Since opening its doors in late July, the Kentucky West Arts Center has hosted several events -- gospel nights, community jam sessions and music education programs, among others -- and is regularly drawing a crowd in Kevil.

"We developed the Kentucky West Arts Center to give the people of the western counties an opportunity for a community people with a common cause to promote the music and arts of western Kentucky and make our community a better place to live," said Tim Batts, the center's executive director.

The idea hit Batts in May and quickly matured into a possibility when he found that one of his friends was using an older county-owned building to store music equipment and hold band practice. From there, he built out, finding possible instructors and supporters before securing the building as the home of the arts center.

Located in West Kentucky Technology Park in a building formerly occupied by the Department of Energy, the center has been given a rent-free home by Ballard County Economic Development.

"We're not sure if this is going to be our forever home, but this meets our needs for what we want to do now," Batts explained.

The facility houses a 90-seat theater for live music events and other entertainment, a large room with a dance floor, a band practice room and several smaller classrooms.

Batts has been impressed with the turnout at the events so far and how some families have already become regulars. One of those families is the Solomons.

"We were excited because it is about two minutes from our house," said Jennifer Solomon, a mother of two and a second-grade teacher at Heath Elementary School. "It was really nice for Ballard County to be able to have something where it's not so far for people to travel to get services like that for our children."

Her 5-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter have both enjoyed participating in the introductory music and dance classes, respectively. "I'm very excited about the music classes for my son. After that lesson, he was able to tell me the parts of the guitar, just like Tim explained it," she continued. "Them having a dance studio is very important for our community for those kids that want to do that because there is currently no dance studio in Ballard County."

In the immediate future, Batts hopes to keep the programming simple, sticking with music, dance, visual arts and photography classes for both kids and adults. He hopes to keep music events as a staple of their calendar.

The Kentucky West Arts Center is located at 175 Freedom Blvd. in Kevil. To keep up with events at the center, visit its Facebook page or go to www.kywestarts.org.

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