Our city’s thriving cultural scene is fueled by talented, fearless and forward thinking artists and the patrons who support them. At TOPS, we’re proud to showcase these vibrant partnerships that bring such joy and inspiration to our lives.

Actors Theatre of Louisville

316 West Main Street |

Now in its 55th season, Actors Theatre of Louisville presents over 400 performances annually and produces a broad range of programming through the Brown-Forman Series, Fifth Third’s Dracula and A Christmas Carol, and the Humana Festival of New American Plays, the country’s premier new play festival.

From September to April, Actors Theatre creates about 135,000 theatre experiences for audiences from the region and around the country. Tens of thousands of students interact with the Theatre each year through in-school residencies, the Cultural Pass program and free events throughout the season.

The Theatre’s Community Ticket Grant program, sponsored in part by Brown-Forman and Hogan Lovells, offers Actors Theatre tickets to qualifying groups serving Louisville and Southern Indiana.

Last season, the program gave 60 area charities the opportunity to share theatrical experience with 1,400 local residents.

Actors Theatre is also expanding Sensory-Friendly programming in the 2018-2019 season, beginning with The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time in October and Fifth Third Bank’s A Christmas Carol on December 4.

“The economic impact of the cultural organizations has been well-documented; at this year’s Humana Festival of New American Plays alone, the local economic impact was over $1.3 million,” says Managing Director Kevin E. Moore. “But, beyond dollars and cents, a robust local arts community is central to a vibrant community where shared experiences matter.”

The team at Actors Theatre is excited to begin another season in downtown Louisville. “We are big fans of the public art in Waterfront Park. You can find many of us, coffee in hand, taking a quick walk along the river. It’s a great break from the rehearsal room and a favorite introduction to Louisville for our visiting artists!” says Steve Knight, Director of Marketing.

Big Four Arts Festival

Big Four Bridge at Waterfront Park | 1101 River Road, Louisville |

The Big Four Arts Festival features more than 200 national artists, 20 emerging artists, craft vendors, international cuisine, music and children’s activities. All the fun takes place at Waterfront Park on the Big Four Bridge Lawn overlooking the Ohio River. The 2017 two-day inaugural Festival attracted an estimated crowd of 50,000 visitors. Supported by the City of Louisville and a multimedia advertising campaign, the Festival is expected to welcome a record-breaking crowd at this year’s Festival to be held September 8 and 9.

“This is a great event for members of the community to participate as an artist, as a volunteer, or, of course, as a Festival visitor. Louisville loves the arts!” says Louis Nunnelley, Event Director.

Surrounded by so many talented artists, it’s difficult for him to name a favorite, but he gives that honor to the late Julius Friedman who was a judge at last year’s festival.


Founded three years ago, CirqueLouis is dedicated to enhanced circus arts training, social outreach and producing contemporary circus. Two professional shows are presented each season, one at Iroquois Amphitheater and one at The Kentucky Center. CirqueLouis provides experiential circus arts entertainment, provides outreach through The Unicycle Project and houses Louisville’s only social circus program at Louisville Visual Art.

The goal of its social circus is to promote teamwork that helps foster self-esteem and, eventually, creative output.

The Unicycle Project strives to remind others—and ourselves—that we are never alone, and no matter what trial we may be facing, that there are people in our corner cheering us on. The Louisville community is invited to become involved with CirqueLouis by attending shows, which helps fund outreach and social circus, donating materials or sponsoring a show, joining a Unicycle Project or the weekly social circus program. The Unicycle Project will be partnering with PeteFest, a musical festival that raises awareness of mental health advocacy, for a September 7-9 event.

The next CirqueLouis production will be at The Kentucky Center November 3-4. “Art establishes meaningful connections between artist and audience and can also provide social commentary that may spark ideas to directly change the world. We feel circus arts is a medium for us to achieve those objectives in our own community,” says Abbie Springer, Co-founder. “The amazing Julia Davis, my favorite local artist, has designed our last five CirqueLouis images and magically captures the spirit of CirqueLouis.” To learn more about how CirqueLouis is impacting the community with circus, visit

Fund for the Arts

623 W. Main Street, #200 Louisville, KY 40202 |

Fund for the Arts embarks on its 70th year of bringing transformative arts experiences to our stages, museums, schools, community centers, senior care facilities, parks, libraries, and more.

