Gov. Ernie Fletcher and School for Creative and Performing Arts senior Kevin DeVries share a high-five at a Paris campaign stop when they learn they have Lafayette High School in common. Later, they talked about the arts in Kentucky. Copyrighted Herald-Leader/Kentucky.com photo by Mark Cornelison.
Thursday, the Herald-Leader's intrepid teen board went out stalking information from gubernatorial candidates, Gov. Ernie Fletcher and challenger Steve Beshear. That was really cool. What made it even cooler was that the arts made it into the conversation. But it was a little sad to see that both the questioner and the Governor were a tad short on complete and accurate information. Here's the segment of the conversation:
Kevin DeVries, a senior at the School for the Creative and Performing Arts at Lafayette High School, followed with a question that was equally challenging.
"I will be attending Indiana University next year," DeVries said, "and part of the problem it seems with all my friends is that there's not really an artistic hot spot in Kentucky." IU, he said, hooks its students up with the Indianapolis Opera Company.
So, "Is there anything we're doing to better promote the classical arts in Kentucky right now?"
Fletcher explained that he proposed $2.5 million for opera, ballet and theatre in Louisville and that Zev Buffman, a veteran Broadway producer, is now putting on plays at the RiverPark Center in Owensboro.
Well, the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville's voice programs both have newly minted deals for students to work with the Kentucky Opera in Louisville, and even before that, UK students were heading down I-64 to work with the KO on a regular basis. This fall, four UK students are working on all three of the Kentucky Opera's productions. One even understudied the title role in Turandot. What's more, UK has been talking to Cincinnati Opera about what partnerships they can forge.
Indiana has a world-class music school, no doubt, and being accepted there is a tremendous honor. But it's a shame Kevin made a decision without knowing what's actually going on in Kentucky, if that was a major factor in his decision making.
And we love Zev and the new flavors he's bringing to Owensboro's RiverPark Center, including attracting a steady stream of touring Broadway shows to build and a tech productions there. But let's not forget the Humana Festival of New American Plays in Louisville. It's been attracting international theater professionals and press to Actors Theatre of Louisville for more than three decades, where they see shows that go on to have global impacts.
We could go on, easily. And we would remind the Governor that while $2.5 million for Louisville arts is great, it's a big state with a lot of arts outposts from Ashland to Paducah -- the Governor's Awards in the Arts highlight that every year. (I will grant that we may not have gotten everything Gov. Fletcher said to Kevin from the story.)
Once again, it is great to see that with the few moments the Teen Board had with the Governor, they actually talked about the arts. It was just sad to see that the conversation turned on a fairly common misperception about culture in the Commonwealth. As someone who deals with the arts in the Bluegrass State on a daily basis, I'd encourage anyone who has that perception to take a good look around at the Commonwealth's cultural scene to see what's really happening.