A&E: What you wish for …

Compiled by Mary Q. Burton, Erin Clephas, Elizabeth Kramer, Ryan Real and Meghan Wiggs

Desire is powerful. It drives us to action, to seek romantic love (or at least pure sexual gratification). It impels the will to power, the pursuit of leadership roles. It prompts us to create.
For our annual arts issue, LEO held a seemingly simple desire — to know more about what the community wants for and from its arts. So we scoured the Metro for people from various walks of life and asked them: Identify three wishes for the arts here. We zeroed in on 50 people from Floyds Knobs to Fern Creek, from Jeffersontown to Jeffersonville, from Portland to Hikes Point. Nine-year-old Luke Poole is the youngest participant in our survey, and Willa Acklin Weathers, a retired teacher and poet whose wishes are informed by years of living here and being an artist herself, is the oldest — at age 103.

When it comes to wishes, many people want to prod our leaders to find more reliable funding for the arts, and urge leaders, arts institutions and the community at large to make arts a more integral part of our formal education curricula. And some wishes zero in on specific initiatives to showcase the art Louisville already has.
So read on, and think about your own desires in this regard. But consider that all wishes — whether of the shooting star, four-leaf clover or LEO pages variety — are more likely to come true when matched with effort. Making the wish is the easy part. Doing the work is hard. It takes money, sure, but insightful leadership — receptive to the community and passionate about its future both near and distant — is perhaps even more key. The same goes for passion and commitment from people throughout a community.
So, who’s in? —Elizabeth Kramer, Arts & Culture Editor

A secure, broad-based funding schema for all the arts in Louisville — i.e. The Partnership for Creative Economies delivers their promise, but the city hasn’t seen any actual advancement here. Also, increased and improved arts infrastructure — that includes continued growth and improvement in responsiveness from existing institutions, plus additional resources to build a business sector that is vital, active and profitable. Particularly in the segment of writers, critics and publishers (electronic and print) for reflection, self-criticism and challenging ideas that will lead to excellence as well as development of secondary market galleries, art services businesses, design firms and many other creative industry-related activities that will engage the community in a conversation about art as a mechanism to encourage sustainability, livability and civic engagement. (And I have hope and faith that youth will see this value as a directive for action.) —J.P. Begley • neighborhood: Highlands • profession: Gallerist • age: 60

Activities and programs to showcase children’s art and events to highlight and promote these types of artists. —Judith Bloor • neighborhood: East End • profession: Senior Vice President, Home of the Innocents, Childkind Center • age: 54

Access to arts education, hands-on experience and performance — regardless of strength, need, age or neighborhood. —Jenny Branson • neighborhood: New Albany, Ind. • profession: Music Therapist, Norton Audubon Hospital • age: 30

Louisville has a vibrant art glass community. It would be great if we could find a way to access and display these works in a more central location or festival. —Krista Brooks-Horrar • neighborhood: Wolf Creek • profession: Physician (Neurologist) • age: 36

More international music concerts. —Rebecca Brenzel • neighborhood: Highlands • profession: Public Relations Officer • age: 44

 I wish every arts group had a significant endowment so they didn’t have to worry about funding. —Ellen Call • neighborhood: Norbourne Estates • profession: Louisville Metro Council Member (District 26) Age: 40

Louisville needs more museums, and we also need to emphasize what we have so far.  The Speed School recently had an exhibit explaining engineering through art, but we couldn’t find space to host the exhibit for more than one day. I got hundreds of phone calls asking me if we were doing it again, but I had to tell them it was only for that one day because many museums here don’t have changeable or rotating availability. —Naira Campbell-Kyureghyan • neighborhood: Fern Creek • profession: Assistant Professor of Industrial Engineering at the University of Louisville’s Speed School • age: between 35 and 40

I would like to see a concert venue in the Waterfront Park similar to the one in downtown Chicago. (When they first launched Fourth Street Live, I thought it was going to be a more unique type of entertainment center. However, to me, it is just a bunch of bars and uninteresting stores.) —Jose Neil Donis • neighborhood: Jeffersontown • profession: Publisher, Al Dia en America (Spanish-language newspaper) • age: 30
More fearlessness and risk-taking in the programming of edgier, lesser known works with less dependence on the old chestnuts and bolder thinking in creating new works. I would like for Louisville to become a hub of new stuff being created. —Michael J. Drury • neighborhood: Downtown • profession: Producer/Artistic
Director, Pandora Productions • age: 45

