Kentucky Author Forum

Win tickets to see Ahmed Rashid and Clarissa Ward at Kentucky Author Forum

WFPL is proud to sponsor the University of Louisville’s Kentucky Author Forum presentation of Ahmed Rashid and Clarissa Ward on May 15th at the Kentucky Center. Rashid is a journalist and author of Pakistan on the Brink: The Future of America, Pakistan and Afghanistan. He is considered the world’s leading authority on the Taliban, and will be interviewed by CBS News Foreign Correspondent, Clarissa Ward.

Update:  Congratulations to Cassie Carney.  Cassie has won two tickets to the KAF interview and dinner with Rashid and Ward.

If you would like to win tickets to the interview and dinner with Rashid and an autographed copy of his book, just email us your name, phone number, and address. We’ll draw a name and post the winner here on Monday, May 7th at Noon.

Read our contest policy

Local News

Kentucky Center Cancels Thunder Over Louisville Event

Officials with the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts have canceled their Thunder Over Louisville event this year.

For the past four years, center patrons have had exclusive access to the western portion of the belvedere, even though it’s not included in the center’s contract with the Derby Festival. This year, the Derby Festival has found a sponsor for a new event on the belvedere, and the center cannot use all of the space.

“We tried to offer them more space. Not as much space as they’ve taken in past years, but more space than was contracted and its part of an effort to ensure public space on the belvedere,” says festival spokesperson Aimee Boyd.

Kentucky Center spokesperson David Holland says the full space is essential to the center’s event, and festival officials told the center less than a week ago that full access would not be granted.

“You know that means it was less than a month before Thunder Over Louisville and since we really didn’t have time to revise any of our marketing materials or really inform the public and since the pricing of the event was really based on having all of that space in the back we really had no choice but to cancel the event for this year,” says Holland.

Holland says patrons who have already purchased tickets will receive a refund.

Arts and Humanities Local News

Students' Art Bikes Hit Downtown Streets Monday

Dozens of bikes that high school art students have transformed into art pieces go on display this weekend before being installed around downtown Monday. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.

Five years ago, the Louisville Downtown Management District provided old bikes to art students at downtown area high schools so they could make sculptures. The organization has done it again this year. And this weekend, the fruits of their labor — art bikes — are on exhibit.

The management district’s Ken Herndon says in January it gave 32 old bikes to students at the Brown School, duPont Manual, St. Francis and Presentation Academy.

“We said make some art out of these, totally carte blanche, whatever they wanted to do,” he says. “And we’ll have them on display this weekend at the Center for the Arts lobby.”

The management district, which is responsible for installing more than 30 bike racks by professional artists, gave old bikes to students in January. And those students have used them to create a variety of sculptures. Some have antlers and one includes tuba parts.

DuPont Manual High School art teacher Alana Alford says her students learned a lot from the project.

“It’s like a culmination of all their knowledge — especially the seniors — to put together their own ideas and then, of course, especially to see them out in the community,” Alford says. “And that really, really brings it home that they can do art for a living.”

Samantha Ludwig, a senior at duPont Manual High School, says she learned a lot working with her team to create one of the sculptures.

“Definitely problem solving, also working with different medias is important,” she says, “and just getting used to working with the community and trying to do something that can relate to not only artists but people who can appreciate it just walking down the street.”

The art bikes, now on exhibit at the Kentucky Center for the Arts, will be installed at bike racks on Monday for display through May 17.

Local News

Kentucky Center President Debunks Myths

The President of the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts spoke to the Louisville Downtown Rotary Club today about the center’s role in the community. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.

(To listen to the entire presentation, click on Listen to the story.)

Stephen Klein talked about how the Kentucky Center provides performance space to local arts groups at reduced rates and fosters education programs, including the annual, statewide Governor’s School for the Arts.

But Klein turns his attention to the new arena when asked a question. He says he and his colleagues are “scared” about how the traffic will affect the center and its patrons.

“I’m pretty aware and everybody is pretty aware that it’s going to take a lot of tweaking,” he says. “That even if all the plans and all the signage and all those things are as developed, there are going to have to be changes somewhere just to take care of the realities.”

Klein says on a busy evening, the center has an average of 3,000 patrons who have had easy access and parking in the area.

But Klein’s main topic where a list of myths, that include that the center is “just a building” and that the state completely funds its operations and programs. Klein says the state does own the building and has paid utilities, insurance and maintenance since it opened in 1983. But even that’s declining.

“While the state originally paid 100 percent of the funding for those areas, since 1987 their contributions in absolute dollars has decreased 15.5 percent,” he says.

Klein says, adjusted for inflation, that amounts to a 31 percent funding decrease.

But the first myth Klein debunked concerns the Louisville Fund for the Arts.

“The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts is not the Fund for the Arts,” he says. “The Fund for the Arts is not the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts. What we are is a state-owned building and a leader in the commonwealth’s arts community. So, when you give to the Fund, you’re not giving to us.”

Klein says the Kentucky Center provides local arts groups with performance space at reduced rates. The Fund for the Arts raises money to subsidize the budgets of its 15 member organizations, primarily the Louisville Orchestra, Actors Theatre of Louisville, the Louisville Ballet and the Kentucky Opera.

