, Corbin, KY

Local News

May 3, 2010

Whitley Extension to tackle fine arts, community theater

CORBIN — By Samantha Swindler / Managing Editor

A century ago, the University of Kentucky extension program worked almost exclusively in agricultural endeavors.

But today, extension agents are bringing arts, music and theater to rural Kentucky.

“The traditional perspective of extension is agriculture, but extension has realized that they can play a significant role in community development and economic development, so we’ve kind of moved into that direction,” said Melissa Bond with the Whitley County Extension.

For the past year, Bond has been the horticulture and family consumer sciences assistant.

That position’s been eliminated in Whitley County so Bond can become a full-time fine arts agent — one of only four in the state’s 120 extension offices.

Bond plans to start a community theater program and rotating arts and crafts exhibits at the CMA Center in Corbin.

“The closest fine arts agent is in Pikeville. That’s three hours away, so it really gives us a broad base to boost fine arts in southeast Kentucky,” Bond said.

University of Kentucky Extension is the first extension service in the nation to create a fine arts position.

“It is a transformation and an evolution of what people think of when they think of cooperative extension,” said Dr. Jimmy Henning, associate director of the Cooperative Extension Service at University of Kentucky. “One-hundred years ago, in 1913, the whole extension was born to take the university to rural Kentucky. The benefits that you might get from coming here, we were supposed to extend to rural Kentucky, and it was built on a system of grassroots conversations — ‘what do you need, what can we do’ — and it has grown to what it is today.”

In the late 1800s, the U.S. government granted land for states to develop or sell in order to establish colleges.

Through this program, the University of Kentucky was born.

But UK and its fellow colleges were to be institutions for the new, industrial age. Instead of teaching classical studies, the land grant universities were tasked with educating students about the applied and mechanical arts.

At its creation, the extension agency’s primary purpose was to bring agricultural knowledge to rural Kentuckians. Yet its overall goal was always “community development,” Henning said.

In today’s economy, that also includes aid to local artisans and promotion of the arts.

“Extension needs to evolve and not just do the same old things. We’ve always been a kind of service that tried to build social capital within people,” Henning said.

The first fine arts agent was placed in Pikeville in about 2003 or 2004, Henning said. Others are located in Greenup and Mullenburg counties.

The Whitley County Extension board of directors requested to be the fourth county to create a fine arts position.

“The Whitley County Extension leaders have really stepped up to say ‘we think this is another way that we can invest in the community,’ and UK is certainly ready to do that and support them in this,” Henning said.

Bond has already been leading after-school theater classes at Whitley County High School. She hopes to keep working with the teens, and expand her theater projects to the general community.

Her first theater project will be based on the Whitley County Homemakers Association, which includes a group of women who meet weekly to work on traditional heritage quilts.

“The goal is to take my drama club at Whitley County High School and work with students in that to go interview some of the quilt makers who have been quilting for years... we’re going to take the stories and turn it into a play or at least a collection of monologues.”

The Whitley County homemakers have 15-20 active quilt makers and about 10 members of a sewing club that meet weekly.

“It’s becoming a lost art and we want to show it to a whole new generation,” Bond said. “We’d really love to do a coordinating event at our farmers’ market that will be open this summer.”

She’s also looking at doing a show based on stories about Colonel Harlan Sanders.

The theater will hold rehearsals at the extension office in Goldbug and performances at the CMA Center in Corbin. Bond is planning a possible performance during one of the Saturdays of the farmers’ market, which starts on the end of May.

But theater isn’t the only plan for the fine arts program. Bond said she plans to hold workshops educating local artisans on marketing opportunities and tax breaks when selling their work.

The extension already hosts bluegrass and old-time music concerts, and Bond hopes to expand these as well.

“I think the direction we want to go is really not just theater,” Bond said. “We also have so many artists and so many musicians that we want to make it an all-reaching arts program, a cultural arts program.”

Text Only
Local News
  • swiss officer for web.jpg Swiss officer spends time with Laurel Co. deputies

    Fabien De Lucia is a police officer in a two-and-a-half square-mile city filled with 30,000 people.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0724 Chris Robinson FOR WEB.jpg Robinson new London Tourism director

    The London Tourism and Convention Commission voted Wednesday to hire Chris Robinson as their new director.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Restaurant tax problems being corrected

    Fazoli’s is now collecting London’s restaurant tax from its customers after nearly a month of not knowing it existed.

    July 24, 2014

  • 0724 J. M. Hall, Donna Smith, Pat McDonald & Julio Cima FOR WEB.jpg Line-item resolution passed by Knox Court

    Several organizations in Knox County and Barbourville will get the benefit of coal severance tax money over the next two fiscal years thanks to a resolution passed Wednesday by the Knox County Fiscal Court.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • U.S. 25 work to begin Thursday

    A weeklong road work project for U.S. 25 in Laurel County is scheduled to start Thursday.

    July 24, 2014

  • 0724 TAYLOR THROW for web.tif Airing It Out

    After another strong showing at the Eastern Kentucky University Passing Camp, first-year coach Justin Haddix is pleased with what he is seeing with his Corbin Redhound football players.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • TODAY'S HEADLINES — July 24, 2014

    Swiss officer spends time with Laurel Co. deputies

    Robinson new London Tourism director

    Restaurant tax problems being corrected

    Line-item resolution passed by Knox Court

    July 24, 2014

  • Couple pleads not guilty to abuse

    A Knox County couple facing charges in connection with second-degree burns on a child’s leg pleaded not guilty Tuesday morning during their preliminary hearings.
    Tyrone L. Person, 22, of Corbin, and Sierra Shepherd, 21, of Flat Lick, appeared before Judge John Chappell in Knox County District Court, according to a court official.

    July 23, 2014

  • Evaluation of Williamsburg Superintendent postponed

    An executive session to discuss and evaluate Williamsburg Independent Schools Superintendent Denny Byrd was slated for Tuesday night’s regular meeting — but an absence of one member postponed those plans.

    July 23, 2014

  • 0723 Capt. Coy Wilson, Harrison Creech & mom Samantha FOR WEB.jpg Heroes For A Day

    This boy likes to touch a truck — or in this case, the Corbin Police Department’s K9 Vehicle that was one of over 20 trucks, cars, boats, a helicopter and other vehicles stationed Tuesday at Corbin’s Rotary Park for the Sixth Annual “Touch A Truck” event.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

Front page
Featured Ads
AP Video
Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase Obama Seeks Limits on US Company Mergers Abroad Large Family to Share NJ Lottery Winnings U.S. Flights to Israel Resume After Ban Lifted Official: Air Algerie Flight 'probably Crashed' TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans Raw: National Guard Helps Battle WA Wildfires Raw: Ukraine's Donetsk Residents Flee Senators Push to End Hamas Threat in Cease-Fire A Young Victim's Premonition, Hug Before MH17 Raw: Deadly Storm Hits Virginia Campground Death Penalty Expert: 'This is a Turning Point' Raw: MH17 Victim's Bodies Arrive in Netherlands
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter