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Fire repairs finished at Kentucky Center, ‘back and better than before’ with new name and upgrades

Updated: Nov. 26, 2019 at 5:33 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A year and a half after a massive fire at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts, repairs are finally finished.

In June 2018, flames ripped through the roof and smoke flooded the inside of the performance facility.

"To see this iconic building on fire was heartbreaking, it felt like my home was on fire, to be honest with you,” said Kentucky Center President Kim Baker.

It was a spark from a metal grinder that ignited the fire, causing $11 million in damage and a long construction project. For nearly a year, scaffolding took up most of the lobby and crews were hard at work in between shows.

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There was a big announcement at the center Tuesday to show off the finished work and celebrate a name change.

The venue’s new name, The Kentucky Center on Main Street, was announced to better reflect the expanding presence of the performing arts in the community. The new umbrella organization, Kentucky Performing Arts, will oversee The Kentucky Center, the Brown Theater on Broadway as well as Old Forester’s Paristown Hall.

“We have recently referred to our organization as a ‘family of venues’ and this new name and brand better reflect that identity,” Baker said. “With the fire damage and the building repairs now completed, we are excited to start a new chapter in our history with a new name and soon, a new look, along with an exciting schedule of shows and programs this fall and winter.”

The space will be fully renovated by January. Carpeting and a new box office are in the works now.

“There were tears of joy because this is our home,” said Leslie Broecker with Broadway Across America. “It’s the home of great art and so many people. I mean, it’s the Kentucky Center for the Arts, so we all own it and we all love it.”

In its second act, the Kentucky Center is not just back to normal, it’s better than it was before.

“When people come in, they definitely are going to remember the center, but it will feel different, its more open,” Baker said. “It’s more inviting.”

"We’re very excited to be back, we’re very excited for what’s to come next and for us to continue into the future together,” said Idris Goodwin with Stage One Family Theatre.

Triumph was waiting in the wings through all the tragedy.

"When the fire happened, I think what it did was it showed how much the community really cared for and loved this building and the things that happen here,” Baker said.

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