Klein says the center’s funding comes from revenues, corporate sponsorships, foundations and individual giving.

Arts and Humanities Local News

Kentucky Center Dealing With Repairs After Fire

Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts officials are working this week to repair its electrical system after it was damaged in a weekend fire. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.

The fire occurred Saturday in an electrical room in the garage and resulted in the evacuation of 108 production and audience members during a performance of Improvapalooza 10 in the Mex Theater.

The Center’s David Holland says there was some smoke in the lobby and an elevator shaft. He says most of the power is on now in the building.

“Power is still out in the main theaters here, in Bomhard and Whitney halls,” he says. “And it is going to take some time to get the electrical equipment from the manufacturer in place to repair that.”

Holland says all the damage was contained in one electrical room.

“To the public’s eye, there’s no damage to the center whatsoever,” he says. “There was a good deal of smoke. There was some in the lobby and in one of the elevator shafts, but not enough to leave anything behind that the public is going to notice.”

Holland says the Center has ordered equipment to fix the electrical system but doesn’t know if it will arrive in time for this weekend’s performances of the musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. He says the Fire Marshal is investigating the cause of the fire.

Arts and Humanities Local News

Arts Groups Offer Discounted Tickets Again This Season

Some Louisville arts groups say they will continue a program that offers discounted tickets to many performances. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.

The Kentucky Center, the Fund for the Arts and its member groups launched the Arts Rush program in January. From then through the end of the season, the program sold more than 2,500 $10 tickets that were offered just before nearly 70 performances.

Many arts administration officials say the response dispelled initial doubts about offering discounted tickets. One is Kentucky Center president Stephen Klein.

“There’s always a little bit of a nagging doubt that we’re going to be putting these tickets out; they won’t be valued as much; we won’t have the kind of revenues,” Klein says. “But we’re seeing a lot of people we just haven’t seen before and that’s very healthy.”

Several participating arts officials say the program is helping build audiences, in part, by making tickets affordable to families with children. One is Allan Cowen, the Fund for the Arts president and CEO.

“Arts Rush is, at its heart, built on a simple premise: you make the arts available and you make the arts reasonable and people will utilize the programs,” Cowen says. “And as people rally around the arts, it will build many, many opportunities.”

Klein echoes that sentiment and says it hasn’t hurt the market for full-priced tickets, which secure seats in advance.

“Filling the house is always good — and a lot of the people who buy the rush tickets would not be able to go period, much less for expensive tickets,” Klein says. “A lot of folks still buy the full-price tickets in advance; they know they want to go see a show and they buy the tickets at the full price.”

Throughout this season, seven arts groups are offering rush tickets for more then 90 performances. Click here for a list of performances.

Tickets are sold in person on a first come, first served basis at the box office just two hours prior to the selected performances.

Arts and Humanities Local News

Artist Dodges Rain to Create 3-D Sidewalk Painting

Despite recent rains, a work of art has been in the making since Wednesday in front of the Kentucky Center on Louisville’s Main Street. And it’s scheduled for completion tomorrow. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.

British sidewalk artist Julian Beever has been working under and tent and using sandbags to hold off the water while he paints an image that features a bridge and tunnels for this week’s Idea Festival.Sidewalk Art 01

Beever says the rain hasn’t been his main dilemma on this project.

“The drawing is a bit more technically difficult than the one I’d anticipated,” Beever says. “So, just the first two days were involved in quite difficult technical issues, like getting the lettering right for that “Idea Festival” and these arches and the brickwork and the perspective.”

Beever creates his images by looking through a camera to see his progress and chart his next moves.

Beever says he does this to chart his progress and determine his next moves.

“The difficulty’s getting the shapes right,” he says, “because I have to draw it in a distorted way so that it looks correct when you look at it through my camera which is set up on the one specific point. So, getting that distortion right is the hard bit.”

He says the rain has been more of a nuisance than a real threat to painting.

Sidewalk Art 02“I’ve got a nice cover over this drawing, but the problem has been the water coming in underneath so I’ve had to fight it off with sandbags — but successfully,” he says.” The middle part stayed dry and I’ve been working on it.”

Beever estimates he has created 80 of these chalk paintings since graduating from art school and making this the focus of he career. Administrators of the Idea Festival chose the image that Beever is creating in Louisville.

Arts and Humanities In-Depth News Local News

Uncertain Future for Iroquois Amphitheater

Since 1938, the Iroquois Amphitheater’s history has included periods of neglect and success. The latter includes a nearly $9 million renovation eight years ago. Now, the economy has driven its major user — Music Theater Louisville — to perform at the Kentucky Center. That and other factors make an uncertain future for the amphitheater. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer reports.

Music Theatre Louisville’s production of Singin’ in the Rain nearly filled the 600 seats in the Kentucky Center’s Bomhard Theater during every performance of its recent nine-day run.

