Laying the Groundwork

Project under way to provide
more opportunities for artists

La Grange leaders apply
for state cultural district status

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

LA GRANGE, Ky. (November 2011) – – An effort is under way to provide more opportunities for artists of every genre in La Grange. To encourage awareness of the arts and to better serve the community, a group of concerned individuals have decided to try to get the city designated as a cultural district.
This classification would include a variety of artistic outlets. Marion Gibson of the Arts Association of Oldham County thinks becoming a cultural district would “bring great vision to artistic events in La Grange.”
The Arts Association of Oldham County has joined forces with Discover Downtown La Grange, the town's Main Street Program, to bring this about. Members from both organizations agree that a “better way to serve the people is needed,” said Gibson.
“Basically, a cultural district is a designated neighborhood or area of a town or city with a high concentration of cultural amenities which draw interest for tourists and local residents alike,” said Ed Lawrence, Communications Director for the Kentucky Arts Council. The council oversees the cultural district certification program.
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear in May 2011 announced the creation of this program after recognizing the economic impact of the arts in the state. More than 100 cities in the United States have planned or implemented cultural districts.
“We’d love to become another Berea,” said Gibson. She is quick to point out that “we are not trying to complete or take away from what Louisville has to offer. But because of the cost of gas, great opportunities are missed by people who do not realize they have great activities where they live, as opposed to driving back into Louisville if they work there every day.”
“It’s all about building the community and fostering business in town. It makes sense,” said Linda Goin, Executive Director of Discover Downtown La Grange
Even though the Arts Council allows the Main Street program to adopt this as a project, said Goin, “The Main Street Program is no longer supported by federal or state funding.” If a town earns a new status by becoming designated a cultural district, the aspect of money becomes involved, she said.
While there are “no grants tied specifically to the Cultural District Certification program, we believe that if applicants are successful in meeting the criteria to be certified they will be better qualified for other federal, state and local government grants and private funding that may become available,” Lawrence said.

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