With broader support for the arts, we can make a larger impact on all aspects of our community — from education and social services to economic development and tourism.

This is possible when we ensure the arts, culture and creativity that abounds in our city are fully integrated into daily life and accessible to everyone in every neighborhood. Join the celebration and learn how you can get involved at

Gilda’s Club Louisville

633 Baxter Ave |

Gilda’s Club Louisville provides social and emotional support to families in our community living with cancer. The non-profit organization offers more than 100 free programs each month, including support groups, art, music and theater, healthy lifestyles like yoga, cooking classes, meditation and educational lectures, workshops and social events. Research shows that psychosocial support improves health outcomes, including mental/physical health, health habits, mortality risk and also reduces health care costs.

Since opening in 2007, Gilda’s Club has served 7,500 members living with 55 different types of cancer. Nearly one-quarter of people served are children.          

Volunteers play a vital role at Gilda’s Club providing meals, acting as ambassadors, working at special events and more.

Donations, whether $5 or $10,000 are welcome and make it possible to provide all program offerings free to members. Donations of supplies are also welcome. To see a wish list, visit

“Because Gilda’s Club has outgrown our present space, we have recently purchased a 35,000 square-foot property on Grinstead Drive that will more than double our clubhouse, allowing us to serve more than 5,000 people a year. We are in the midst of a $12 million capital campaign to create greater impact and reach − with more lives touched, changed, improved and saved,” says Goldring, Director of Marketing and Communications

Gilda’s Club offers support groups in Southern Indiana, and in the spring of 2020, will be opening a branch site in West Louisville.

Art is an important component of Gilda’s Club programming. “Art, whether for therapy or just the gratification that comes with creating, is healing - allowing the expression of joy, sadness or grief. We are grateful to the talented and generous artists in our community who donated artwork to our clubhouse. We’re fortunate to have received textiles, painting, photographs and sculptures to beautify our space,” says Goldring.

Kentucky Opera

323 West Broadway, Suite 600 |

Performing arts, especially music, stimulate the mind and the senses. Entering its 67th season, Kentucky Opera enriches and engages our community through spectacular music, creative storytelling and the thrill of the human voice.

In addition to performances on stage at the Brown Theatre, Kentucky Opera has a variety of community engagement and educational programs for adults and children. Students may attend productions during the final Wednesday Dress Rehearsals.

Kentucky Opera has touring productions that perform at schools, while also partnering with organizations and businesses to bring opera to the community.

Kentucky Opera invites the public to become individual donors, attend the three Mainstage productions at the Brown Theatre, or attend outreach events. Local singers are encouraged to audition for the chorus, and there are many opportunities to volunteer for the organization.

Upcoming events include Opera in the Park!, a concert at Willow Park on August 24 and the Locust Grove Summer Concert Series on August 30.

KMAC Museum

715 West Main Street, Louisville |

Art is the highest form of communication. “Our museum contextualizes Kentucky art within a global perspective, helping students, artists and the daily visitor see their own role and how they fit into a larger picture of the world we occupy. Conversations begin through our collaborations with artists as we provide a platform for their work,” says Executive Director Aldy Milliken.

“We help our visitors engage with these ideas and hopefully they leave inspired by what they’ve seen in the museum and have conversations on their own.”

KMAC Museum connects people to art and creative practice, hosting about 50,000 visitors in its historic 715 West Main Street facility. The museum is a resource that draws people together to experience art through exhibitions, educational workshops, hands-on art-making and programs such as lectures, poetry slams, artists talks and many other opportunities to learn about, discuss and be with contemporary culture. Outside the museum, pop-up exhibitions, collaborations with schools and community outreach with a team of art educators account for another 50,000 interactions that deepen community empathy and pride.

