From Elizabeth Cherry Siebert
LG&E and KU’s Fund for the Arts campaign coordinator
Board member, Kentucky Shakespeare
If you’re like me, it’s easy to forget how fortunate we are in Kentucky when it comes to the wealth of opportunities we have in experiencing art. Community traditions have always included brilliant winter performances of The Nutcracker, spring premieres of new American plays and summer nights with free Shakespeare under the stars. Children from every county have grown up riding yellow school buses on field trips to the Kentucky Center, and across the state, children learn confidence, expression and conflict resolution on stages, in ensembles and art studios. While these experiences are engrained in our collective memories and our lives, not every community in America is so lucky. I support the Fund for the Arts through my company’s employee-giving program because, like you, I want to continue living in a community where the arts flourish in every season of the year.
I started performing theatre on stage when I was 16 and studied to be a professional theatre director, but my path changed and now I enjoy the arts as a spectator and advocate. Yet even today when travelling across the country, I am repeatedly asked how and why Kentucky has become such a great place for the arts. The answer to me is simple. Kentucky is the heart of the country. It is the “Gateway to the South,” a stopping place for explorers like Lewis and Clark and a pivot-point for touring performers and Broadway shows. It is because of who we are and where we are located that the people of Kentucky are creative, strong and resilient – which is why our arts community is creative, strong and resilient. But, more than that, it is because of the Fund for the Arts that our community is so rich in the arts. Since 1949, the Fund has stepped in when arts groups struggled, when new arts groups were blooming, when economic times were hard and donations may have wavered. The arts need to be nourished to survive, and the Fund for the Arts, as the oldest unified arts fund in the country, needs your support. Not just once a year for tax deductions or a ticket sale, but year-round.
At LG&E and KU, where I’m the employee-giving coordinator, our employees donate via each paycheck, any amount of their choosing. Those easy payroll deductions give to the arts 26 times a year. That means every two weeks, our contributions to the arts community flow to the Fund for the Arts, and then the Fund ensures that arts groups continue to thrive. LG&E and KU’s Chief Operating Officer Paul Thompson is the Fund for the Arts Campaign Chair this year, and he fully recognizes that the arts make a stronger, more vibrant community. Today’s employees are putting a larger emphasis on quality of life when they choose a city to live in and a company to work for — so if your company doesn’t already have an employee-giving program that supports the Fund for the Arts, ask for it. Let your employers know that you will contribute. Even just a dollar a pay period, multiplied by every pay period, multiplied by every one of you reading this, can add up to a huge amount of money to keep the music flowing and the applause going in Kentucky. Let’s work together to keep the arts culture and our community traditions strong for generations to come.