On a balmy March day, the NeXt Ambassadors flocked to Churchill Downs. There were no bets to be made or horses to cheer towards the finish line, but still a flurry of activity greeted us at the track. Construction and preparationconsume the waking hours of the Churchill, which is a fitting similarity to the current status of our NeXt group projects.

Kevin Flannery, President of Churchill Downs, discussed his passion for the arts. He related his job and patronage of Fund for the Arts to “protecting the gems in this town.”  Flannery views the arts not only as an asset to life, but also as an outlet and opportunity for people to be productive members of society.  We took an eye-popping tour of the Stakes Room and Millionaire’s Row which are dotted with artistic touched that are designed to create an unforgettable atmosphere at the historic racetrack.  We also learned that if you ever buy tickets to the Derby and are told to pick them up at “Will Call,” you’ve been had because there is no Will Call at Churchill Downs. Good to know!

We heard from Matt Wallace of Kentucky Shakespeare about how he was able to rebuild and expand his arts organization thanks to a strong, engaged board with diverse skill set. Tonya Abeln with Churchill Downs discussed how her company has been able to provide the largest grant ever to establish the Cultural Pass to allow for arts exposure for young people throughout Louisville This is the only place in the country that has such a program.  So that is something to be very proud of!

Abby Shue with FFTA discussed our final presentations and how to begin the process of staying engaged in local arts organizations after the NeXt Ambassadors program ends. Everyone was encouraged to dig deep and look at what most inspires and intrigues them. What type of role will allow you to give and get the most? There were a lot of options given and it is something I think we all will be chewing on for some time. Go ahead and make a Board Match profile to get moving (http://boardmatch.cnpe.org/welcome).

Finally, several members of the Young Professionals Arts Groups came in to speak about their organizations and ways to get engaged with some of the legacy arts organizations around Louisville. Thanks to the representatives from NeXtGen, Interact, YPOP, Releve, and UpTempo for filling our calendars for the next year with lots of exciting opportunities.

It was a jam packed session and there is so much more to come! Please take this week’s survey and be entered in a chance to win tickets to the see the Louisville Orchestra: ttps://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GTXRCW8

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