KMAC provides for the region and depends on the Louisville community for financial support, volunteers, board members and artistic interactions. “We are excited to announce that the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts has awarded us another two-year grant for our exhibitions,” says Curator Joey Yates.  “Expect more dynamic exhibitions from local and national artists in the years to come.” Jibade-Khalil Huffman’s exhibition of photography and video work will open at the Museum in August 2018. Followed by exhibitions featuring Elsa Hansen Oldham in October 2018 and Sarah Crowner in December 2018. Visit the KMAC website for information about upcoming shows.

Louisville International Festival of Film

401 W Main St, Ste 300 Louisville, Kentucky 40202 |

Celebrating its tenth year, Louisville International Festival of Film (LIFF) screens artistic films not usually presented through commercial venues and to giving independent filmmakers a place to showcase their work.

Festival proceeds are used by The Louisville Film Arts Institute to help fund education efforts focused on training upcoming Louisville and Kentucky filmmakers.

“The name of the festival was created to broadcast Louisville’s name to the world without having everyone think Derby. Over the past ten years, 20 to 30 countries have submitted films to LIFF. An average of 35 to 40% have attended. Japan submits a film and attends every year,” says Conrad Bachmann.

LIFF provides scholarships to students at various high schools, particularly Ballard, Pleasure Ridge Park and Fern Creek, to attend the festival. The students experience a learning curve as they film interviews with the actors, producers and directors.

LIFF also works closely with the Louisville Free Public Library on the Kentucky Youth Film Festival, which is in its tenth year. It’s a mini film festival for students who are given a subject about which to produce a film. The goal is to give students who are interested in the art of film a boost in experience and creativity. Films are presented at the library and are kicked off with a red carpet opening night. At a full screening session, the winners are awarded prizes and scholarships.

“I’ve always felt that LIFF attracts a diverse group of people and lets everyone who attends or reads a festival program know that Louisville is an alluring city,” says Bachmann. “When I’m asked to name my favorite Louisville filmmaker, actor or actress, I say they’re all my favorites. However, we were very fortunate to have Jennifer Lawrence with her “The Burning Plain” at our first festival. It was quite an opening for the festival.”

Louisville Visual Art

1538 Lytle Street |

Throughout history, art has been used to tell the story of those who have come before. Art enhances our most private as well as our public spaces. Art causes us to think, reflect and look inward. Art can also calm our troubled souls,” says Lindy Casebier, Executive Director of Louisville Visual Art.

For over 100 years, Louisville Visual Art has been transforming lives and communities through art. Since 1925, LVA has offered Children’s Fine Art Classes, providing intensive in-depth art experiences to over 1,100 students annually through a variety of programming. The organization’s Children’s Fine Art Classes engage talented and motivated students in grades 4 through 8.

The Academy of LVA prepares high school students to begin their careers as the next generation of creative leaders.

In 1989, by providing art enrichment experiences and classes through after school and summer offerings, LVA’s Open Doors programming began encouraging and inspiring participants from underserved populations. That initiative has grown since its inception almost 30 years ago.

As a creative hub now established in the Portland neighborhood, LVA is committed to engaging and encouraging artists through programming such as Artebella, Open Studio Weekend, PUBLIC, LVA’s community-based radio program and weekly calls for artists. LVA is developing the Mural Art Program (MAP) to beautify and transform our city, raise awareness of art within the community and promote local artists.

Upcoming events at Louisville Visual Art include the Plein Air Paint Out, September 15; Louisville Artists: Carry On Exhibit, September 23; Open Studio Weekend, November 3 and 4; LVA Honors Luncheon, February 1, 2019; and art[squared] April 12, 2019.

In his role at Louisville Visual Art, Casebier is familiar with many exceptional pieces of art, but one of his favorites is Ed Hamilton’s Lincoln on the Louisville waterfront.

Norton Commons

9418 Norton Commons Boulevard |

Norton Commons is an inclusive mixed-use community of classic, beautiful architecture that encourages walkability, sustainability, social living and efficient building. As a part of achieving those goals, Norton Commons’ development team presents a number of cultural and seasonal events throughout the year to promote the common enjoyment of its charming amenities and streetscapes.

