By Ken Selvaggi WAVE 3 Vice President and General Manager
Our community should take a bow at contributing to the most successful arts fundraising campaign in the country. The 11% increase in the Fund for the Arts campaign and the nearly $800,000 in new dollars topped all campaigns nationally. The more than $8 million raised was the third highest total in the 63 year history of the fund drive.
That's fitting as Louisville is among only a dozen cities with a resident theatre, children's theatre, opera, ballet, and orchestra. People in our area have an estimated 4,000 chances a year to see an arts performance of some kind.
The future looks even brighter as the producing artistic director of the oldest free outdoor Shakespeare Festival in the country - Kentucky Shakespeare Festival - envisions a destination tourism model for that company.
If Churchill Downs with the Kentucky Derby and Actors Theatre of Louisville with the Humana Festival of New American Plays can provide destination tourism, so can Shakespeare.
It works in smaller cities in Oregon, Utah and Alabama and can certainly work here. The economic impact in Cedar City, Utah with Utah Shakespeare was $35 million last year.
Kentucky Shakespeare will perform before its one millionth student next year with its education program that has served all 120 counties in Kentucky and many in southern Indiana. Performing from May to October with theatrical performances instead of just two months in Central Park would not only employ more folks year round in the arts community, but attract tourists for a week at a time who will help us all gain a greater rate of return on our investment in the arts.