The past few weeks have brought about some interesting Lexington arts headlines.
Lexington Ballet hires executive director: The Lexington Ballet reached, almost literally, across the fourth-floor lobby of ArtsPlace to hire the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra's education director, Joe Tackett, as chief business officer.
The ballet's board president, Michael Potapov, said, "Over the past several years, the board has worked to position the organization to once again become a pillar of the cultural landscape in Lexington."
The ballet begins auditioning for a new professional company this week.
LexArts cuts Actors Guild's funding: After what LexArts says has been several years of trying to work through financial travails with Actors Guild of Lexington, the united arts fund's allocations committee cut off funding for Lexington's only semi-professional theater for adults.
AGL had requested a $70,900 allocation from this year's Campaign for the Arts, a figure comparable to the theater's allocations in recent years. Actors Guild has appealed the de-funding.
That Actors Guild and the Lexington Ballet almost simultaneously made arts news in Lexington is familiar.
In spring 1998, a six-figure financial meltdown devastated the Lexington Ballet, which until then had been one of Lexington's leading cultural institutions. In 1997, it received more than $80,000 in the Campaign for the Arts from what was then the Lexington Arts and Cultural Council.
Less than two weeks later, revelation of a $20,000 financial shortfall prompted the Actors Guild board to fire all three members of its management team.
Both groups ended up initially shut out of funding from the Campaign for the Arts.
But from there, the paths diverged.
Shortly after its house-cleaning, Actors Guild hired Deb Shoss as its new producing director, and she quickly brought the troupe back into the council's good graces. When Shoss retired in 2002, then-LACC director Dee Fizdale said, "The LACC got behind the organization because it came to us with a solid plan that it carried out."
The Lexington Ballet? Not so much, as far as the LACC was concerned.
The ballet's management chafed at moves to monitor its attempts to recover. Officials had a stormy relationship with a consultant hired with support from LACC, and they vehemently opposed suggestions to merge Lexington Ballet with Kentucky Ballet Theatre, which was formed by dancers and the assistant director who were fired from the Lexington Ballet.
Actors Guild and Lexington Ballet are both still in business, but the dance group has never resumed receiving allocations from the LACC, which is now LexArts.
Nothing is black and white. Lexington Ballet did have successes in the ensuing years, and Actors Guild has had problems.
But the recent headlines show how much things can change over time.
The none-too-subtle subtext of ballet board president Potapov's statement about the troupe's latest move: We want to return to our former glory.
LexArts president and chief executive Jim Clark says the ballet has a way to go before it will be considered for allocations again, but that under the leadership of artistic director Luis Dominguez, the ballet has made strides in programming and presenting guest artists, including a collaboration with Dance Theatre of Harlem this spring.
The addition of a business leader and a professional company, reportedly comprising four dancers, could build on that.
Actors Guild also has shown ambition recently. It just wrapped up its season with one of its biggest hits: The world-premiere production of Kentucky author Silas House's play Long Time Traveling. And the theater has moved its offices into the burgeoning Distillery District and announced plans to create a second stage series and a cabaret series and to enter into an agreement with Actors Equity, the stage actors union. All of these moves have been cited as revenue-generating initiatives.
But all that was before the LexArts allocations committee's patience with Actors Guild's financial travails seemed to come to an end.
Actors Guild is appealing the decision. And even if it does not get the LexArts funds, leaders say the theater can continue, although after losing $70,000, it's hard to imagine that it would be the same type of organization.
And hiring new people in the front office and for the stage at the ballet is no guarantee of success.
But for now, 11 years after some of the most tumultuous days in Lexington arts, the toe shoes seem to be on different feet.