Arts and Humanities Local News

Louisville Arts Groups Receive NEA Grants

The Kentucky Arts Council announced a round of National Endowment for the Arts grants for Kentucky organizations. The Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft and the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival will receive funding from the NEA to support their community arts programs.

Arts and Humanities Local News Next Louisville

Arts Council To Hold Forum In Lexington

The Kentucky Arts Council will conduct a forum this week in Lexington on arts advocacy.

Spokesperson Ed Lawrence says two representatives of the National Symphony Orchestra—Conductor Hugh Wolff and Executive Director Rita Shapiro—will join the discussion. The orchestra is in the midst of an eight-day Kentucky residency.

“We are especially encouraging arts administrators and people that are involved with small arts organizations to see how they can get the community more involved in making the case for why the organization deserves their support,” Lawrence said.

The forum is free an open to the public. It begins at 10:00am Wednesday at the Lyric Theatre in Lexington.

Local News Next Louisville

National Symphony Orchestra Arrives For Kentucky Residency

The National Symphony Orchestra has arrived in Louisville to kick off an eight-day Kentucky residency.

Residency Conductor Hugh Wolff  (right) says the 100 member ensemble’s itinerary includes six concerts.

“But that’s just the tip of the iceberg” he said. “There are 120 other musical events or outreach events involving the members of the orchestra, staff of the orchestra. So I think unprecedented in the interest the people of Kentucky have shown and the involvement of the musicians, I think everyone is excited.”

The events include visits to schools, chamber performances a public forum next week in Lexington on arts advocacy.

Some of the symphony orchestra’s musicians will play Friday with members of the Louisville Orchestra in a concert put together by Keep Louisville Symphonic. The show is not affiliated with either the National Symphony Orchestra or the Louisville Orchestra.   

The National Symphony Orchestra has conducted residencies in different states for each of the last 21 years.

Arts and Humanities Local News

2010 Governor's Awards in the Arts Announced

The 2010 Governor’s Awards in the Arts have been announced, with nine recipients representing individuals, businesses and organizations who have contributed to the arts in Kentucky.  “The purpose of the award is to bring attention to the vitality of the arts in Kentucky, and also to bring attention to the fact that the arts contribute to Kentucky in many ways other than just personal enrichment,” says Kentucky Arts Council spokesperson Ed Lawrence.

The nine recipients and categories include:
– Al Shands, Milner Award
– Stephen Rolfe Powell, Artist Award (Glass work pictured right)
– J.J.B. Hilliard, W.L. Lyons LLC, Business Award
– Mayfield/Graves County Art Guild, Community Arts Award
– Melanie Wood, Education Award
– Loyal Jones, Folk Heritage Award
– Mountain Arts Center, Government Award
– Rich Copley, Media Award
– Annie Potts, National Award

The recipients will be honored by Gov. Beshear at a public ceremony and celebration in October, in the Capitol Rotunda.

Arts and Humanities Local News

New Albany Plans to Apply For Cultural District Designation of It's Downtown

Elizabeth Kramer

New Albany has been featuring more arts and culture in its downtown in recent years, and now it’s looking to have that area become a state-designated cultural district. The city officially indicated this week that it will apply next month to the Indiana Arts Commission to receive the designation.

City plan commission assistant director Scott Wood says the downtown already has many features and events that can help it in its application.

“New Albany’s bicentennial is in 2013 and we’ve already begun incorporating public art as part of the celebration of our bicentennial,” he says. “Downtown is also listed in the National Register of Historic Places; there’s some great architecture.”

The idea of state-designated cultural districts has been gaining ground since Maryland was the first state to start such a program in 2001. Kentucky is working on a pilot program and Indiana launched its program last year. Their features vary. Some programs provide tax incentives to businesses and nonprofits within districts. Others, like Indiana’s, provide tourism marketing support.

Wood says he thinks New Albany could use that kind of support.

