The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
When composer Dan Kellogg graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music, he assumed that he needed to move to New York City, the center of the musical universe.
There were challenges, particularly in finding a place to live. Both he and his wife, concert pianist Hsing-ay Hsu, have grand pianos.
“Try telling that to a Realtor,” Kellogg said Thursday morning during a panel discussion on building creative communities at ArtsPlace.
Eventually, he and Hsu found a home — 1,600 miles west of New York, in Boulder, Colo., where he is an assistant professor of music at the University of Colorado and, most important, where he has found a creative community.
“It’s important to find people you want to live among,” said Kellogg, right. “I love having that local, small community, and I actually prefer this to what I could have in Manhattan.”
The Thursday morning panel, presented by LexArts in conjunction with the Lexington Philharmonic and the Chamber Music Festival of Lexington, which concludes Sunday, focused on how to make Lexington closer to what Kellogg has found in Boulder, where the real estate is affordable and the indigenous arts scene is thriving. And thriving doesn’t mean an orchestra that presents the standard repertoire, museums that display the established masters, dance and theater troupes presenting the classics and main stages populated with artists on the way from point A to point B.
The discussion centered on fostering a community that creates new work and encourages risk-taking.
“Lexington is in a position to shape its own creative future,” said Scott Terrell, Lexington Philharmonic’s music director.
The Lexington Children’s Theatre has won a $2.5 million endowment from the W. Paul and Lucille Caudill Little Foundation to fund its Shooting Stars Youtheatre program in Elliott and Rowan Counties.
Lucille Caudill Little grew up in the Eastern Kentucky counties around Morehead and was an active artist and arts philanthropist in Lexington for most of her life. The Little Foundation has continued to be a significant supporter of the arts in Central and Eastern Kentucky since her death in 2002.
The Children’s Theatre gift, along with a $2.5 million endowment to fund arts scholarships at Morehead State University, which was announced Tuesday, constitute the largest gift ever granted by the foundation.
In a news release, LexArts president and CEO Jim Clark said the Children’s Theatre gift, “sets the bar for philanthropic support of the arts in Kentucky. This investment in the Children’s Theatre affirms its importance in the cultural life of Fayette, Rowan, and Elliott Counties.”
Shooting Stars, which has been funded by a $100,000 annual grant from the Little Foundation, presents workshops, theater schools, in-school residencies and performances and summer programs that LCT says have reached more than 35,000 children in Eastern Kentucky. The endowment will replace that grant, which the theater had to apply for annually, with approximately $125,000 a year in perpetuity.
“We are honored that the Little Foundation is entrusting Lexington Children’s Theatre with Mrs. Little’s legacy of providing arts education to young people,” Children’s Theatre executive director Larry Snipes said in the release. “The Shooting Stars Youtheatre in Rowan and Elliott counties will live on as a lasting tribute to her lifelong dedication to the arts.”
The National Symphony Orchestra has made a lot of music in Kentucky since landing in Louisville Thursday. But Wednesday morning, executive director Rita Shapiro and Kentucky Residency conductor Hugh Wolff sat down behind microphones to discuss presenting orchestral music to changing audiences in economically challenging times.
“There aren’t any fat years,” Wolff said of arts funding, to knowing laughter from the audience, which included Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra music director Scott Terrell and LexArts president and CEO Jim Clark. “These are very lean years.”
Though the very real probability of deep cuts to the National Endowment for the Arts in the next federal budget was never directly addressed in their chat, the conversation was colored by the presumption that arts finances will not be improving anytime soon.
“Everybody is having a hard time, even big behemoths like the Kennedy Center,” Shapiro said, referring to the home base of the National Symphony.
That, she said, should prompt arts groups to get more aggressive, viewing advocacy as marketing, and trying to build partnerships both with influential donors, officials and celebrities and social services that benefit from outreach by the orchestra and its musicians.
