The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
The Central Kentucky cities of Danville and Berea were among the first five communities to receive Kentucky Cultural District Certification. The honor, administered by the Kentucky Arts Council and presented by First Lady Jane Beshear and Madeline Abramson, wife of Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson, is part of an effort to connect cultural assets to economic development.
The other communities to receive the designation were Covington, Paducah and Horse Cave, all of which are well known for their cultural offerings.
According to a news release from the Kentucky Arts Council, “A cultural district is a well-recognized, labeled, mixed-use area of a community featuring a high concentration of cultural amenities that attract local residents and visitors alike. Cultural districts can be found in any type of community, from small and rural to large and urban. Kentucky’s program is designed to showcase each community’s unique character and assets.”
There were 26 applicants for the first round of designations. The honorees were selected by an independent panel, and the Arts Council says it will continue to work with prospective communities that hope to receive the designation.
Dec19Filed under: Balagula Theatre, Central Kentucky Arts News, Classical Music, Current Affairs, dance, Eastern Kentucky University, Inside baseball, Lexington Opera House, Louisville, Music, Rupp Arena, Singletary Center for the Arts, The Humana Festival of New American Plays, Theater, UK; Tagged as: Actors Theatre of Louisville, Allan Cowen, Balagula Theatre, Berea, Bill Owen, Building Arts Communities, Charles Compton, Charles Farnsley, Fund for The Arts, Humana Festival of New American Plays, Jim Newberry, Jon Jory, Louisville Orchestra, Michael Grice, Montgomery County Arts Center, Pam Miller, Pat Gerhard, Ron Smith, Singletary Center for the Arts, Stu Johnson, Third Street Stuff, WEKU
I teamed up with the news reporters at WEKU-88.9 FM last week for a four-part radio series, “Building Arts Communities.”
The series looked at recruiting talent, establishing arts districts, our theater infrastructure and the success of Louisville’s cultural scene.
It was an interesting opportunity to step back from the event-of-the-week cycle that artists and arts journalists can get absorbed in and take a look at what is and isn’t working, what’s here and what’s needed.
Some recurring themes emerged.
The biggest one crystallized in the final installment, Ron Smith’s report about Louisville.
“So how does a city make a name for itself in the arts?” Smith asked. “In Louisville’s case, success can be traced to vision and leadership. The sparkle of what could be was in the eye of Mayor Charles Farnsley in 1937, when he helped create the modern Louisville Orchestra. Twelve years later, Farnsley founded the Fund for the Arts, making Louisville the first community in the nation to gather arts groups together for an annual fund drive.”
Smith then chronicled how that vision was handed off to Fund for the Arts director Allan Cowen, who joked that his tombstone would bear the inscription, “We’ve got one more campaign, and it’s going to be a difficult one.”
Smith could have chronicled other visionary Louisville leaders, including Jon Jory, the Actors Theatre of Louisville director, who had this crazy idea of staging a festival of new plays in Louisville and inviting the nation’s producers and critics to see what was going on. Nearly a decade after Jory’s departure, the Humana Festival of New American Plays remains one of the biggest dates on the American theater calendar.
There were other examples of leadership on equal and smaller scales. Stu Johnson started his report about arts districts by talking about how Lexington artist Pat Gerhard’s vision for a groovy little coffee shop and store has made Third Street Stuff the anchor of a developing artsy area around Third Street and North Limestone.
Dec15Filed under: Arts administration, Central Kentucky Arts News, LexArts, Visual arts; Tagged as: Allison Kaiser, Berea, Berea College, Building Arts Communities, Christ Church Cathedral, Distillery District, Gallery Hop, Jess Marr, Jim Clark, Jim Newberry, Ken Gastineau, Kentucky Artisan Center, Lyric Theater, Manchester Street, Old Towne, Pat Gerhard, Rupp Arena, Stu Johnson, Third Street Stuff, WEKU
The second part of “Building Arts Communities,” the series the Herald-Leader has partnered with WEKU-FM 88.9 to present, aired this morning with WEKU’s Stu Johnson looking at developing arts districts. Stu visited the Limestone Street area of Lexington as well as Berea’s trio of distinctive arts districts.
Click here to hear Stu’s report. A transcript of his story is below.
By Stu Johnson | WEKU News
Third Street Stuff at the corner of Third and North Limestone in Lexington is home to a great deal of art.
“I do all the cans and all the furniture … whenever you get the feeling?… oh, I always have the feeling, (laugh) yeah, I always want to paint.”
Third Street Stuff owner Pat Gerhard has been in the arts business for more than two decades.. She says times are good…
“I’ve been watching Lexington and the arts scene for 35 years and I think it’s it feels really good right now there are a lot of artists doing a lot of work.”
For a long time, Gerhard says there’s been interest among many Lexington’s artists in creating a formal arts district…but there could also be a downside…
“It might be a little disadvantageous to people if they find themselves outside the art district that would be a little too bad, but I mean that happens.”
One organization just outside the central business district is the Lexington Art League. Executive Director Allison Kaiser admits the eventual location of an arts district is a very big question. There’s no question, she says, it can make quite an economic impact on its neighborhood. The League has been around for 53 years. Kaiser says several community leaders have suggested the League should move it’s headquarters downtown, and help establish an arts district.
About Rich Copley & Copious Notes
Raised by opera-loving parents in a rock ’n’ roll world, Rich Copley has parlayed his broad interests into his career writing about arts and entertainment. Since 1998, he has covered performing arts, film and faith-based popular culture for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the daily newspaper in Lexington, Ky. MORE | E-mail Rich