“New Albany has an impressive mass of cultural facilities in its historic downtown that we thought really deserved to be considered for statewide cultural district certification,” he says. “That certification would be yet another tool in our toolbox that would help tourism downtown, the Carnegie Center for Art and History and many of the other facilities we have downtown as well as our private businesses.”

Cities with areas accepted into Indiana’s Cultural District Program do not receive funding at this time, but some policy makers think that could change if the economy improves.

New Albany is the only southern Indiana city this year to officially indicate its interest in being part of the state’s Cultural Districts Program. Earlier this year, the districts in Bloomington, Carmel and Lafayette received official state recognition.

PHOTOS: The New Albany Riverfront Amphitheater (top); Flood, a large-scale video projection onto the YMCA building of the Ohio River water by Valerie Sullivan Fuchs and part of the The New Albany Bicentennial Public Art Project (bottom).

Arts and Humanities Local News

Kentucky, Indiana Get Arts Grants Worth $1.7 million

By Elizabeth Kramer

The Kentucky Arts Council is set to receive a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to support arts groups statewide. The council will receive more than $850,000 from the NEA to support the operating costs of arts groups as well as arts education programs.

Ed Lawrence is with the Kentucky Arts Council.

“A certain portion of that funding does go out to our Kentucky arts partnership grantees, which are arts organizations and its operational support,” he says.

He says this year’s annual grant from the NEA is nearly $60,000 more than last year’s and that the funding is needed given the recession.

“Arts organizations are hurting and they’re at bare-bones staff,” Lawrence says. “If we can just keep a staff member in there to keep them going until the economy comes back that hopefully that position will be able to sustain itself.”

Lawrence says the application for this year’s grant paid special attention to detailing how the some of the money would reach rural areas and start a pilot program to help cities create cultural districts.

“That’s been spurred on by Paducah and their artists’ relocation program,” Lawrence says. “So, we were able this year to offer grants to Horsecave, Maysville and Berea to actually do planning for cultural districts.”

Paducah’s Lowertown Arts District came after the relocation program started in 2000 to encourage artists to move to city. It has sense garnered national attention.

The Indiana Arts Commission is receiving a grant of more than $870,000 — nearly $65,000 more than it received in last year’s grant.

Arts and Humanities Local News

Arts Kentucky Eliminates Staff

Effects of the recession have become apparent at the statewide advocacy group Arts Kentucky. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.

This week, Arts Kentucky announced it will eliminate its executive director position at the end of this month.

The organization’s board president, Susan McNeese Lynch, says the move comes after seeing reduced funding, including state support from the Kentucky Arts Council. McNeese Lynch says it has plans for continuing operations.

“We’re now looking at supporting the work that we do — which is very specific — with perhaps a number of consultants,” she says. “We’ve got some really good depth and breath of consultants statewide who can provide the kind of services and expertise we’re looking for.”

Founded in 1995, Arts Kentucky has had a full-time executive director for the past decade. The person has overseen state and national lobbying efforts and management training for artists and arts groups. In recent years, the organization also has fostered networks to sustain arts education in Kentucky.

“We’ve also gotten deeply involved in arts education,” McNeese Lynch says. “And we’re working to make sure that we keep that particular segment in people’s minds and that they understand the implications of that.”

McNeese Lynch says the group will reinstate the position once it’s on better financial footing.

“Our goal is to get back to having staff,,” she says. “But it’s just not something we feel comfortable with doing right now until we build back up.:

Arts Kentucky’s members include 400 arts groups and individuals. It is affiliated with Americans for the Arts.

Arts and Humanities Local News

Legislators, Arts Groups Recognize Arts Day

Today arts groups, arts advocates and legislators celebrated Kentucky Arts Day in Frankfort. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.

The day began with the Kentucky Arts Council hosting legislators and arts groups from their districts who had received state grants. It comes during a session when legislators will consider further cuts to the Kentucky Art Council’s budget.

Despite the circumstances, State Senator Julie Denton of Louisville (Republican) says there’s still a lot of support for the art in the General Assembly.

