Congratulations are in order to West Kentucky Community and Technical College, which last week successfully concluded a $2.5 million fundraising campaign for its Paducah School of Art & Design project.
The effort was put over the top with the announcement of a $400,000 contribution to the project by the Carson-Myre Charitable Foundation. The $2.5 million is the required local contribution to a $10 million project to renovate the former Kitchens Inc. building into a facility to house the college's two-dimensional art program. The remaining $7.5 million will come from the state by way of a new funding mechanism - agency bonds.
The bonds will be issued under a state program called BuildSmart Investment for Kentucky Competitiveness. They will be funded in part by an $8 per credit hour fee that is being added to community-technical college student tuition beginning this semester.
Under the BuildSmart program, each of the state's 16 community and technical colleges was asked during this year's legislative session to identify a priority project for state funding. The terms were that the state would provide 75 percent of the project cost and the other 25 percent would be raised locally. WKCTC identified the Kitchens Inc. renovation as its favored project, and is the first of the 16 colleges to successfully raise the local share of the funds for its project.
Renovation of the Kitchens Inc. building was the last piece of the puzzle for completing the Paducah School of Art & Design's campus in Lower Town. The building at 905 Harrison Street has 29,400 square feet of space. Work has already begun on the renovation, which should be complete by January 2016.
It will be the third building for the campus, complementing a ceramics, jewelry and metals facility in Madison Hall that was completed in 2013 and an adjacent sculpture facility that was finished a year later.
The Paducah School of Art & Design is a success story. From humble beginnings of 160 students in 2008 working out of an array of temporary locations, the school has now grown to more than 425 students this fall. The new, permanent campus is a great fit for Lower Town and for the working artists community that has been established in the neighborhood. It offers educational opportunities for non-traditional students such as local people who want to explore their artistic talents as well as traditional art students who are looking to make art a career enterprise.
The school is another asset in the city's economic development arsenal, giving students a reason to come here and live here, as well as helping to contribute to the growth of the arts district and the business it attracts. We again congratulate WKCTC and its supporters and donors for bringing this project to fruition.