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Local arts & community leaders curate new event series in Greater Louisville neighborhoods. It starts this month

D.E.S.T.I.N.E.D. Dance Company.
Courtesy the artists
D.E.S.T.I.N.E.D. Dance Company.

On Feb. 21, Central High School in west Louisville will be the venue for an event featuring artists from the area. Organizers said it’s “made by the neighborhood for the neighborhood.” 

The lineup includes AMPED, Keen Dance Theatre, LaNita Rocknettes School of Dance, River City Drum Corps, Shawn Wade and Artistry of a Dreamer, and special guest artist Grammy-Award-winning jazz bassist Christian McBride.  

Harlina Trumbo, artistic director of LaNita Rocknettes, said at the event, people will experience dramatic readings, drumming, lots of dancing, intergenerational acts, “a chronology of us as a people starting in Africa.” 

“And that our story continues. There is still the struggle. But there is still the joy that we as a people have,” Trumbo said. “So as we look at our story being portrayed on stage through dance, music and song, and spoken word, we will begin to understand how our art has evolved, how our art teaches, how art is our moral compass.”

It will also be a lot of fun, she added.

The Feb. 21 event, which also includes vendors and live painting, is the first in a series of performances around Louisville getting financial backing from, and co-presented by, Fund for the Arts

The Fund announced ‘Arts in Neighborhoods’ Wednesday. 

The new initiative is an evolution of the nonprofit’s Arts Showcase, an annual event that usually occurs early in the calendar year as a way to recognize and celebrate artists from the region. It also marked the start of the Fund’s fundraising campaign for the year. 

“As we look towards the future of a unified city where all of us see ourselves represented in the arts, the importance of pivoting from a one-time event in a central location to a series of monthly events happening in neighborhoods across our city became clear,” Fund for the Arts president and CEO Andre Kimo Stone Guess said in a news release. 

Kate Gipson, director of strategic initiatives at Fund for the Arts, told WFPL the evolution of the Arts Showcase into Arts in Neighborhoods felt necessary. 

“There's a lot of art happening [around Louisville], let's make sure that we're supporting it, that we're nurturing it, that we're empowering the community in this city, to see itself as a city, and a city where art thrives, and where our communities thrive because of art,” Gipson said. 

The initial round of Arts in Neighborhoods events will be in west Louisville, south Louisville, east Louisville and Southern Indiana, according to the news release. 

Gipson said the Fund will provide a “seed budget” for each event, ranging from $5,000 - $10,000, as financial support for the production of the events and to ensure they can stay free for audiences. Fund for the Arts has also been seeking sponsorships, and they’ve recently gotten additional donations.

Each event is intended to be a collaboration of artists and civic and community leaders.

“I think the possibilities and the variables for what Arts in Neighborhoods events can be in the future is kind of endless,” Gipson said. “Because every different group of people is going to imagine a sort of different way for this to look, and the timing and what's happening in the world is going to impact it… and the location is going to impact it.”

Trumbo stressed that these artists and arts groups have already been putting on shows and sharing their art with their community for decades.  

“Yes, this is a new initiative for the Fund for the Arts… to have the support and the seed funding at the beginning there is most helpful,” Trumbo said. “So we are excited about it, but it is something that is not totally brand new to what we’re doing in west Louisville.” 

The Feb. 21 event, titled “I Am Because We Are,” also features D.E.S.T.I.N.E.D. Dance Company, Redline Performing Arts, and Rheonna Thornton's Lipstick Wars Poetry. It begins at 6 p.m., and masks are required for audience members over the age of 2.

All of the Arts in Neighborhood events are free of charge and open to the public. The Fund will release information about other events at a later date.