But this wasn’t the idea State Senator Dan Seum had in mind years ago when he got $4.2 million in the state budget to help renovate the South End’s Iroquois Amphitheater. Seum says as a South End resident he knew many people in the community wanted to see the structure renovated and used. He says the city had promised to help pay for it with one condition.

“The challenge came back down from city hall, specifically from Mayor Abramson, that if you want this amphitheater are you prepared to come up with half the money,” Seum recalls. “And I shocked them; I did.”

The city did match the state funding and in 2003 the amphitheater opened with its primary user, Music Theatre Louisville, returning to the stage.

Meanwhile, the city’s parks department wanted to boost activity at the 2,400-seat venue that was built by the Works Progress Administration and has featured the talents of Louisville citizens for decades. They also wanted to generate revenue to support it. Clay Campbell had worked with the department before taking a job with Triangle Talent, an entertainment agency known for booking shows at state fairs and other events nationwide.

Campbell says he knew the place.

“It’s a great facility. It has all of the potential in the world,” Campbell says.”And we could see that people were struggling with it and thought that maybe we could help.”

So, in 2006, the city signed a three-year contract with Triangle Talent and paid the agency nearly $385,000 to manage and book the facility. During that time the agency did book two nationally known acts — the band Wilco and “Weird Al” Yankovic. But by 2008 that arrangement wasn’t bringing in much revenue, says Metro Parks director Mike Heitz.

“We thought that relationship with promoters is one that would help us,” Heitz says, “but it just didn’t develop that way.”

What did develop was a recession producing declining public revenues. It caused Metro Parks not to renew its contract with Triangle Talent and raise rental fees to unaffordable rates for Music Theatre Louisville.

Now, with half the summer season over, Metro Parks still does not have a plan for programming at the amphitheater next year. MTL leaders have encouraged the city to create programming that includes other city arts organizations and rally the public and private business to make it happen. It’s almost as if the amphitheater is starting all over again.

Such a project is something managers of the country’s few small municipally owned amphitheaters understand. Susanna Nierman O’Neil of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, is one of them. For more than 20 years, she has overseen the management of the city’s amphitheater in Cain Park.

O’Neil remembers when it got a roof and reopened after a $5 million overhaul.

“We needed to have a vision for where we were going,” O’Neil says. “So, we started this plan: if we a roof on the amphitheater and then we mix and match with jazz, dance, local talent, and also at least four big-named acts, we figured we would be able to make it.”

She says the amphitheatre is operating this year with a $650,000 budget that includes $200,000 from the city and the rest from revenues.

Meanwhile in Louisville, the current city budget has $200,000 for Metro Parks to use for Iroquois Amphitheater. The city’s been giving tours to representatives from local arts groups.

Metro Park’s Mike Heitz.

“The ballet’s been there recently and looked at it,” Heitz says. “They really liked it. I think they’re going to booking some dates with us.”

Still, those dates might not include Music Theatre Louisville. Its executive director, Peter Holloway, says the company is working to keep its costs down as the recession has lowered its revenues. But he, like so many others, wants to see action on the amphitheater’s stage next summer.

“I just want to see the thing utilized and do well,” Holloway says. “And if that ends up having us be a part of it, that’s great. And if it doesn’t and it still works out well at the amphitheater, that’d be fine, too.”

Arts and Humanities Local News

Faculty of One Louisville School Learns About the Arts

This week, an arts education program will be training a whole school of teachers for the first time in its 26-year history. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer reports.

For the next two weeks 43 teachers from throughout Kentucky will attend the Kentucky Center’s annual Institute for Arts in Education. It includes seminars where participants get hands-on experience in how to use the arts in teaching.

This year, more than half of the teachers are from one Louisville school, says Jeff Jamner, the center’s director of school programs.

“The faculty at Lincoln Elementary will have 27 teachers going through, immersed in four art forms,” Jamner says, “which will really jump start them as they prepare to become the new elementary performing arts magnet for Jefferson County schools.”

This fall, Lincoln will be the school district’s first magnet elementary school to integrate the performing arts into core academic areas. It also will collaborate with leading arts groups.

Jamner says the institute will pay special attention to science.

“This year we’re going to model how to integrate the arts with other subjects and we picked science,” he says. “We have a field trip each on the fifth day and we use the field trip to show how the arts can be used to deepen learning.”

Jamner says the teachers will also study the elements of visual art, dance, theater and music as well as their histories and their place in different cultures.

Local News

Whitney Hall Stage Floor Donated To Charity

From WFPL’s Cassidy Herrington

Louisville’s Habitat for Humanity will uproot 6,000 square feet of hardwood flooring from the stage of the Kentucky Center’s Whitney Hall this weekend.

The Kentucky Center is donating the flooring to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, which will sell it to raise money for the organization.

Habitat for Humanity’s Director of Marketing Dale Douthat says the project benefits both his organization and the community at large.

“We turn around and sell those materials to the public, which saves money on stuff they would otherwise pay full retail price for, and then the money that they spend with us goes right back into building houses for our community, helping create affordable housing, which is a problem everywhere these days,” he said.

Douthat says the sale of the flooring could generate up to $20,000 for Habitat projects. The Whitney Hall stage is getting a new floor.