“Many of us understand and appreciate the impact that they have on us not just individually, but economically,” Denton says. “And so I don’t think we can leave them hanging out in the wind. I think we have to be very sensitive to that and, at the same time, knowing we have to balance a budget.”

The day comes after the recession has already helped to reduce the council’s budget by 24 percent and state government is consider further cuts to the agency.

State Senator Tom Buford of Nicholasville (Republican) says the arts council’s now operating with a bare-bones financing.

“It’s very minimal now,” he says. “And we’ve lost ground on our financial sides of it. But we have picked up, I think, with philanthropists and people who want to help out, those who have some wealth.”

In the most recent round of grants, the council awarded more then $1.8 million to nearly 90 non-profit arts and cultural groups.

State Rep. Darryl Owens of Louisville (Democrat) says the arts and the council’s work are important to Kentucky.

“We have a lot of very difficult decisions we have to make and hopefully we won’t devastate the arts community with the cuts,” he says. “But it’s one of those things I don’t think there’s a great appreciation at least in the legislative bodies as there is, let’s say, in our communities of the importance of arts.”

Kentucky Arts Council staff say that this year’s Arts Day saw a much lower attendance due to the weather. Activities planned by the advocacy group Arts Kentucky were cancelled.

Arts and Humanities Local News

Arts Council Temporarily Suspends Six Grant Programs

The Kentucky Arts Council has decided to temporarily suspend six grant programs because of the states budget crisis. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has details.

The announcement comes after incremental cuts in the Arts Council’s budget over the year became an overall 24 percent reduction, which is almost $1 million. The grants include one that helped fund performing arts events and another that provided funds to individual Kentucky artists to further their work. Others have supported research into and presentation of folk arts and built partnerships between artists and local organizations to encourage educational and economic growth.

Arts Council executive director Lori Meadows says the decision came after looking at dire predictions about the state budget.

“Until we’re positive what our funding level for fiscal year 2011 is,” she says,  “it just seemed like the right thing to do, so that people wouldn’t go to the trouble of planning on or filling out an application.”

Meadows says the council has just put the grants on hiatus for the coming fiscal year. She says it’s trying to counter that loss by assisting artists and groups with other activities.

“We are planning on increasing our technical assistance in other non-grant related areas and work with artists and organizations and communities in that way,” she says.

Last year, the grants made up more than $150,000 in awards. And as recently as 2005, those programs provided arts groups and artists with more then $300,000.

Meadows says the suspended grants are all a particular kind.

“These are all project-related or professional assistance award programs,” she says. “And while they wouldn’t hopefully hurt someone’s bottom line, it may mean that they would have to look elsewhere for project-related expenses.”

Arts and Humanities Local News

Kentucky Arts Council Deals With More Cuts

With further budget cuts being proposed by Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, the Kentucky Arts Council is looking at ways to further trim its budget. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer reports.

COMP SHEETOne of the prominent topics at the recent meeting of the Kentucky Arts Council’s board of directors was further budget reductions. Due to falling state revenues over the past 23 months, the governor has asked for many cuts, says the council’s executive director, Lori Meadows.

“With the latest 6 percent proposed reduction, that will give us a total 26 percent budget reduction in our state funding and that’s about $1.1 million,” she says.

Meadows says Governor the latest request to reduce the budget has the agency further assessing all of its programs.

“We’re trying to look at what can we do to help organizations and artists really build and hold on during these challenging times so that we don’t lose too much,” she says. “So, we’re focusing a lot on technical assistance.”

Meadows says the agency has reduced grants in project-related areas that often fund events like special performances or one-time festivals while preserving other grants and project. It also had lowered administrative costs, in part by moving more publications online.

“We’re trying to make sure that people have the tools necessary to do their work, so things that would help organizations increase their operational capacity and artists increase their marketing skills and their professional development,” she says.

Meadows cites Kentucky Crafted, the annual trade show featuring Kentucky artists, as one program the council has worked hard to maintain.