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Arts Day Brings Festive Atmosphere To Capitol

Artists, arts organizations, and other supporters gathered in the heart of the Capitol Tuesday to bring attention to arts funding in the state.

Credit Josh James / WUKY
Squallis Puppeteers mingle with the crowd during Arts Day at the Capitol.

Painters, wood carvers, musicians, and others set up shop in the heart of the rotunda to bring attention to the arts, but the most noticeable visitors were a pair of towering animal puppets mingling in the crowd. Inside the more than six-foot-tall owl outfit, complete with spinning head, was Shawn Hennessey with Squallis Puppeteers out of Louisville.

"Yeah, it's a favorite, and it's my favorite thing to do to make these puppets and then wear them," Hennessy says. "The arts inspire a sort of thinking nothing else can touch."

Squallis is one of many arts organizations that receive funding from the Kentucky Arts Council, which has seen dramatic budget cuts in recent years. Arts council executive director Lori Meadows says though their state dollars have been cut by about 42 percent since 2008, Arts Day is more about celebration.

"Today is really to show what we do have here in the state and what we're able to do and just get everybody to recognize that," Meadows says.

The Arts Council is funded by the General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts and operates with a staff of 19 full time employees.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.
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