Founder and Executive Director of GO Women (Greater Opportunities for Women), Inc., Frances Figart is one who believes in “giving back.” After receiving a B.A. in English from Berea, she went on to stints in advertising, editing, and writing. Figart started GO Women, Inc. (1998) “out of a desire to see other women become networked to resources that would help them achieve their goals” (www.go womenky.org). Serving the non-profit with no salary, Figart has succeeded in putting together a program of workshops and mentoring that has gone from graduating seven women in its second session to graduating 22 women (and helping out 8 others) this year. These low-income women from Eastern and Central Kentucky have used the program to get better jobs and improve their confidence. Go Figart!
It’s “all about downtown” for this local artist and businesswoman. Pat Gerhard believes we should “live, work and play” downtown, and in that spirit she runs Third Street Stuff (actually on Limestone), a place to pick up whimsical yet practical stuff decorated in her unique style. It is a style that can also be seen on Main & Vine streets, in the form of those colorful banners on the sidewalk and at the Civic Center. As a member of the Mayor’s Revitalization Committee, and a Board member of the Downtown Lexington Corporation (soon to be on the Executive Board), Gerhard puts her art where her mouth is. Those who enjoyed the Christmas Parade can also thank Gerhard for the donation of her talents to the Minds Wide Open (a community group promoting the arts) display. For her, it’s all about “fun.”
Even the forces that locked him out of his own building couldn’t keep us from commemorating Ross Compton, the musical mover/shaker behind Yat’s. The soft-spoken 26-year-old UK grad has brought some of the various, eclectic and @#$%ing great music in Lexington like we’ve never even seen; in his two-year reign, Compton’s shown us Les Savy 5, Dismemberment Plan, Australian pop groups, helped out all shades of local artists and labels, and even brought the Make-Up to Lex. He was a founding member of the 37 Collective, the all-ages community arts center; it was instrumental in the development and many locals bands and labels, and when it closed Compton brought the same spirit to Yat’s. Compton isn’t really a promoter, he’s a community arts and entertainment organizer, and one of the most potent forces keeping Lexington interesting. And he’s hard at work trying to form a community activist organization to promote the cultural, social and political spectrum of Lexington. If you want to help Ross Compton, email email@example.com.
With all those legislative duties weighing him down, Ernesto (Scorsone of course, but in our hearts he will always be simply ‘Ernesto’) has still found time to make a difference. And this time it’s not even his profession. Ernesto has lent his hand to preserving Lexington historical houses when he purchased Parker Place on Short St. “It was kind of a landmark in the city,” he says. “I think places like this are just jewels in the city. They not only enrich us in terms of history and culture, but are just plain beautiful to look at.” Ernesto has been in the forefront of a local grassroots save-our-history program; his new neighbors W. Gay Reading, John Martin Jr., and Karen Hollins recently bought the old house at 521 West Short, and converted it into a tea room and antique shop. As many local preservation societies are being forced to sell these properties, Ernesto and the others have stepped up to reclaim and preserve Lexington’s history. We can thank them now, or let our children do it later.
It’s damn hard to make a movie, and it’s even harder to get it shown. But Jon Shelton has been helping local filmmakers (and more) for years. His public access show Off the Air has been a haven for local artists-filmmakers, musicians, poets, everybody-to get some airtime since 1998. “It’s kind of an experimental video show in that its about anything. I want it to support the arts, and highlight events in the community. It’s all about empowering local artists.” Off the Air runs on various midnights on Channel 14, and upcoming shows feature Mecca’s Decembrist Uprising and the Roedelius/Spacecraft concert. Shelton lets us enjoy all of Lex’s best from our couch, a noble deed indeed.