Sights and sounds filled the state capitol rotunda Wednesday, all in the name of the arts across Kentucky. The event included a visit by a 'cool' puppeteer named Johnny.
Several tables set up in the rotunda either featured musical instruments, crafts, or fiddlers playing music for spectators. Then, there was 'Hippy Johnny', decked out in a face covering headdress. Johnny, with long hair, beard, and sunglasses represented the Louisville based Squallis Puppeteer group. "The Arts Council had me come out to represent Louisville, so yeah, I'm here to pick up my check from the Arts Council and get my picture taken and just hang out with people man," said Johnny.
Artists, craftspeople, and musicians all had a spot in the state capitol. Among them was fiddler John Harrod of Owenton. He says he used to participate in the 'Artist in the School' program, which allowed him to visit classes over the course of a full academic year. "I was able to bring a lot of musicians into the schools and also collected a lot of folklore from the kids themselves because they knew a lot of songs and stories that they had learned from their grandparents and you couldn't do that in a week," said Harrod.
Harrod says the 'Artist in the School' program was scaled back to a week or two experience.
Arts Day in Kentucky participants visited the capitol to bring awareness to the arts and encourage lawmakers to increase funding. Kentucky Arts Council Director Lori Meadows says the most recent state appropriation came to about $2 million, far less than years past. "It's been a little bit over $4 million, quite a difference, so we're seeing other states around the country, their budgets are beginning to go up and we certainly hope that follows here in Kentucky," said Meadows.
Meadows hopes an economic recovery will help boost financial support for the arts.