Save the Carnegie Center
By Bruce Burris

Yesterday I sat down with a planning group working to convince City Council to save the Carnegie Center from closing.

This small group consisted of staff members and those who have benefited from the Center's programs. Jan Isenhour, the Carnegie Center's Executive Director laid the ground rules early on: she made it clear that a defense of the Carnegie Center should be educational and it was agreed that it not take the form of a protest.

The Carnegie Center has a paid staff, and jobs would be lost. However, the discussion on this day was of community literacy programs lost.

As is true for many Lexingtonians, the Carnegie Center has impacted my life in many different ways over the past decade. My life in Lexington as an artist, someone who works with the disabled community, a business owner, and a neighbor, has been enriched by my involvement with the Carnegie Center and its programs. And let me be clear-it is the building and the programs together that make this center such a vital and diverse cultural and educational focal point for Lexington.

As an artist, the Carnegie Center allowed me to install a visual work in development. This is noteworthy; Lexington has few spaces for displaying visual art and no raw space for work in progress. There is a decided lack of the kind of arts infrastructure in Lexington that is common to many other urban areas. My installation at the Carnegie Center led to a fellowship from the Pollack-Krasner Foundation, and a successful one-person exhibit at the Braunstein/Quay Gallery in San Francisco.

My family recently purchased a home on North Limestone Street near the Carnegie Center. We certainly did not move Downtown due to the quality of elementary school education our four-year-old might enjoy. But all things considered, we decided to be a partner in the rebuilding of a Downtown Lexington that values education, business, housing, and cultural opportunities for all. We are here due to the promise and potential of a revived and diverse Downtown business and cultural community. Lexington is hardly there yet, and closing the Carnegie Center would be a huge setback for us all.

It is through my roles as a Downtown business co-owner and advocate for those with disabilities that the Carnegie Center has played a most critical role.

Latitude, LLC is considered by many to be the leader state-wide in providing innovative community supports for those considered to have multiple and severe disabilities. The Carnegie Center and Jan Isenhour in particular have encouraged many of those involved in our program to share their voice and vision with the larger community.

One of the artists in our program recently had a one-person exhibit at the Carnegie Center's Gallery. This artist is considered to have a severe developmental "disability," and yet during her exhibit, the word disability was never uttered. Showing her work at the Carnegie Center also allowed her to receive professional supports through Vocational Rehabilitation, and enabled her to receive a grant through the Kentucky Arts Council, making her the first artist with a significant developmental disability to receive such a grant in Kentucky.

Over the years, participants from our program have taken part in group art exhibits, poetry readings, and more at the Carnegie Center. Currently the Carnegie Center is a partner with Latitude in two significant pending grants designed to support people with disabilities in the larger community. As a business, Latitude moved near the Carnegie Center specifically so as to benefit from a closer relationship with it.

We also want to take advantage of all the business and cultural possibilities Downtown Lexington has to offer. As a business we believe in, contribute to, and invest in a Downtown Lexington that we think can be robust, diverse, and which has a strong cultural commitment.

The Urban County Council has said that if the Carnegie Center is closed, the library will pick up its programs; nothing could be further from the truth. The Library (though it does a good job overall) has been less than helpful to the population we represent.

The Library is a large organization and simply doesn't have the flexibility and openness that the Carnegie Center, as a smaller, more flexible organization, offers individuals and smaller programs such as Latitude. I hope I am making the point that there are significant differences in the services the library and the Carnegie Center offers this community.

Closing the doors on the Carnegie Center would be closing the doors on a vital, synergistic center of our community. It is a piece of Lexington history, an educational center for everyone from adults just learning to read and write for the first time, to children struggling with homework and authors finishing their first novels, and a place where diverse sectors of the community come together to celebrate the lifelong learning that is an integral part of life in this community.

Bruce Burris is a visual artist and co-owner of Latitude, LCC.

State Republican Primary

The finger-pointing continues in the Republican primary for governor, as U.S. Rep. Ernie Fletcher announced Monday that U.S. Attorney Steve Pence of Louisville will be his running mate. Hunter Bates, Fletcher's previous running mate, dropped out after an Oldham circuit judge found that he didn't meet residency requirements. State Rep. Steve Nunn of Glasgow and running mate Bob Heleringer of Louisville filed the case in Oldham Cunty. This week Nunn and Heleringer are taking their case against Fletcher to the state Court of Appeals, to argue that Fletcher never properly registered his candidacy.

The Farm Team

The Lexington Farmers' Market will open downtown Saturday, April 12th, 2003.

The vendors at the Vine Street downtown Lexington location will set up booths offering an array of locally grown farm products. Farmers' Market is open-rain or shine-every Saturday on Vine Street and every Tuesday / Thursday at Maxwell & Broadway, from 7:00am until sold out.

Bad boys

So what has author Chris Offutt been up to?' Glad you asked. His Pulitzer-Prize winning buddy, Michael Chabon, guest-edited the new McSweeney's anthology, McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales.

Unhappy with the state of the short story in American Letters, Chabon enlisted authors like Offutt, Nick Hornby, Michael Crichton, and Stephen King to contribute.

The Taxman Cometh

Tuesday, April 15 is the deadline for filing income tax returns for the year 2002.

If you're unable to file your income tax return by the deadline, consult a pro. requests for extensions needs to be filed by that same date.

Filing "valid" extensions by April 15 automatically changes your tax return due date to August 15, 2003.

Define valid? That's what CPAs are for.

But, please do not get confused, the extension does not extend the amount of time to pay your taxes, only the amount of time to file your tax return.

Post office locations at Nandino Boulevard and Lansdowne will have extended office hours until midnight on April 15.

Beaumont, Liberty Road, Henry Clay, and Gardenside locations will have extended hours as well, with curbside dropboxes, that will allow returns to be dropped off until 11pm.

Those returns will be collected and postmarked as April 15. But why push it?

To submit an advocacy/activism activity or event for Quickies, email, or