(To listen to the entire forum, click on Listen to the story.)
Local businessman Chuck Maisch opened the event recounting how a few business leaders started the Louisville Orchestra in the aftermath of the 1937 flood and in the midst of the Great Depression. He spoke about how the orchestra, on the brink of bankruptcy, was saved by the foresight of another business leader, Charles Farnsley, who became mayor.
Maisch used that story to rouse the candidates before turning over the floor.
“What we’re hoping to hear tonight is not just your words about your love of the arts and so on,” Maisch said. “But we really hope that we hear about the actions that you plan to move arts forward.”
During the next two hours, more than 300 spectators listened to candidates answer nearly a dozen questions in between their opening and closing remarks about their vision for the arts and culture in Louisville.
Many candidates emphasized generating more support to preserve and restore Louisville’s landmark architecture in various neighborhoods. And almost all spoke about the need to bring art and culture to children through education and special programs.
David Bretschneider says he was happy to hear those ideas.
“I appreciate the fact that there was emphasis on education and getting the kids involved,” he says. “I don’t like the fact that the schools have taken arts, music, industrial arts even — I’m a word worker by trade and nobody’s learning.”
Some questions covered special taxes and other funding mechanisms for arts and cultural programs. Most candidates were ambiguous about their plans in that area.
Lucy Langman, who came to listen to their ideas, says she didn’t hear anything novel.
“But it was good to get an idea of where these candidates are as far as how they see art being brought into their administrations and how they see, you know, art with development and the economic impact it has,” she says.