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Educational pursuits

Oldham County Arts Center
nears completion

Many classes, events planned
at the Crestwood location

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

CRESTWOOD, Ky. (July 2004) – Oldham County is soon to have its very own cultural mecca with the August opening of the Oldham County Arts Center in Crestwood. The center will become a multi-purpose venue for the Oldham County community and school system.
“We are hoping that we will be in the building by July 1,” said David Thurmond, director of instructional support, arts and humanities at the Oldham County Board of Education. The board purchased the former Crestwood Baptist Church property at the corner of Floydsburg Road and Hwy. 22 in Nov. 2001 for $1.6 million. The church agreed to lease and maintain the facility until Jan. 1, 2004, while the board used the facility for special events during this time.

Oldham County Arts Center

Photo by Don Ward

The arts center is located in the former
Crestwood Baptist Church building.

A certificate of occupancy for the 45,000-square-foot facility cannot be issued until a series of fire and safety code renovations required by the Kentucky Department of Education has been completed. The board officially resumed ownership of the facility in January 2004 and immediately began Phase I of its renovation project.
Phase I work consists of “fire, security, and safety code improvements and asbestos abatement. The building is receiving new locking hardware, a fire alarm system, a sprinkler system and other improvements that will allow it to meet local, state and educational building codes,” said Thurmond.
Once the necessary inspections are completed, Phase II of the project will begin. This consists of continued renovations and conversion of the remainder of the facility for arts and educational purposes. Amenities include a main stage theatre, art gallery, music, dance, drama and art studios.
Louisville architectural firm K. Norman Berry and Associates have handled the facility renovations. Berry and Associates have developed architectural plans for many Kentucky and Southern Indiana cites. Projects completed within the last five years in Oldham County include Oldham County High School renovations, North Oldham Middle and North Oldham Elementary Schools.
The firm has amble experience with educational facilities, having completed many K-12 projects within the last 15 years, said Steve Eggers, a partner in the firm. Eggers stressed the fact that renovations will be completed over a period of time, due in part to funding availability.

David Thurmond

File Photo

David Thurmond.

Dynegy Inc., a company that made a financial agreement to give $565,000 a year for 20 years to Oldham County Fiscal Court, is funding the project. Fiscal Court will give $200,000 a year of this funding to the board project to cover the cost of purchase, maintenance and operation of the center. Money raised through grants and individual contributions will fund the renovation project. Thurmond said this will be a long-range project, occurring in five phases, with an estimated total cost of $15 million.
The center will serve a duel purpose as a school, offering high school credit for a limited number of courses, and as a joint school-community arts education center. Arts programs will be offered during the day, after-school hours and on weekends. Classes in dance, drama, visual art, music and possible culinary arts will be offered for both youth and adults. Artists from the region will teach the after-school community classes.
“The district and the schools generally offer a large array of professional development, both in the summer and throughout the year,” said Thurmond. Topics range from integrating the arts into the classroom to training on appropriate practices in writing, to curriculum and unity of study development. The center presents the opportunity for Oldham County to provide an expanded space for these types of activities, since the current district and school facilities are overcrowded.
Programming and class schedules have not been finalized yet, said Thurmond, but the classroom annex is expected to open by August 2004. The center will be available for rent by individuals and organizations.
The facility has always been viewed as a possible, temporary home for classes from overcrowded area schools. One of these schools, Camden Station Elementary School, will occupy six to eight classrooms at the center to provide instruction for approximately 200 kindergarten and first-grade students.
A new elementary redistricting plan will go into effect in fall 2005 when a new school opens, Kenwood Station Elementary School. It will be located on the south campus just north of South Oldham High School. For the first time in years, “Camden Station Elementary will fall below 100 percent capacity,” said Thurmond.
Community input has been sought all along for possible uses for the center. Many presentations have been made throughout the community over the past two years, and a community survey was conducted to provide ideas centering on the kinds of events the community is interested in. “We believe the Arts Center will become one of the most important quality of life enhancements made in our community in recent years,” said Thurmond.
The center will also provide a permanent home for the Oldham County Arts Association, Oldham County Community Adult and Family Education Programs, many district professional development programs and Jefferson Community College classes. Thurmond hopes to have local artists’ work showcased by Nov. 2004 in one of the center’s five art galleries.
“We are in our seventh year, and have never had an office space,” said Arts Association president Mary Klausing. Klausing said the association hopes to partner with the center in fall 2004 to hold the group’s annual art show. A Paul Williams concert is also in the works for October, she said.
By partnering with the school board, the Arts Association can offer more formal educational programs. Klausing is excited to have this type of commitment from the board to offer to the students and the community of Oldham County.
“There are a lot of artists in the county,” she said. “And not just visual artists, but also photography, literature and dance.” The center will provide a new venue to display their works and establish a permanent center for groups such as the Arts Association in Oldham County.

For more information contact Thurmond at (502) 222-8880 or dthurman@oldham.k12.ky.us, or visit: www.oldhamcountyartscenter.com.

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