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After 30 Years, GSA Still Has Lifelong Impact On Young Kentucky Artists

Kentucky GSA
Kentucky Center Governor's School for the Arts

After this summer, the Governor’s School for the Arts -- which is in its 30th year -- will have served nearly 6,000 Kentucky student artists.

During this free three-week residential program, select students intensely study in one of nine disciplines which range from dance to architecture.

According to director Nick Covault, it’s an experience that can offer many students a needed pathway to higher education as 27 colleges and universities currently offer scholarships to program alumni.

But, he says, it’s not just for students who see themselves as career artists.

“I would say that the goal of GSA is not necessarily to create 256 of tomorrow’s Broadway stars or the people whose work you’re going to see in the MOMA one day,” Covault says. “That will happen -- and that does happen -- if our focus is truly on developing the next generation of creative leaders.”

Covault’s personal story is a great example: He went to GSA as a student in 2002 to study vocal music, spent three summers there as an administrative intern while pursuing a double major in vocal music performance and arts administration at the University of Kentucky.

He is now the first GSA alum to serve as director of the program — a position he took in November.

The crop of creative leaders that GSA has produced so far have gone on to varied careers. This is something Covault says is important to recognize amid talks of cuts to funding for the arts and its place in the modern workplace.

“This summer, we will even have a panel of GSA alumni speak to the students who have gone on to be very successful in their careers, and those careers are not necessarily arts-based,” Covault says. “You can be a creative artist and still be a lawyer, still be a doctor, still be a teacher.”