Visual Arts

Kentucky Humanities Council leader to retire

Virginia Carter, who has been executive director of the Kentucky Humanities Council for almost a quarter-century, is retiring effective in August.

That month will mark Carter's 25th year with the group, which promotes Kentucky's history, culture and heritage. A search committee has been formed to find her successor and will begin reviewing applications Jan. 15.

Carter, 65, said she wanted to leave the non-profit based in Lexington to allow for fresh ideas. But, she said, the long lead time is designed to allow for her to help the incoming director learn the ropes. She said it is a complicated job.

"I love the Kentucky Humanities Council so I wanted to leave while I was still at the top of my game," she said.

Information about the job can be found at The job description calls for a "a strategic thinker with proven organizational and project-management skills, and have experience in raising funds for non-profit entities." It also asks that the candidate have at least a master's degree in an arts-related field, although a doctoral degree is preferred.

Formed in 1972, the Kentucky Humanities Council is an independent, non-profit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. It is not a state agency and does not receive state funding.

During Carter's tenure, the council has evolved from being primarily an organization that makes grants to being a provider of humanities programs throughout Kentucky. One of those efforts, called Our Lincoln, went national during the 2008-10 commemorations for the bicentennial of President Abraham Lincoln's birth near Hodgenville in 1809.

Under Carter's leadership, the council also started the Kentucky Chautauqua program, one of the its most successful and longest-running endeavors. Since it began in 1992, 490,000 Kentuckians have been reached by the program, which recreates historical personalities using actors.