Paducah, KY is celebrating its fifth anniversary as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Creative City of Crafts & Folk Art. Since its designation in 2013, Paducah has boosted the local economy through tourism promotion, made invaluable relationships with cities around the world and brought global experiences and opportunities to the region.

“Designation as one of the world’s Creative Cities has directly impacted growth in international visitation and tourism economic impact to Paducah,” says Paducah Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Mary Hammond. “It’s differentiated Paducah and positioned us for the future. Building upon this new platform, Paducah has earned unparalleled national and worldwide attention for our cultural richness.”

Global Creative City by the Numbers

  • Paducah is 1 of 9 Creative Cities in the U.S. and 180 worldwide.
  • Since designation, tourism economic impact has grown from direct expenditures of $203.9 million in 2013 to $233.9 million in 2017, an increase of 14.7%.
  • Tourism infuses new dollars into the local economy and supports 3,123 jobs.
  • As a result of taxes generated by tourist spending in McCracken County, each McCracken County household paid $1,400 less in local and state taxes.
  • Americans for the Arts: Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 demonstrated the value of Paducah’s nonprofit arts and culture industry as an economic driver and cornerstone of creative tourism with annual economic impact of spending by organizations and their audiences of $27.5 million.
  • Barkley Regional Airport offers 1-stop connectivity to/from 50 international destinations.
  • Paducah’s National Quilt Museum now welcomes visitors from more than 40 countries annually.
  • Major media outlets around the world have profiled Paducah’s creative economy. Since the UNESCO designation, editorial features on Paducah have reached more than 1 billion readers.

Global Partnerships

Since designation, Paducah leaders have attended six annual meetings of Creative Cities held in six different countries: Chengdu, China; Kanazawa, Japan; Ostersund, Sweden; Enghien-les-bains, France; Krakow and Katowice, Poland.

Paducah hosted the first sub-network meeting of Creative Cities of Crafts & Folk Art in September 2017. Representatives from 10 UNESCO Creative Cities gathered in Paducah to discuss tourism opportunities, using arts and culture to drive urban revitalization and natural resources for sustainable economic and cultural development, highlighting Paducah’s exemplary practices.

Relationships formed at the annual meetings paved the way for Paducah leaders, educators, artists and business owners to participate in international festivals, knowledge-sharing and cross-cultural collaboration in all creative fields, from Sabores y Saberes to Days of Bread to the Small World Film Festival.