“We feel as good community partners we need to get into neighborhoods where they do not have exposure to classical music and work with those communities,” Shapiro said, citing instances where donors to social service groups have seen the value of music programs in the programs they support and become orchestra donors as well.
Programming, Wolf and Shapiro acknowledged, has to reorient itself from being a top-down idea to a bottom-up approach, addressing community and educator needs.
If you thought you needed to get in your Horse Mania 2010 tour before Friday, you can slow down.
Despite some notices that said the painted pony exhibit was leaving Lexington streets Friday, LexArts president and CEO Jim Clark says they horses will actually stay out until “toward the end of the month. ” He added that taking them in will be a three day process.
Like the original Horsemania in 2000, Horse Mania 2010 will go on display at the Kentucky Horse Park during the annual Southern Lights show starting Nov. 26 until Dec. 8, when they will be taken to Keeneland for the Dec. 11 auction.
The fiberglass horses with designs created by local artists went on display in mid-July and have since attracted a steady stream of camera-toting fans trying to see all 82. The Herald-Leader’s thorough Horse Mania Guide is still available at our offices at 100 Midland Avenue.
LexArts will be one of 200 arts councils around the United States participating in “The Arts & Economic Prosperity IV,” an economic impact study of the arts conducted by Americans for the Arts, a national organization that supports the arts and culture through private and public resource development.
Americans for the Arts bills the study as “the most comprehensive economic impact study of the nation’s non-profit arts and culture industry ever conducted,” says a LexArts release. “It alters the perception the arts are luxuries worth supporting in prosperous times but hard to justify when the economy is struggling.”
LexArts president and CEO Jim Clark is vice chair of Americans for the Arts’ private sector council, which develops strategies for not-for-profit arts groups to increase private sector support.
LexArts says it is currentlyseeking area groups interested in participating in the study, which will include detailed information from participating groups and audience surveys. A steering committee will be formed late in thelater this summer, with marketing and communications plans beingto be developed in the fall.
For more information on the study, call (859) 255-2951.
LexArts is expanding opportunities for local arts organizations to apply for unrestricted funds. A new category of “General Operating Support II” will provide unrestricted grants of between $2,500 and $25,000 for groups that are professionally managed with budgeted expenses of more than $50,000. In recent years, general operating support had only been available to groups with budgets of $250,000 or more for the previous three consecutive years.
“As the number of professionally managed nonprofit arts groups has grown in Lexington, the board wanted to ensure that they would be eligible for unrestricted support,” LexArts President and CEO Jim Clark said in a news release.
While most funds, such as LexArts Community Arts Grants, are given for specific projects, unrestricted support means groups can use the funds at their discretion. To be eligible, groups have to demonstrate fulfillment of an arts mission, fiscal responsibility, sound management, and they must operate year round.
Groups interested in guidelines and applying for funding should visit www.lexarts.org or call Nathan Zamarron, LexArts community arts manager, at (859) 255-2951.
LexArts’ decision to name a program coordinator for the Downtown Arts Center could be seen as a reaction to a drop in use of the 8-year-old facility since Actors Guild of Lexington pulled out.
And that is correct, to an extent.
“I have been thinking about it ever since I got here,” says LexArts president and CEO Jim Clark, who arrived in Lexington about eight months after the DAC opened.
He and Lexington actor and businessperson Leslie Beatty would talk about what sorts of things could be done in the center. But there didn’t seem to be much point in devoting a full-time position to the job.
“Actors Guild had all the good weekends for its shows,” Clark said. “There wasn’t any room for us to be creative.”
Now, with financial travails forcing Actors Guild to abandon its DAC schedule, LexArts has brought in Beatty to direct the center’s programming. Clark says Beatty’s combination of artistry and business acumen made her an ideal candidate.
“You have to know the numbers and what things cost,” Beatty says, “and have to know what the artists need.”
