting in person to discuss each application and to review one to three samples of each applicant’s work. Each application is reviewed on four criteria outlined in the application guidelines, and each of the four areas is given equal weight. One criterion of particular importance to an organization called Indiana Artisan is the work’s link or relationship to the Hoosier State.
Two separate food panels review each food application. A “packaging/labeling” panel reviews applications online before meeting to review samples submitted by each applicant. Once the review of the food’s packaging and labeling is completed, the “taste/texture” panel completes its entire review in-person via blind “taste test” sampling. This panel completes its work without knowing the identity of the applicant and bases its decisions on the quality of the food’s taste and texture.
Once all the reviews are completed, those applicants whose combined scores are above a threshold established at each jury session, have their work “juried in” to Indiana Artisan, meaning their work becomes part of the Indiana Artisan brand and they may take advantage of the business expansion opportunities the organization offers.
Work that is part of the Indiana Artisan brand is promoted to retailers directly and through the annual Indiana Artisan Marketplace tradeshow. It is promoted through extensive media relations, both as individual work and as part of the brand. Artisans themselves are offered workshops on topics that include “pricing your work,” “identifying your audience,” “targeting and reaching your audience,” “developing a web site,” “creating a business plan,” “leveraging social media,” “wholesaling your work,” “working with galleries and retailers,” and much more.
Indiana Artisan also provides networking for Artisans, opportunities for discussion on shared and common art- and food-related themes. Through this, the organization’s goal is support to a statewide community of high-quality art and food artisans.
The organization also offers Artisans opportunities for their work to be included in gift baskets. It sells those, in addition to the individual work of the Artisans through its online store.
Artisans whose work has juried into Indiana Artisan may take advantage of all, some or none of these opportunities. Each is encouraged to leverage those opportunities that fit with, and maximize, their own individual business plan. Indiana Artisan is an economic development program that leverages the state’s “place-based assets,” its exceptional art and food artisans, helping them expand their businesses and, in turn, further support the economies of the communities where they live. In addition to the programs described that take the work of the Artisans to a market, the organization also works with eight “artisan trails,” encompassing nearly 30 Indiana counties. The goal of the trails is to increase tourism within the state and specifically to bring the market to the Artisans. The trails encourage people living in Indiana, and especially those vacationing in Indiana, to visit Artisan studios, workshops, galleries, and retail venues.
In 2014 and 2015, the organization will create two additional avenues for Artisans to expand their businesses by selling their work in “stores in stores” and then in “stand-alone stores” focused solely on the work that is part of the Indiana Artisan brand.
Currently the work of 249 Artisans, in 57 Indiana counties, is part of the brand. There is no limit placed on the amount of work that can jury into the organization, nor a limit on the number of Artisans producing work in an individual medium or food product line. For example, multiple jewelers, potters, woodworkers, etc. may have work juried into the organization, and multiple wineries, chocolatiers, and bakers also may have the same food products become part of the brand. Successful entry is based on high quality and demonstration of the application criteria as determined by each food and art jury panel.
Since the organization’s launch in 2008, evaluation criteria have remained the same. More than 1,400 applications have been reviewed, with fewer than 20 percent of the applications successfully “jurying in.” Applicants are provided with the comments of each jury panel, and there is no limit to the number of times an artist or food producer may apply.
The Indiana General Assembly passed a Resolution in 2010, making Indiana Artisan the state’s official organization to review, recognize and promote the work of Indiana’s highest-quality art and food artisans. Now as a non-profit corporation, Indiana Artisan, Inc. continues the program’s mission of developing a brand that gives meaning and recognition to exceptional Indiana-made goods.
The outcomes of the jury panels will be provided to the applicants as the sessions are completed. Following each May and November session, successful applicants are invited to a “bootcamp” where they meet each other, are provided with more in-depth explanation of how the organization can be leveraged to benefit their businesses and provided an opportunity to ask questions and suggest expansion ideas for the organization and its community of Artisans.