Lexington’s 1989 Fund for the Arts Campaign

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Ace, May 1989
In only five years, Lexington’s Fund for the Arts has progressed impressively to become a major city-wide campaign for raising money. The Fund calls on businesses to contribute to a general tax-deductible purse, which, in turn is allocated to 17 arts organizations who are members of the Lexington Council of the Arts. In addition, there are special one-time grant and Community Development programs for member and non-member groups.

In the first year, the Fund raised $204,000, but since then, growth has surpassed the dreams and aspirations of its originators. “The city government has made a big difference,” said Kathy Plomin, who is responsible for public relations for the Fund. “Its support has significant impact. Grants effectively double what we are able to raise.”

In 1988, Mayor Scotty Baesler proposed the first challenge grant to the Fund, and it was generous: if the Fund could raise $400,0, the city would contribute $250,000. In addition, if the challenges were met, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Commonwealth of Kentucky would add $152,000. The Fund announced a total of $822,000 for 19899.

The same challenge has been renewed for the 1989 campaign, but the Mayor has issued an additional grant opportunity to encourage individual contributions. If Fund for the Arts is able to raise $40,000 from individual benefactors, the city will grant an extra $25,000.

Gloria Singletary, Chairman of Fund for the Arts says, “Every day, we’re receiving checks, and I am extremely proud of the way this community is supporting its arts programs. They are realizing more and more that art is not a luxury, but a necessity.”

For the first time in its five-year history, the Fund has embarked on a workplace giving campaign, and sixteen companies have responded.

This year’s launch was highglighted by the announcement of the proposed World Trade and Cultural Center.

Administrative costs for the Fund are kept low, about 3.85 percent of the entire budget. Six staff members at the Council of the Arts work part-time for the Fund, which is housed in their office.

The Fund for the Arts is designed to alleviate the pressure on groups to solicit funds from individuals and companies, and gives them more time to spend improving the quality of their programs. It also combines one collective effort on a citywide basis to solicit funds, and reinforces the importance of arts to this community.

In 1988, Fund for the Arts:

  • began the program for Community Arts Development Grants;
  • funded a managing/artistic director for Actors’ Guild of Lexington;
  • funded the Philharmonic’s performance at Kentucky Christmas Chorus;
  • funded a marketing advisor for all arts groups in Lexington;
  • funded two soloists for the Central Kentucky concert band;
  • funded the Lollipops concerts by Central Kentucky Youth Orchestras;
  • funded a curator for the Headley-Whitney Museum;
  • funded a secretary, community outreach program, and art exhibits for Lexington Art League;
  • funded additional dancers for the Lexington Ballet;
  • funded more plays for Lexington Children’s Theatre;
  • funded a part-time consultant for Lexington Musical Theatre;
  • funded new equipment and costumes for Theatrix;
  • funded 50 additional performances by Philharmonic ensembles;
  • funded expanded programs for the Living Arts and Science Center;
  • funded special grants to nine organizations including UK Art Museum, the Singletary Center for the Arts, and Transylvania University.


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