BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (News Release) – Arts of Southern Kentucky (ASK), which operates the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center (SKyPAC), presented a year-long review of the “state of the arts” at the center -southern Kentucky on Friday.
The announcement comes as SKyPAC celebrates ten years since opening its doors.
Since the renovation of Bowling Green’s beloved Capitol Theater on Fountain Square was completed in 1981, the Capitol, along with Western Kentucky University’s Van Meter Auditorium, have become Bowling Green’s premier venues for major events. performing arts, especially those from outside the region.
However, by the end of the next decade, it was becoming clear that the Capitol had built an audience for larger productions than Bowling Green could accommodate.
A group of concerned civic leaders, not only interested in creating a new, larger venue for the performing arts, but also in creating an attraction that would help stimulate downtown development, requested a support for such a center.
In July 2000, Warren County established the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center, Inc. (SKyPAC) to accept a $6.7 million appropriation from the Commonwealth of Kentucky to fund initial architectural and feasibility studies, to acquire land, hire architects and finance the first operations. costs.
With the support of donors, volunteers, and the county government, over the next ten years SKyPAC presented a variety of entertainment, invited thousands of school children to the facility for educational programs, and welcomed thousands of visitors from 30 US states and three foreign countries. .
“Everyone in our region knows what a treasure SKyPAC is. But it has had its ups and downs over the years,” said ASK President and CEO Jeff Reed. “I am pleased to report that since the merger of Orchestra Kentucky and SKyPAC Foundation, Inc. fifteen months ago, the ‘state of the arts’ in South Central Kentucky is strong.”
Reed highlighted many community outreach programs launched over the past year:
- SKyPASS: access to the arts for all, which provides up to four (4) free tickets to underserved Kentucky residents for most Orchestra Kentucky, SKyPAC Main Stage and BG OnStage performances. Partner organizations in the ten-county BRADD region determine eligibility so that only those who receive financial assistance from the Commonwealth of Kentucky can participate. In three months, more than 100 tickets have been distributed.
- Curtains up! which makes the Rita and Jim Scott Concert Hall available free to kindergarteners through post-secondary performing groups.
- Junior Orff xylophone set, where children learn the basics of reading music
- Youth Orchestrawhere middle and high school instrumentalists are exposed to great symphonic composers
- The Golden Choralea community choir for seniors to enjoy camaraderie and music
- Free meeting space for non-profit organizations during working hours on weekdays •
- Offer the main gallerythere and Carol Wedge Theater at ArtWorks and Fountain Square Players at little or no cost.
- Back Stage Pass Tours of SKyPAC to introduce the community to the folk art center
- BG on stage musical theater performances and lessons
Arts of Southern Kentucky also recognizes the role that diversity, equity, and inclusion play in this time of growth and strives to create a welcoming atmosphere for all.
Diversity Committee Chair, DC Clement, recalled SKyPAC’s original vision as “being the living room of the community. The goal was not met for all communities in our region, including African American, Hispanic, and Bosnian communities.
The committee is working hard to make this goal a reality with efforts that have included increased engagement with leaders in the African American community, increased access to the spaces needed to host events that encourage and celebrate a myriad of cultures, and provide more programming that would appeal to a wider variety of audiences.
The committee is thrilled to announce that Black Violin, a classic hip-hop group, will be performing next season.
On the earned revenue front, ASK had six sold-out performances in the past year for the Orchestra Kentucky and Main Stage series.
Orchestra Kentucky had the highest average paying attendance this season in its 21-year history.
Concession sales have also increased, due to greater efficiency that reduces wait times at events.
SKyPAC’s rental revenue is also growing, with several local, regional and national groups renting the facilities for meetings, competitions, parties and concerts.
According to Reed, the generosity of donors and sponsors has enabled ASK to make the arts more accessible to everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status or race.
“The community support during our first year has been inspiring,” said Reed. “With the support of Warren County, as well as individuals and businesses, we are able to make our facility a community center where all citizens can enjoy.”
Reed said community support has come in a number of ways.
In addition to Rita and Jim Scott’s $1,000,000 donation to name the concert hall, membership in the organization’s multi-year giving program has grown from 70 to 155 households in just over a year.
“Thanks to the leadership of Rita Scott and the hard work of our development team, we have seen phenomenal growth in our Elm Street Society. The group offers donors a way to show their support for the arts and enjoy benefits like premium parking at SKyPAC, quarterly private events, stage gate access and travel.
The ASK development team is also celebrating a banner year.
“Our fundraising staff set a record, raising the most money in the shortest amount of time in the building’s history,” Reed said.
Finally, the Arts of Southern Kentucky Foundation was established, which will help ensure the long-term health of the organization.
According to Reed, all good news means ASK has no operating debt and is on track to end the year with a surplus. Reed credits the organization’s strong financial health to the aforementioned support, but also to a business plan focused on hands-on programming.
“We have just under 1,700 places. There is a limit to the acts we can book that make sense, financially. During this time of COVID and other challenges, we have deliberately minimized risk in what we program. Instead of booking expensive artist programs that might sell out but lose money, we’ve booked events that will make money with smaller audiences. It is important that we have a workable plan; one that will guide us well into the future,” Reed said.
“Once we have a proven plan that works, the board will be able to assess future investments in bigger and more expensive artists. The organization needs to determine what will be financially responsible so that we continue on the path to strong financial health. For now, this is not a good business decision.
Reed also stressed the importance of being a positive cultural force in the community. “My training is in music. I understand how the arts can change people’s lives. I also understand that it is very difficult to operate an opera company without a significant subscription. We will continue to evaluate future opportunities to showcase high quality artwork while balancing financial responsibility so as not to compromise the health of our organization.
“The future for arts and entertainment in our region is definitely brighter,” said Reed. “We are lucky to live in an incredible community, where people believe and support our work. But we have a lot of work to do. I’m confident we have the team and a plan to do it.
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