Arts & Culture

Documentarian Ken Burns Making Film about Muhammad Ali

Mar 28, 2017
Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Keep Memory Alive

The late Muhammad Ali is getting the Ken Burns treatment.

The PBS documentarian announced Tuesday that he and two partners will make a two-part, four-hour film about the former heavyweight champ, who died last June. Burns, his daughter Sarah and David McMahon collaborated for a PBS documentary on Jackie Robinson that debuted last year.

The tentative plan is to air the Ali film in 2021.

Rhonda J Miller

A state summit with the goal of making the arts more accessible to people with disabilities will be held in Bowling Green on March 30. 

One Bowling Green artist, Michael Dixon, discovered that a disability can sometimes can steer a person onto their path in life. He found out he had dyslexia when he was in elementary school. Dyslexia is a learning disability that makes it difficult to read.

Dixon says he used to joke around when he was asked to read out loud in class, to cover up the difficulty he was having.

“I got teased a lot, but it really didn’t bother me. But I found out when I was in high school, doing artwork kept me focused on a lot of things. It kept me calm. It kept me focused on the pictures that I’m doing.”

Southern Kentucky Film Commission

The Southern Kentucky Film Commission is celebrating its first major achievement this weekend with two free showings of a Hallmark film produced with assistance from the new organization.

The commission’s president, Terry Martin, said he hopes the events surrounding the movie “An Uncommon Grace” will inspire young Kentuckians to consider a career in the film industry.

“We feel like this is a good location and we have a lot of people calling from Hollywood about wanting to do movies in Kentucky, basically because of Kentucky’s legislature passing tax incentives for movies to come to Kentucky.”

Creative Commons

A long-time television producer who made Bowling Green his second home has passed away.

Chuck Barris died Tuesday at his home outside New York City. The creator of “The Gong Show”, “The Dating Game”, and “The Newlywed Game” was 87.

Barris visited southern Kentucky often after marrying Bowling Green native Mary Clagett in 2000. He was also a supporter of the Bowling Green-based Orchestra Kentucky.

Music director Jeffrey Reed said Barris was always generous with his time and talent.

Ohio County Tourism

Ground will be broken this spring in Ohio County honoring native son and Father of Bluegrass Bill Monroe. 

A May ground-breaking is planned for a 48,000 square-foot museum at Everett Park in Rosine.  Ohio County Tourism Director Jody Flener says the attraction will feature items from Monroe’s last home in Goodlettsville, Tennessee.

"We have everything from his bull horns over the top of his mantle to the radio he used to listen to, to pictures and awards," Flener told WKU Public Radio.

Kenneth Hayden

Some state cultural leaders are concerned that a Kentucky arts agency restructured by Gov. Matt Bevin on Friday will prioritize commercial over creative value in the arts, diminishing their overall impact in the commonwealth.

The Kentucky Arts Council is designed to generate value for, participation in and benefit from the arts. Funding for the agency — which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year — is provided by the General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts. 

As the state partner of the NEA, the council receives matching funds from the organization to distribute within Kentucky. This year, arts groups such as Actors Theatre of Louisville, the Louisville Orchestra and Stage One received funding from the council. It also distributes funds to individual artists.

On Friday, Bevin dismissed all but four of its members and reduced the size of the council from 16 to 15 people. He also accepted the resignation of executive director Lori Meadows, although sources say she was pushed out.

In a news release, Secretary of the Cabinet of Tourism, Arts and Heritage Don Parkinson wrote: “The new arts council will focus on ensuring that Kentucky artisans have the skills and knowledge to develop and successfully sell their products.”

Southern Kentucky Film Commission

The cameras are rolling in Hart County for a Hallmark Channel movie that’s expected to wrap-up filming on Nov. 19.  Local officials are hoping the movie signals a long and profitable relationship with the film industry.

The film called “An Uncommon Grace” is about a military nurse falling in love with an Amish man.

Hart County Judge-Executive Terry Martin hopes it’s just the beginning of the region’s focus on a new segment in economic development. Martin says when filming began in October, it was the spark that led the county fiscal court to create the Southern Kentucky Film Commission. He says the benefits are obvious.

“This film right here, being a small-budget film, like one-and-a-half-million-dollars compared to the big budget films, they’re still spending around a half-million-dollars in six weeks in Hart and surrounding counties.”

Longtime TV Host Bill Goodman Leaving KET

Nov 2, 2016
KET

The Kentucky Humanities Council has named longtime television host Bill Goodman its new executive director.

Goodman has served as host and managing editor of the public affairs series "Kentucky Tonight" on Kentucky Educational Television since 1996. He also has anchored the network's election night coverage and hosted the KET interview show "One to One with Bill Goodman."

The Kentucky Humanities Council, Inc. is a non-profit affiliated with the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Goodman says he will work to "support the history, heritage and cultural environment in the Commonwealth" in his new job. He starts Jan. 1.

Goodman replaces former executive director Ben Chandler, who left the position on Aug. 31.

