Patrons await the start of a Kentucky HeadHunters concert at the Plaza Theatre in 2009, which served as a fundraiser for the theater. The location is at the heart of a push to develop a cultural arts district in downtown Glasgow.

Glasgow has taken the first step toward becoming a cultural district.

The city applied for the designation through the Plaza Theatre with the Kentucky Arts Council.

The Kentucky Cultural District Certification Program is a new state program begun by Gov. Steve Beshear less than a month ago.

“The Kentucky Cultural District Certification Program will build on the existing arts infrastructure in the commonwealth and capitalize on those qualities that make Kentucky unique,” said Chris Cathers, program branch manager with the Kentucky Arts Council.

Glasgow has filed its intent to apply form. Receiving the designation will help showcase the community as having a strong arts component, said Steve Jones, executive director of the Plaza Theatre.

“We also get to leverage the marketing and brand of the Kentucky Arts Council and the state’s support,” Jones said. “In the long run, it will hopefully make Glasgow an even more attractive place for potential residents and businesses to show our community how vital and important the arts are to what we do.”

To be considered as a cultural district the city must have a partnership with a 501c3 organization or a non-profit organization.

“The city of Glasgow, through the Plaza, is in the process of setting up a partnership with the Far Off Broadway Players, which will act as the 501c3,” he said “We are also in the process of assembling the required steering committee to oversee the application process as well as the annual self-assessment that must be done to remain ‘accredited.’”

FOBP has not officially agreed to be the city’s 501c3 partner, but is expected to discuss the issue at its July 19 board of directors meeting, according to Denise Williams, president of the acting group.  

Joining Glasgow in applying for the cultural district designation is Horse Cave.

Horse Cave, along with Berea and Maysville, were chosen by the Kentucky Arts Council as pilot programs in 2008 to determine best practices for what the governor has recently announced as the cultural district program, said Ken Russell with the Horse Cave Development Corporation.

Horse Cave, Berea and Maysville each had something different to bring to the program as far as size/population, income level, existing arts/tourism organizations, venues, local funding, taxing districts and politics, Russell said.

Horse Cave was the smallest of the three cities chosen for the pilot project and has the least funding with which to work but represents all the small cities throughout the state that have historical, arts, crafts and cultural opportunities in their communities, he said.

“Based upon the final reports from the three cities, the Kentucky Arts Council wrote guidelines that Gov. Beshear recently announced as the ‘Kentucky Cultural District Designation’ program,” Russell said.

In 2008 the Horse Cave Development Corporation received $35,938 to develop the cultural district.

Some of the projects the money was used for included a July Fourth Celebration, the showcasing of artwork during the Deaf Festival, the display of art during the city’s annual Heritage Festival and to fund musical performances at Kentucky Repertory Theater on Tuesday nights, Russell said.

The final deadline for the full application for cities interested in applying has not been set by the Kentucky Arts Council, but is thought to take place in the fall.

There are no funds attached to receiving the designation at the present time. The Kentucky Arts Council will submit an application to the National Endowment for the Arts for the Our Town Grant when applications open up next year, Cathers said.

 “If funds are awarded to the Kentucky Arts Council, those funds will be utilized for the cultural districts program,” he said.

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