Education

Facilities, commitment to the arts lands UK a summer program it’s never hosted

Governor’s School for the Arts at UK

256 high school seniors and juniors from around the state are are currently at the University of Kentucky for the Governor’s School for the Arts.
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256 high school seniors and juniors from around the state are are currently at the University of Kentucky for the Governor’s School for the Arts.

Thanks to access of facilities and a commitment to the arts, the University of Kentucky is hosting the Governor’s School for the Arts for the first time since it was established in 1987.

GSA Director Nick Covault said UK stepped up and is invested in the state arts program. And thanks to a push from Mark Shanda, Dean of the College of Fine Arts, the program that brings 256 high school students to a college campus during the summer will be at UK for the next four years.

“I assumed we had been hosting it,” Shanda said. “But we had not. So I aggressively worked with the president’s and provost’s office to put together for a proposal for UK to become the host.”

Covault said UK has provided facilities that have allowed them to take their program to another level. This was a deciding factor in taking GSA to the campus for the next four years. But Covault said it was not just their facilities, but UK’s commitment to the arts that prompted them to bring the program to the university.

“It’s the people here,” Covault said. “The staff really believe in these young artists that we are working with at GSA. They want to do everything they can to resource them.”

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Christelle Mutombo, of Louisville, center, instructs her afrobeats dance class Friday during the Governor’s School for the Arts at the University of Kentucky College of Fine Arts. Students were participating in “smorgs” on Friday which gives them a class outside of their artistic discipline. Alex Slitz aslitz@herald-leader.com

GSA “empowers the next generation of creative leaders in Kentucky.” They receive applications from about 1,400 high school juniors and seniors across the state. There are 256 students chosen to be part of the summer program, which has taken place at campuses across the state including Bellarmine University, Transylvania University, Spalding University and most recently, Centre College.

UK has academic programs in most of GSA’s main art forms. GSA provides courses in creative writing, dance, drama, film and photography, architecture and design, instrumental music, musical theater and visual arts. The program is ten hours a day, seven days a week for three weeks.

“Everyday they are in really intense and rigorous study of their art form,” Covault said.

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Kaylee-Jo Wilkerson, 17, of Bremen, left, and James Pinkley, 17, of Harlan, center, laugh Friday during the Cracks, Boos and Whistles class during the Governor’s School for the Arts at the University of Kentucky College of Fine Arts. The class gives students a chance to hear recordings of mistakes made in famous performances throughout history. Alex Slitz aslitz@herald-leader.com

On Friday, students were taking advantage of the facilities, practicing different art forms in the Fine Arts Building’s theaters, dance, art, creative writing and music studios.

“The way that that’s reflected in facilities and resources on campus makes it just an amazing home for a program like this,” Covault said. “We are dealing with students in a lot of different art forms with a lot of different needs, so we need a lot of different types of spaces. So a university that is able to accommodate that doesn’t come along every day.”

Students also have the oppertunity to dip their toes in other fields, engage with guest artists and go on field trips.

“We want students to step out of their comfort zone, to see what other art forms there are,” GSA admin intern Ally VerSteegh said.

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Matt McBee, 17, of Fort Mitchell, Ky., left, and, Camille Moore, 17, of Owensboro, Ky., laugh with other students during a ceramics class during the Governor’s School for the Arts at the University of Kentucky School of Art & Visual Studies in Lexington, Ky., Friday, June 28, 2019. Students were participating in “smorgs” on Friday which gives them a class outside of their artistic discipline. Alex Slitz aslitz@herald-leader.com

The grant-funnded program is tuition-free with students, facuilty and staff living on campus.

“I’m absolutely thrilled,” Shanda said. “I think the Governor’s School for the Arts is one of the premier arts enterprises for juniors and seniors in high school in the state of Kentucky. It’s only appropriate they be at the University of Kentucky campus and part of the College of Fine Arts.”

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