Talking about the future of the Downtown Arts Center, Clark and Beatty are in some ways taking a curatorial approach to the space, looking for interesting local programming, and regional and national artists for the black box theater and, eventually, the third floor.
When the DAC opened, the third floor was unfinished, but plans were announced to make it a cabaret and rehearsal space. That never happened, but Clark says LexArts is hoping to work with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government to develop a business plan for finishing the space, which Clark says should cost $300,000 to $500,000.
“We want to keep the space fairly raw,” says Beatty, who admires the third floor’s exposed brick walls and ceiling beams.
Horse Play for Arts Education, a spinoff of Horse Mania 2010, was unveiled Wednesday morning by LexArts with students all over Lexington designing and decorating “foals,” smaller versions of the Horse Mania horses.
Horse Mania is a public art project that first filled the streets of Lexington in 2000. The new edition is designed to coincide with the Alltech/FEI World Equestrian Games in September and October.
Hopes are fans of the project will take to the streets across the city to see the horses like they did in 2000, and Fayette County public schools Superintendent Stu Silberman said that’s a good motivator.
“It’s human nature,” Silberman said after looking at student designs Wednesday morning. “When people know their work is going to be on display they work harder.”
Much like the original Horse Mania, designs for Horse Play ranged from patterns like a puzzle horse to representations of Kentucky life and traditions to civic mindedness. Sayre Middle School student Clay Barnett’s City Horse depicted the construction and population of a city, including an alien space ship landing in town.
“We were happy that we had 100 percent participation,” of the public schools in the design competition, Silberman said.
In all, 50 foals and 7 full-sized horses are heading out to county schools to be decorated. They will be on display along with the 79 horses by local artists starting June 30. They will be on display until after the World Equestrian Games, and will be sold at auction in December at Keeneland.
“I hope most of the schools will be able to buy their horses back,” Silberman said.
Fifty percent of proceeds from the auction will benefit the school’s arts education program and the other 50 percent will go to LexArts’ Youth Arts Council and other arts-in-education programs.
LexArts president and CEO Jim Clark said Horse Play, “Showcases the talents of our young people and arts educators and draws attention to creativity in the schools.”
Lexington actor and former business owner Leslie Beatty has been named the new program coordinator for the Downtown Arts Center.
Her position is part of an initiative by LexArts to reinvigorate the Main Street facility, which opened in 2002 but has never quite reached the level activity that was hoped for.
On Tuesday, representatives from most of Lexington’s theaters met at the center and toured the third-floor space that was supposed to be an experimental theater and cabaret space, but remains unfinished. The fourth floor, which once housed the offices of Actors Guild of Lexington is currently vacant, and the first-floor black box theater has seen a decline in business since financial pressures forced AGL, formerly the theater’s primary tenant, to abandon its previously announced season.
Hiring Beatty and launching an initiative are part of LexArts’ effort to turn the center around.
“We want the DAC to be a creative laboratory where artists have the freedom to experiment and stretch their creative genius,” said LexArts’ president and CEO, Jim Clark, in a news release.
Beatty, who begins work Monday, said. “My goal is to present fresh and exciting programs that serve the arts-savvy public and also attract new and
or underserved audiences to the arts.”
LexArts has named Tania Blanich its new chief operating officer. Blanich comes to Lexington’s arts umbrella organization with extensive experience in media, serving as director of the Program for Media Artists, which supports film and new media projects, and associate director of National Video Resources, a New York-based foundation that helps disseminate independent media.
LexArts president and CEO Jim Clark said in a news release that developing media initiatives for LexArts will be part of her job description. Her primary responsibilities will be overseeing LexArts’ financial and organization operations.
“It is truly exciting to join LexArts and work with Jim to devise programs and strategic partnerships that support and share the vibrancy of the Lexington arts community,” Blanich said in the release.
Blanich is a North Dakota native who earned her bachelors from the University of Michigan and masters from New York University. She has worked in not-for-profit management for more than 25 years.
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