What do you think of Lexington’s inventory of theaters and other venues for live performances?
Currently, leaving aside our behemoth of Rupp Arena, our major arts and entertainment venues are the Singletary Center for the Arts, which seats about 1,500, and the Lexington Opera House, which accomodates just under 1,000. Then, in the seats-a-few-hundred category, you have the black box theater in the Downtown Arts Center, the Lyric Theatre, which is currently being rennovated, and the Kentucky Theatre. There are also venues such as Studio Players’ Carriage House Theatre and the Lexington Children’s Theatre that are almost exclusively used by the groups that occupy them, and University spaces such as the University of Kentucky’s Guignol Theatre and Transylvania University’s Haggin Auditorium that are primarily used by the institutions.
Am I leaving any Big Kahunas out?
So, is that a good inventory. What do we lack?
Some lament we never got the major performing arts center that was supposed to happen where the courthouses now stand at Main and Limestone. Others say Lexington isn’t ready for a venue of that caliber. Others look at smaller spaces such as the Woodford Theatre’s venue in Falling Springs Arts and Recreation Center and wonder why Lexington couldn’t have something like that for groups that may see the Opera House as too big for their needs.
Still others say creativity trumps venues, and point to places such as Charleston, S.C., that have built vibrant performing arts scenes without an ideal inventory of venues. Here, we have examples such as Balagula Theatre at Natasha’s Bistro and Bar and the chamber music festivals that bookend the summer taking place in an old tobacco barn at Shaker Village and Fasig-Tipton’s horse sales pavilion showing a creative use of non-traditional spaces in town.
Here’s another fly I’ll throw in the ointment: I just attended a concert last week in a new, state of the art 2,400-seat Lexington venue that would have been the envy of many area arts groups: Quest Community Church’s new sanctuary. If there is a desire for a new theater or theaters in town, do you need to have public funds to build it, or can the arts community come together to make something happen like, oh, Quest or a little baseball park near Broadway and New Circle that was built with private funds.
That’s sort of a distillation of conversations and thoughts I’ve had over the last several years about Lexington’s theater space.
So, what do you think? Hit the comment button and let’s talk.