LexArts kicked off its 2012 Fund for the Arts Campaign Wednesday morning with a breakfast and champagne toast at ArtsPlace attended by around 150 arts, business and civic leaders.
The campaign aims to raise $1.1 million, equal to last-year’s goal when LexArts had to scramble to make up a 22 percent cut in the Lexington Fayette Urban-County Government’s contribution to the cause.
Unlike past years when campaign kickoffs heavily addressed economic travails, Wednesday’s event struck an aspirational tone with speakers including Lexington Mayor Jim Gray and Susanne Halmi of Tiffany & Co. touting the arts as a driver of economic growth and community pride.
“We saw a community that invests in itself,” Halmi said of Tiffany’s decision last year to open a manufacturing plant in Lexington that employs 125 people. “We were thrilled to find people talented and creative to support our business.”
Since arriving in Lexington, Tiffany has provided financial and other support to LexArts and the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra.
Gray cited the arts as a key factor in driving people to relocate to Lexington and touted the campaign saying, “We cannot shrink ourselves to greatness.”
LexArts President and CEO Jim Clark said after the breakfast that he has seen an increased interest in arts support recently and cited projects such as the expansion of the Living Arts and Science Center, the Lexington Philharmonic’s new commissioning program and the growth of the Chamber Music Festival of Lexington as recent achievements in arts funding.
“They give us something to talk about, and to show where the support is really working,” Clark said. “The important thing is to keep growing, because as these organizations grow, they will need increased operating support.”
The breakfast highlighted the accomplishments of young artists with a string quartet from the Central Kentucky Youth Orchestras performing an original composition by quartet member Dylan Rowe and 16-year-old School for the Creative and Performing Arts student Virginia Newsome discussing HeARTS, an not-for-profit group she founded to support arts education in schools. Since forming last fall, Newsome said her group had given $12,000 to support arts in schools in the United States, Haiti and Kenya.