Lefteris Pitarakis/AP

An announcement this week from the Oxford University Press landed like a bombshell in the laps of Shakespeare fans and scholars.

The prestigious publisher revealed that its new edition of the complete works of William Shakespeare will credit the 16th century British poet and playwright Christopher Marlowe as co-author of the three Henry VI plays.

There have long been debates and controversy over whether the many plays, sonnets and other works attributed to Shakespeare were, in fact, written by him. The decision by Oxford University Press will likely further stoke the discussion.

WKU Public Radio spoke with Western Kentucky University English Professor and Shakespeare scholar Gillian Knoll about her reaction to the decision to credit Marlowe as co-author of the Henry VI plays.

Orchestra Kentucky

Orchestra Kentucky is beginning a national search for its next executive director. 

Darrell Edwards left the post with the Bowling Green-based group earlier this month after 12 years on the job.

Orchestra Kentucky Music Director Jeffrey Reed credits Edwards with helping transform the group, which began as a chamber orchestra doing about six concerts a year.

“When we hired Darrell we had just existed for three or four seasons, so we were in our infancy. He gave us experience and vision, helping us realize we really could step out and grow the organization.” 

In the past 12 years, Orchestra Kentucky’s annual budget has increased from $50,000 to $900,000. The group now does about 15 concerts a year that include classical and popular music.

Kevin Willis

The Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center is holding a town hall meeting to gather suggestions on ways to improve arts education.

SKyPAC is hosting the meeting Thursday, Aug. 4.

SKyPAC education outreach coordinator Joshua Miller says the goal is to get feedback from community members, educators, and artists about the center’s outreach efforts aimed at young people.

“What you’re investing in is potentially the citizen for the next 30 years of where you’re living. I think it’s just important that we pore into them, and create opportunities for the youth--as well as the community--to express, to collaborate, to be together in spaces, especially with everything going on in our society today.”

Miller says those attending will be asked for input on the following questions:

Stephen Jerkins/WPLN

It's an estate sale for the ages. Stuff belonging to Bill Monroe, the "Father of Bluegrass," is on sale this weekend just outside of Nashville. As the patriarch of a genre and of a passionate musical family, artifacts from his rise to prominence are in high demand.

Now, 20 years after his death, the Monroe family is cleaning out the closets. Some of the relics from Monroe's life have become almost priceless — like his Gibson mandolin, which he played almost exclusively and famously sold for a million dollars. But that's at the Country Music Hall of Fame, not here at the Monroe family studio in Gallatin, Tenn. The place is surrounded by horse pastures, and some old favorites are playing through the speakers.

As Monroe's "high lonesome" sound rings out, shoppers pick through items that are a little more garage-sale-grade. Hannah Fitzpatrick, snagging some deer antlers, says she's not even much of a bluegrass fan. But another customer, John Vaughn, is, and he's already wearing his funky leather jacket. He says it has "energy."

"I paid 200 bucks for it," he adds. "So now all I can do is pray for fall to get here so I can rock it every day."

Others throw down $10 for a mandolin pick with a certificate of authenticity. Monroe's old musician's union card went for $30. The signed portraits from Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard go quickly.

Emil Moffatt

The Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center has named Rick McCue has its permanent executive director.

Rick McCue was named interim executive director of SKyPac in May, after the group parted ways with Jan Zarr.

McCue is a former Vice-President and General Manager of WBKO Television in Bowling Green.

In a statement released by SKYPAC Tuesday,  McCue said the facility and its mission have been a passion of his since it opened in 2012.

SKyPAC is a 1,743 seat auditorium that is home to Orchestra Kentucky, and traveling musical and arts performances.

International Bluegrass Music Center

The International Bluegrass Music Museum and Hall of Fame is about to break ground on a new $15 million facility in Owensboro next week.

City leaders including Owensboro Mayor Ron Payne and Daviess County Judge executive Al Mattingly are attending the June 23 event at 311 West 2nd Street.

The property takes up an entire block in a revitalized section of downtown. It will have a 450-seat concert hall, recording studio, an outdoor concert area, gift shop and a rooftop restaurant. Museum officials say it will house "the world's foremost collection" of bluegrass artifacts, memorabilia and music recordings.

Peyronnin Construction of Evansville, Indiana, is building the museum. It is expected to be finished in 2018.

National Park Service

Imagine hearing music reverberating through caves or echoing across mountains.  This summer, an ensemble of musicians from the Eastman School of Music in New York will be visiting national parks throughout the country and performing in the natural venues.   It's part of the national park service's 100th anniversary.

The first stop on the tour is Mammoth Cave National Park in south central Kentucky.  Emlyn Johnson is directing the project called Music in the American Wild.  She visited the park in December to scout out the venue and test the acoustics.

"I don’t think I had ever been in a cave before.  I was just amazed," Johnson told WKU Public Radio.  "I got to play my flute in some of the big caverns and it was like playing in a glorious concert hall.”

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