Here we stand, little souls on the precipice of a new year and a whole new decade.
And as we stand here watching the first streams of light break over the horizon, we wonder: "What will happen in Central Kentucky arts this year?"
OK, I'm paid to wonder that, so I might be the only one. But, as the New Year unfolds, I am really looking forward to the answers to these questions:
What will WEG bring, really? For several years, we have hear that the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, Sept. 25 to Oct. 10, will bring a bunch of cool, high-level arts events to the area. Some projects, such as the renovation of the Lexington Opera House in 2008, were billed as preparation for the Games.
But very little has been announced.
We know that Everett McCorvey has been named producer of the opening and closing ceremonies. We know that the public art project Horse Mania will ride again, that the University of Kentucky Art Museum will have an exhibit called The Horse in American Art, and that the International Museum of the Horse will have the expansive A Gift From the Desert: The Art, History and Culture of the Arabian Horse. We know that a downtown street festival, Spotlight Lexington, is planned, and that there will be an exhibit at the Games featuring Kentucky performers.
But are we getting big concerts, big-name artists? What will some of our leading local groups be doing? It should be interesting to see what comes to fruition.
What will happen to Actors Guild? The past year was not good for Actors Guild of Lexington, at one time Lexington's leading theater for adult audiences. Shortly after it announced plans to move to the Distillery District, sign a small theater contract with Actors Equity, the stage actors union, and launch two new series, LexArts pulled the theater's general operating funding. In denying the grant, which had been near $70,000 annually, the arts umbrella group said it had concerns about AGL's financial management and viability.
The theater then lost its artistic and managing director to other opportunities. Under associate artistic director Eric Seale, the theater has put up an abbreviated fall schedule and said there will be more to come in 2010. But what will those offerings be, how much patience will season ticket holders have, and will the theater be expected to carry on with one guy on the payroll?
Speaking of the Distillery District ... Last year, we finally started to see significant activity on Manchester Street with the opening of Buster's Billiards and Backroom, and several big events in the Distillery District. So what will be added in 2010, and what sort of flavor will the arts and entertainment district take on?
What's Scott Terrell really like? When Terrell was named music director of the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra in April, he immediately announced a debut season that he obviously had to get together quickly. Now that he has had a year to plan for 2010-11, we should start to get a really clear vision of what the Terrell era is going to look like.
Choices in music and soloists will be interesting to see, but what other curveballs might he pitch? Will we see the Phil playing in new, non-traditional venues? Will there be alternative program forms like he launched as resident conductor in Charleston, S.C.?
In 2020 ...
Of course, this isn't just the start of a new year. It's a new decade. Here are a few things to contemplate as we look 10 years down the road.
What will the venue landscape look like? A few weeks ago, we reported on the state of theaters and concert halls in Lexington and Central Kentucky, noting that very little had changed since 1980. Does that set the stage for major changes in the next 10 years?
We know that a new performing arts center with a 2,000-seat theater will open in Richmond in 2011. Also, there is a proposal in the offices of Lexington Center to build a 2,500-seat performing-arts theater in the current Rupp Arena space if a new Rupp is built.
What else could happen? Are there new performance spaces that could be built? Will anything close? What will the Lyric Theatre's role be in arts and entertainment?
Will we get a professional theater for adult audiences? For a long time, it looked as if Actors Guild was the best candidate to become a professional theater with a full-time pro staff, including actors and directors. Right now, the troupe appears to be a long way from that. So, will Lexington ever get a pro theater like Actors Theatre of Louisville or several of the pro operations in Cincinnati? Cincinnati Shakespeare Company is directed by Brian Isaac Phillips, who grew up in Lexington. Are we ready to give some of our hometown talent an artistic home here?
Which Kentuckians will the world be talking about in 2020? Entertainment Weekly named Owensboro native Johnny Depp entertainer of the decade. As movie awards season rolls in, Lexington native George Clooney is again the subject of considerable Oscar buzz, for Up in the Air. Butcher Holler's Loretta Lynn is set to receive a lifetime-achievement award at the Grammys.
For a relatively small state, we put a lot of people in the national spotlight. So who will be the pride of Kentucky come the '20s? Are they people we are seeing on local stages now, or maybe people who have made some noise, such as Oscar nominee Michael Shannon or Tony nominee Laura Bell Bundy, and are looking for their next big career boosts?
Fun stuff to think about, isn't it?