The Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts is returning to Lexington this coming summer in a new venue.
The University of Kentucky and the Kentucky Center for the Arts announced Tuesday morning that the annual three-week arts intensive for rising high school juniors and seniors in the Commonwealth will be based at Holmes Hall, the new residence hall at the corner of South Limestone and Avenue of Champions, and utilize the University’s arts facilities.
“UK offers GSA an amazing summer home with their high-quality arts facilities, impressive housing and beautiful campus — but even more importantly, UK brings a commitment to Kentucky’s young artists and a deep level of partnership to GSA’s work,” said GSA director Nick Covault, who is also a GSA and UK alumnus. Reflecting on his background with both institutions, Covault added, “This feels very full circle to me.”
The program was based at Centre College in Danville from 2014 to 2018. Prior to that, it spent 14 years at Transylvania University, also in downtown Lexington. Prior to that, it had been held in Louisville at venues including the Kentucky Center for the Arts, where the program is based, and Bellarmine University.
This will be the school’s first time based at the Commonwealth’s flagship university.
“UK is a great place to show GSA students that arts are truly valued in Kentucky,” said Heather Weston Bell, senior vice-president of community engagement for the Kentucky Center for the Arts and a UK graduate.
For previous hosts, having GSA on campus has been a valued recruiting tool to attract some of the Commonwealth’s elite arts students, and Mark Shanda, dean of the UK College of Fine Arts, said he looks forward to giving GSA students an up-close view of what the school has to offer.
Shanda pointed out that a lot of UK faculty are already involved in GSA, and having the program on campus is, “important to us because they will see our facilities, and see that the arts are important to us at UK.”
Those facilities include Holmes Hall, where GSA students will be housed, which includes features like practice rooms for arts students.
“Have you seen the dorms,” GSA alumnus and UK freshman Emily DeBold said at a Tuesday news conference. “They’re like the best in Kentucky. They’re going to be very spoiled here.”
Covault and Bell said the dorm was a strong plus for UK in deciding on a new home for GSA, along with its established arts facilities. Schools submitted proposals to host GSA, but program leaders declined to say what other institutions applied.
The Governor’s School hosts more than 200 high school students studying in nine fields: architecture and design, creative writing, dance, drama, film and photography, instrumental music, musical theatre, visual art, and vocal music. All students attend tuition free, with expenses covered by support from the Kentucky Center, the Governor’s Office, Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, the Kentucky Center Endowment Fund and Toyota Motor Manufacturing.
According to the GSA, 98 percent of the program’s participants go on to college, and 29 colleges and universities, including UK, offer automatic scholarships to GSA alumni.
The 2019 edition will take place June 23 to July 13. Applications for the program are now being accepted at kentuckygsa.org, and the deadline is Jan. 11.
Tuesday’s announcement, which included performances from a couple of GSA alumni, underscored the fact that a lot of GSA students do end up going to UK. But while she was excited that the program is coming to her school, lo her dorm, DeBold concluded that it didn’t really matter to students where the program is held.
“GSA is a community, not a place,” DeBold said. “It made me proud to be a Kentuckian, and proud to be an artist.”