Jon Kay directs Traditional Arts Indiana (TAI), the official statewide folk arts program that is based at Indiana University. Under Kay's leadership, TAI received a 2013 Governor's Arts Awards for its work identifying, documenting and promoting Indiana's traditional arts and practices. As a public folklorist and research scholar, Kay conducts fieldwork, supports public programs, and produces exhibitions and documentary videos about Indiana's traditional artists and art forms. He also provides professional development training for artists, community scholars and heritage professionals.
In 2013, he received an Archie Green Fellowship from the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Kay also lectures on a wide range of topics related to folk art and material culture, for example, Folk Art and Aging, Gravestones in Southern Indiana, and Researching Historic Photographs. Prior to working at IU, Kay directed the Florida Folk Festival, one of the oldest and largest state produced folklife festivals in the United States.
He also hosts the periodic podcast Artisan Ancestors, which explores ways to research and understand the creative lives of people from the past.