, 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
  • I-75 lane closures Wednesday

    A reminder if you’ll be traveling on I-75 in Laurel County Wednesday — the state Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) plans to restrict northbound and southbound traffic to one lane just north of exit 29.

    July 30, 2014

  • 0729 John Waite for web.jpg John Waite to perform at NIBROC

    Grammy nominated singer John Waite has joined the 2014 NIBROC musical lineup.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0729 gray crash for web.jpg U.S. 25E intersection site of Monday crash

    A woman was transported to Baptist Health Corbin Monday following a crash at the U.S. 25E and KY-233 intersection, according to Kentucky State Police Post 10 Public Information Officer Shane Jacobs.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Laurel School nurses to stay

    The Laurel County School System will keep its school nurses for the 2014-2015 school year.

    July 29, 2014

  • POLICE ROUNDUP: Driver leaves scene of wrecks

    A man admitted to police Saturday that he was the driver in two hit and run accidents, according to London City Police Chief Derek House.

    July 29, 2014

  • London Tourism director up for the job

    Chris Robinson knows the challenges that his native town of London faces – and he’s ready to tackle them head on.

    July 29, 2014

  • Traffic signal to go up in Knox

    The U.S. 25E and KY-233 intersection will soon see the addition of a traffic signal, according to Kentucky Department of Transportation District 11 Public Information Officer Les Dixon.

    July 29, 2014

  • TODAY'S HEADLINES — July 29, 2014

    John Waite to perform at NIBROC

    Traffic signal to go up in Knox

    U.S. 25E intersection site of Monday crash

    Laurel School nurses to stay

    July 29, 2014

  • Cannon man indicted for rape

    By John L. Ross
    Staff Writer
    A Cannon man facing first-degree rape and other charges has now been indicted in this case.

    July 28, 2014

  • Knox grand jury indicts accused store burglar

    By John L. Ross
    Staff Writer
    A man facing several charges in connection with the burglary of Cope’s Market was indicted Friday in Knox County Circuit Court.

    July 28, 2014

Front page
Featured Ads
AP Video
Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast New Sanctions on Key Sectors of Russian Economy Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

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