UK will host Governor’s School for the Arts program for four years


Heather Weston Bell announces that UK will be hosting the Governor’s School for the Arts program starting in 2019. The announcement was given at Holmes Hall on UK’s campus on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018, in Lexington, Kentucky.

Bailey Vandiver

UK rolled out the “blue carpet” Tuesday to announce a new partnership with the Kentucky Center: The UK College of Fine Arts will host the Governor’s School for the Arts program for four years, beginning in the summer of 2019.

GSA is a three-week summer program for Kentucky high school sophomores and juniors, where students will study one of nine artistic disciplines, ranging from architecture to vocal music. 

Heather Weston Bell, senior vice president of community engagement for the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts and a UK graduate, made the announcement.

“On behalf of the Kentucky Center, I am thrilled to share the news today that the partnership between the Kentucky Center and the Governor’s School for the Arts begins this summer as the University of Kentucky will host the 2019 Governor’s School for the Arts program,” she said. 

The announcement was greeted with applause from the crowd, which included UK College of Fine Arts faculty and students as well as several GSA alumni. 

Bell said that Kentucky has “so much incredible natural talent,” and that UK recognizes the potential in investing in young people’s art.  

Bell thanked UK for rolling out the “blue carpet” for the event— it would never be a red carpet, she joked. 

Bell was one of several speakers at the press conference, which was emceed by UK professor of voice Everett McCorvey. GSA Director Nick Covault spoke next; Covault is both a GSA and a UK alumnus. 

Covault said UK’s hosting of the GSA program brings things “full circle” for him as an alumnus of both. He encouraged current high school students to fill out the GSA application, which is currently open. 

“We look forward to seeing you in the summer, and go Cats!” he said in closing. 

UK Provost David Blackwell spoke next, and he mentioned that as provost, he gets a lot of phone calls and has to make a lot of hard decisions.

“I remember the day I got the phone call from Dean Shanda about would the university be interested in hosting GSA, and it was about a minute and 30 seconds later that I said yes, we will support it,” he said. “You don’t get many no-brainer decisions in this job, so that was a happy day for me. I am really happing that we are hosting GSA.” 

UK College of Fine Arts Dean Mark Shanda and Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet Deputy Secretary Regina Stivers also spoke.

The final speaker of the event was UK theatre and arts administration freshman Emily DeBold, a recent GSA alumna. 

DeBold began her remarks by saying “Hey, GSA!” She received a chorus of “Hey!” from other GSA alumni in the audience, some of whom were sporting GSA t-shirts. 

DeBold said that it was while at GSA that she decided to attend UK, inspired by Covault’s experience majoring in arts administration at UK.

“I guess I picked the right place to go to school, since they’re [UK] going to house the program now,” she said. 

DeBold shares another characteristic with future GSA participants: She currently lives in Holmes Hall, which is where the approximately 200 high school students will stay next summer. 

“Have you seen the dorms? They’re like the best in all of Kentucky,” she said. “They’re going to be very spoiled here, the next class.”

DeBold said that while she is “beyond excited” that UK is the new host of GSA, it doesn’t really matter where GSA is held. 

“GSA is a community, it’s not a place,” she said. “It’s the people who yell ‘Hey GSA!’ at me when I walk around campus. It’s a big campus, but GSA makes it feel small.”

The event began and concluded with songs performed by UK students and accompanied on piano by UK vocal coach Tedrin Blair Lindsay. Both students are pursuing a B.M. in vocal performance in the music theatre certificate program. Cooper Fitch, a UK junior and a 2014 GSA alumnus, began the event with a song, while Houston Tyrrell, a UK sophomore and a 2015 GSA alumnus, closed the event.