A new, state-of-the-art facility to house orchestral and musical productions. Cincinnati benefited immensely after they built the Aronoff Center. —P.J. Duckworth • neighborhood: Hikes Point • profession: Engineer • age: 23

The African-American Theatre ensemble at the University of Louisville along with various church affiliated groups, the River City Drum Corps and other groups from West Louisville are doing a magnificent job providing opportunities and showcasing talented young African-American artists. I wish that the local media gave as much attention to the positive work by these young artists as they give to the criminal transgressions committed by a small group of young African Americans that are over-sensationalized and over-reported on a daily basis by our local media outlets. Also, increased accessibility and opportunity. I would love to see young kids, particularly those in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods, be given creative and artistic outlets to showcase their talent. —Brian C. Edwards • neighborhood: Northeast Jefferson County • profession: Attorney/Professor • age: 36

I would love to see the community art project revisited. It was a shame that the graffiti art project fell through, and I hope to see more attempts at this sort of thing. What a great idea! —Katie Flerlage • neighborhood: Highlands • profession: Speech-Language Pathologist • age: 27

Seriously invest in Louisville’s public transport infrastructure. I’ve never been to an artistically thriving urban community in the world that doesn’t have an excellent public transportation system. —Sam Gardner • neighborhood: Saddlebrook • profession: Graphic Designer, Brown-Forman • age: 34

A literary center in Louisville, something akin to The Loft in Minneapolis where a bookstore, a publisher, a letter press/book arts organization and a coffeehouse/reading venue are all under one roof. The center could house studio space at reasonable rates (or for free) for those writers who need a quiet place to work. It could also have a classroom or two for workshops, lectures, etc. Finally, this center would administer and house a literary library for scholars and writers. This town has great, under-appreciated talent in its midst and such a center would take advantage of that. It would also lend the city great energy and focus. Moreover, to have support for the arts from the top down — including the mayor’s office, Greater Louisville Inc., etc. — and to have this city and its institutions embrace the literary arts and fund them with the same enthusiasm as the performing arts. The Fund for the Arts, for example, doesn’t recognize literature or the visual arts. —Sarah Gorham • neighborhood: Highlands • profession: Publisher, Sarabande Books • age: 53

Louisville has a world-class and unique group of arts and cultural organizations, many of which have prominent homes in downtown Louisville. Building on the strength of Actors Theatre’s Humana Festival, the Idea Festival and the Kentucky Derby Festival, it would be energizing for our city and state if these groups collaborated with the business community to host an international, multi-disciplined arts festival in Louisville. —Craig Greenberg • neighborhood: Highlands • profession: Developer, Museum Plaza; Attorney • age: 34

One Internet-based source for the Louisville arts scene, and then for that source to be promoted heavily. Even a more detailed Web site about “who, what, where and why” for the arts. Because the Internet is limitless, the city should use it to provide biographies of local artists, to talk about how events are produced, to feature video streaming of clips of events and performances. —Liz Griffin • neighborhood: Clifton • profession: Marketing for BluegrassNet, an Internet Service Provider • age: 25

Tax incentives and zoning exceptions (living and working space) to encourage individual artists to live and work in Louisville.  —John J. Guthrie • neighborhood: Highlands • profession: Consultant • age: 33

More of a connection between the arts, such as giving people in the community the opportunity to buy an “Arts Package” that entails an arts pass you can buy annually and get you into the Muhammad Ali Center, the Kentucky Center for the Arts and art shows.  —Jessie Hosch • neighborhood: St. Matthews • profession: Account Executive, LEO • age: 26

A business art incubator that offers those services that are needed yet difficult for individual artists to maintain. Such a place would have a do-it-yourself frame shop; a couple of bookkeepers who specialize in small arts and crafts business; and space and equipment where artists can take pictures of their work. —Gwendolyn Kelly • neighborhood: California • profession: Artist • age: 43