“The entire Louisville community is invited to partake in our events that are generally free and open to the public. Whether it’s Shakespeare in the Park, a Music by the Water Concert, our annual Art Festival, or an orchestra or opera event, Norton Commons hosts events and activities that enrich lives in our area,” says Marilyn Osborn Patterson, Marketing Director for Norton Commons.

“We’re bringing the arts to peoples’ backyards – literally.”

The North Village Market, an open-air pedestrian-friendly market, will be unveiled to the public in August. Home to independent local retailers and restaurants, it also contains Norton Commons’ newest performance venue, the Market Stage. Live weekly musical performances will showcase some of the area’s best talent in a picture-perfect atmosphere.

Art in many forms plays a prominent role in the character of Norton Commons. “It helps make our community unique, and we’re glad to contribute to the distinctive nature of Louisville as a whole,” says Patterson. Her favorite pieces of physical art in the neighborhood are the geopuncture (earth healing) stones, hand-carved by sculptor Marko Pogačnik, UNESCO Artist for Peace. “Folks sometimes refer to them as our mini-Stonehenge, and if you visit our geopuncture circle in Oval Park, you’ll understand the reference. The large stones are scattered throughout the neighborhood, and a lot of people have used them as backdrops for family photos, yoga classes, picnics, or just as a peaceful spot to enjoy the sunset. The beauty of the stone art is that it can be used and enjoyed in different ways by different people, furthering its uniqueness. We’re thankful to have them as part of our community.”

Scott Smith Resident Artist Main & Clay Apartments

633 E. Main Street, Louisville |

Main & Clay, a new luxury apartment community in the Butchertown/NuLu neighborhood, invites residents and neighbors to enjoy an amenity-rich experience. “Through partnering with local businesses, such as offering Quills Coffee in the lobby, working with area restaurants for catering, and connecting with other local businesses through the Main & Clay app, we support local in an effort to help the area thrive,” says Gionna Pitrone, Marketing Coordinator with Bristol Development Group.

Believing that art makes our community a better place, Main & Clay is collaborating with Louisville Visual Art on a permanent art installation.

Art is an amazing way to connect a community and express individual passions, whether through visual arts, music, food or other channels.

Main & Clay is Louisville’s most unique art-focused residential community. It has named Scott Smith Artist in Residence, which is quite an accolade to him and is a gift to Louisvillians who appreciate his talent.

Main & Clay learned of Smith through acclaimed cello player Ben Sollee. Smith has become one of the artists at the center of Louisville’s burgeoning arts scene. “Growing up in Appalachia, I heard a lot of Bluegrass music and country music. I was also raised with a lot of soul music in my house. So, I would say my genre is folk/soul.

Residents of Main & Clay will have the special privilege of a special relationship with Smith as he becomes part of the fabric of the unique residential community. He will perform at Main & Clay events, giving his fellow residents the opportunity to hear his music and get to know him and his fascinating story. The public will also be able to enjoy his music at Main & Clay events that welcome non-residents. “When Scott plays at our events, such as our Grand Opening, he knocks it out of the park every time. We’re happy to watch him shine!” says Pitrone.

Zoom Group

1904 Embassy Square Boulevard |

Zoom Group, a not for profit organization, provides pre-employment vocational training to more than 200 individuals with disabilities. StudioWorks, the flagship program, is an art gallery that’s open to the public as well as a learning space for adults (artists) with disabilities. The artists explore various media to find their strengths, to be able to more effectively express themselves, increase self-confidence and produce quality, sellable artwork.

For many artists, their sales serve as supplemental income while creating an opportunity to learn business and communication skills necessary for employment in the community.

Through self-expression, they share their unique perspectives and ideas to reflect an inclusive view of our world. The diverse collection of art provides an enriching experience to everyone. “We love community partners! We invite you to join us as volunteers, visiting artists, gallery and exhibit sponsors, and patrons,” says Melissa Marvel, President and CEO.



Posted on 2018-08-06 by Nancy Miller