SKyPAC's Future

By: Sarah Goebel Email
By: Sarah Goebel Email

Everyone dreams about making it to the big screen and with the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center it could be possible.

SKyPAC will be a facility in Bowling Green, Ky., that will attract the arts from all over the country.

Area residents will be able to enjoy Broadway shows and large concerts as well as local artists without having to drive to Nashville, Louisville, or further.

SKyPAC would be paid for by the state and local donations and the SKyPAC board hopes construction could begin early next year.

"Every town needs a great cultural center where you can see the big stars or big shows," said Mike Thomas, with the Capitol Arts Alliance.

SKyPAC has been in the making for about seven years. The SKyPAC board first went to Frankfort in 2000 and was given more than $6 million to purchase land.

"A downtown location would really be a maximum location because people could go to the restaurants here afterward and have cocktail after the performances," said Elaine Walker, Bowling Green Mayor.

The SKyPAC board originally purchased land near Western Kentucky University, but to maximize economic growth the city convinced the board to relocate the project downtown at the intersections of College and Center Streets, and Sixth and Seventh Streets.

"I think it will be a way to attract more people to the downtown area. More businesses - more residential are going to want to be down here," said Brian Howard, a future Bowling Green resident.

Howard and his family are moving to Bowling Green and SKyPAC had a lot to do with it.

"We want to be involved in the re-development that's going on in Bowling Green," Howard said.

"I believe it really enhances the community. The ability to experience the arts is really a beautiful thing," Howard said.

Local organizations like the Bowling Green Chamber Orchestra will also benefit from SKyPAC.

"The buildings we have are not dedicated solely to the performing arts," said Jeff Reed, the Bowling Green Chamber Orchestra Music Director said.

Reed said the orchestra usually performs at local venues not equipped to host all types of performances .

"We've had to turn down wonderful opportunities for not only touring Broadway musicals, but larger bands and orchestras," Thomas said.

Limited space won't be an issue, SKyPAC will have about 1,800 seats compared to the Capitol's 800.

"As wonderful as The Capitol Arts Alliance is as a facility, as a great a service as it provides throughout the community could we go a little bit bigger," Thomas said.

Bigger in this case could mean better, but more expensive.

"It's a very scary proposition. It's a cost intensive proposition, but I think if the community sets their sites on something. This city has never failed to achieve anything that it wanted to achieve," Walker said.

We've heard concerns from the community about the cost of SKyPAC staying open when shows aren't playing.

The SKyPAC board said there shouldn't be much down time and music lessons will be available year round in private practice rooms.

We spoke with other Kentucky cities such as Owensboro and Paducah, who have similar facilities.

Officials in Paducah tell us the Carson Center has had an amazing economic and cultural impact on their community.

Paducah's mayor said The Carson Center was at a $130,000 loss last year, but the facility is slowly correcting that deficit.

The Carson Center project was started around the same time SKyPAC was created and has been open for about four years.

We're told the project board in Paducah was very aggressive in their fundraising and was able to get enough money to start building right away.

Owensboro's River Park Center has been in business since 1992. Officials there tell us that the facility has also been positive for the area.

We're told the River Park Center is more alive today than it was when it first started and it is not loosing money. The facility has had problems with down time in the summer months when there aren't as many indoor performances.

Both the Paducah and Owensboro facilities have between 500 and 1,800 seats.

To see views, plans and phases of SKyPAC visit www.theskypac.com.


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