Our community, both individuals and civic and business leaders, would become involved in actively supporting the arts, giving it the same place in daily life that sports and popular entertainment now hold. —Stephen Klein • neighborhood: East End • profession: President, Kentucky Center for the Arts • age: 60

The arts — all around — need to be promoted more. Everything is all tied in. In order to have things like major league teams, the arts have to be there. —John Kyser • neighborhood: Jeffersontown • profession: Jeffersontown High School Girls’ Varsity Basketball Coach • age: 57

That students — both in high school and college who are creatively gifted — be embraced by the community financially so they feel that they can stay in town and legitimately pursue their craft. —William Clay Marshall • neighborhood: Camp Taylor • profession: Assistant Technical Director, Walden Theatre • age: 23

That some of our art galleries would quit considering that things made in mass quantities are art. —Sarah Mattingly • neighborhood: Old Louisville • profession: Bartender • age: 27

That Museum Plaza comes to fruition — I guess it’s looking pretty favorable right now. No matter what a person may think of the design, it will be a piece of art in itself, and the mix of programs contained within will make it an exciting addition to the city — especially the arts center on the central island. It will bring international recognition to Louisville on several levels. —Darren McKinnon • neighborhood: Downtown • profession: Architect • age: 29

Greater incentive for and exposure of risqué, unique and cutting-edge works of all artistic mediums. —K.C. Mercer • neighborhood: Portland • profession: Magician • age: 23

Much more money and energy would be invested in encouraging our youth to explore the diverse array of careers that are arts-related and helping them understand how and why the arts can serve as a bridge between cultures and a way to enrich the world in which we all live. —Imani A. Muhammad • neighborhood: West Louisville • profession: Visual and Performing Artist, Vocalist, Writer/Poet, Designer and Youth Worker with The Louisville Urban League • age: 58

A landmark. Louisville tried with the fountain, but it didn’t pan out. I know there are landmarks such as the Twin Spires, but it would be nice to have something in the city’s landscape that is recognized worldwide — or at least nationwide. —Brett Mumaw • neighborhood: Floyds Knobs, Ind. • profession: Realtor • age: 31

That Louisville would bring in more animal and wildlife art exhibits. —Dawn Muncie • neighborhood: Clifton • profession: Louisville Zookeeper • age: 37

More inclusive, accessible presentations and venues that make musical and dramatic arts available to those beyond the usual artistic community and that bring us together as a community in the same way events like Thunder Over Louisville and sporting events do. —Joe Phelps • neighborhood: Highlands • profession: Pastor, Highland Baptist Church • age: 52

To be able to know more about different parts of a Broadway production. I know I want to be in Broadway shows some day, maybe as an actor or dancer, but I think it would be cool to be able to see what kind of things go on besides what you see on the stage. I’d love to see how they do the makeup for a show, or the see how they do all sets or the dances. —Luke Poole • neighborhood: East End • profession: Fourth Grader, Zachary Taylor Elementary • age: 9

We find a way to provide stable, consistent funding for the valuable visual and performing arts programs in our community so these organizations can focus on expanded programming and not spend their time worrying about funding. —James R. Ramsey • neighborhood: Pewee Valley • profession: Teacher (Economics), President of University of Louisville • age: 58

I would like to see Louisville hosting an annual National Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition. The show could be site-specific or theme-based and could be held in various locations around the city from year to year. Guest curators from various museums or art organizations from around the country could help give shape to the event each year. —Michael Ratterman • neighborhood: Irish Hill • profession: Artist, Funeral Director • age: 33

I would like to see more facilities that help children better understand the arts. If you get them started when they are young, then they are more willing to pay more attention to such things when they get older because they are not unsure about it. —Barbara Smith • neighborhood: Shively • profession: Farmer • age: 69

The University of Louisville Speed School should offer an accredited professional architecture degree. —Jill Lewis Smith • neighborhood: Anchorage • profession: Architect • age: 43

