Profile of an Arts-Supporting Community: Richmond, Kentucky

Mike Lawson • Archives • October 9, 2009

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Community leaders gather in front of the construction site for the Center for Performing Arts at Eastern Kentucky University.

One cannot escape the barrage of news headlines reporting that nearly everywhere, states, communities and public school systems are feeling the wrath from the harshest economic storm to hit the nation since the Great Depression.

Faced with shrinking revenues and higher operational costs, many public school systems have resorted to reducing or eliminating their band or orchestra programs while countless state and local arts councils and professional performing arts organizations are walking a financial high wire just to survive.

Although faced with many of the same economic hurdles as the rest of America, a Kentucky community of 30,000 believes its educational and financial commitment and support of the performing arts will have lasting economic, educational, and cultural benefits long after the current national recession is gone.

Nestled between the famed Bluegrass horse country and the rugged Southern Appalachian foothills, the city of Richmond, an emerging micropolitan area just 30 miles south of Lexington, is quickly becoming recognized across and beyond Kentucky as a performing arts-friendly community to arts enthusiasts, performers, business and civic leaders, government officials, educators and college-bound students.

Home to Madison County’s two largest employers, Eastern Kentucky University and the Madison County Schools System, Richmond is decidedly positioning itself to become one of the region’s up-and-coming performing arts hubs thanks to the now-under-construction Center for the Performing Arts on the EKU campus.

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