More affordable performance spaces. Recently I’ve become more involved in Louisville’s amazing community theater scene. With the rising cost of theater rental and the limited number of viable performance space, small companies are struggling. It has made it impossible for many small companies to perform in an actual theater, let alone pay their performers. Sad. Also, more coverage of the arts. Advertising takes a lot of money. The best advertisement is a good review from a well-respected newspaper. In all of my performances outside of the Louisville Ballet, I have yet to be reviewed by this city’s largest publication. This is not about me. It’s about the recognition of amazing talent in Louisville’s arts community by its own publication of record. —Delilah Smyth • neighborhood: Clifton • profession: Choreographer, Dancer • age: 36

I would like to see the Speed Museum get more classical and historical pieces of art. For instance, Renoir, Van Gogh, Rodin, Giotto, Courbet and David — just to name a few. Permanent pieces would be nice, but I would take touring pieces. —Erica Snow • neighborhood: Germantown • profession: Advertising and New Mother • age: 27

More arts and crafts places for families, so kids can stay off the streets. I’d like to see some government-funded places like that. —Latoya Stafford • neighborhood: Shively • profession: Boxer, Louisville Legends • age: 23

As Louisville Metro continues to grow more and become more ethnically diverse, a consortium of the international community should be formed to educate long-time residents and children about the literal and symbolic importance of the arts in other lands. —Michael Steinmacher • neighborhood: Middletown • profession: Manager, Louisville Free Public Library Branch Services • age: 36

For art to become more of a priority in our schools. Art is everywhere; our parks here are works of art, and there are buildings whose craftsmanship and architecture are art. Music, dance, poetry, furniture — it can all be an art form. There is so much to be learned from studying and being exposed to the arts. Our schools are definitely doing our children and our society a disservice by cutting back on art education. —Todd Stengel • neighborhood: Crescent Hill • profession: Contractor, Custom Construction & Renovation • age: 42

A self-sustaining source of funds that could be utilized by the arts community to renovate and/or expand existing venues and to provide programming dollars for the various art forms in our community. —David W. Tandy • neighborhood: Historic Russell • profession: Senior Attorney, Stoll Keenon Ogden, PLLC; Louisville Metro Council Member (District 4) • age: 34

I would love to see a venue other than the Kentucky Center that local groups could utilize for performances and festivals. Individually, we cannot afford these spaces, but if the city had such a facility, and could offer it to groups, we might see more. What a wonderful possibility for some of the areas being redeveloped downtown! —Christie Tompkins • neighborhood: Jeffersontown • profession: Analyst, Mercer HR Consulting • age: 42

Permanent performing arts groups should discuss creating a shared performance space dedicated specifically to arts appreciation and education of young people. In order for the arts to survive and thrive, the city must cultivate its future patrons early. Arts education is not a luxury; it is a necessity for an educated, civilized society. —Ed Vermillion • neighborhood: Cardinal Harbour • profession: Captain, Louisville Fire and Rescue • age: 45

To see children being given more exposure to poetry in school, especially in the early years when they can be encouraged to memorize poems that they will remember for the rest of their lives. —Willa Acklin Weathers • neighborhood: West Louisville and Hikes Point • profession: Retired School Teacher, Poet; Storyteller, Public Speaker • age: 103

Ultimately, I would like to see a shift in the thinking of the general public about the accessibility of the arts for themselves. Many people think that the arts aren’t relevant. I think there’s a stigma associated with the arts, that they are for a certain elite crowd, even that it is expensive to participate in the arts. Many people think that they are not going to “get it.” But art really addresses the whole person, a person’s soul. Through art you can learn about who you really are. Art takes us above the normal and the day-to-day. It may take people a little while to understand this, but they will if they see more art and, through a gamut of offerings, get what they need from art. —Kristen Wenrick • neighborhood: Langdon Place • profession: Director, Louisville Academy of Dance • age: 40

More funding for the arts in schools and programs for young children. Children are less exposed to the arts now more than ever. —Leigh Whelan • neighborhood: East End • profession: Homicide Detective • age: 37

That more people would come from out of town to enjoy Louisville’s arts and cultural attractions and, as an added bonus, they would stay in Louisville an extra day to enjoy the city and its many fine offerings. —Jim Wood • neighborhood: East End • profession: President/CEO, Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau • age: 52

All arts become affordable to middle- and low-income families. —Jeff Wright • neighborhood: Hikes Point • profession: Teacher (Science), 2006 Kentucky Teacher of the Year • age: 40

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