For more than 40 years, Lexington's Living Arts and Science Center has has provided unique opportunities in arts and sciences for both children and adults. (Photo from LASC.)
Non-Profit Profile is a monthly series profiling organizations serving our community, sponsored by Dean Dorton Allen Ford.
By Allison Carter
Special to KyForward
Something exciting is going on in the historic Kinkeadtown area of Lexington. A spectacular new addition to the Living Arts and Science Center will be a game-changer, for the city and for the entire Commonwealth.
The Living Arts and Science Center is a local treasure. For more than 40 years, LASC has provided creative and unique opportunities for exploration and education in the arts and sciences for both kids and adults. We don’t always realize the interconnected relationship between art and science, but to anyone who has walked through the doors of the Kinkead House, LASC’s landmark home, it suddenly seems obvious.
“What attracted me to LASC is that it’s the only organization in central Kentucky that understands the symbiotic nature of the arts and sciences,” said Donald Hellmann from JP Morgan Chase, currently president of the Center’s board of directors. “Every individual is born with the capacity to succeed. Exposure to the arts and sciences, and support and encouragement in arts and sciences, are critical to future success.”
(Photo from LASC.)
That unique approach has LASC bursting at the seams of its historic home. From its small beginnings, the Center now makes a difference to over 40,000 individuals and families each year through more than 400 classes and workshops, guided field trips for 7,000 Kentucky students from more than 23 counties, in-school and after-school science programs, monthly hands-on Discovery Night programs, StarLab Planetarium shows, free art and science outreach programs in 17 Kentucky counties, art exhibits, professional development for teachers, free programming and educational support to schools and social service agencies and much more.
LASC has done all this from its now-cramped quarters in the Kinkead House, and done it all with sound fiscal management and no debt.
“If someone is looking for an opportunity to invest in the community, we’re a real good one. We do so much with a small amount,” said Heather Lyons, LASC’s Executive Director. “We have been able to expand our service to the community through the economic downturn, and maintain our debt-free status. That is a testament to our board oversight, and to our donors and grants. Our fiscal management has been good, we are careful about how we spend, how we reinvest in our community. We are in a position now where we can move forward, and continue our mission in new and exciting ways.”
(Photo from LASC.)
LASC’s “Imagine This” capital campaign aims to raise $5 million for renovation of the Kinkead House and the addition of another building. But not just a building – an amazing design of building and landscape by internationally-renowned Kentucky-based architect DeLeon and Primmer Architecture Workshop is the real game-changer. Just as LASC brings arts and sciences together in magical ways, the new expansion merges the structures and the outdoors, blurring the edges between the natural and the built environment.
While the new design takes cues from the Kinkead House and the scale of the neighborhood with unique interpretations of historic elements such as the front stoop, the entry canopy, a limestone foundation, and the proportions of windows and doors, it’s also entirely different.
During the day or at night, reflections and transparencies between indoors and outdoors will allow visitors to see themselves in nature via the built environment, and will exhibit activities inside LASC back out to the community.
Kinkead House. (Photo from LASC.)
“We want people actively engaged in the new building. It will create more space, and grounds, that interact with art and science,” Heather explained. “The building will really be a living thing. Even at night, people can interact with it, see a photo exhibit through the windows, for example. It will have a planetarium, amphitheater, and gardens.” The goal is to make educational and creative opportunities accessible to all.
Now more than ever, it’s important for children – and adults, too – to learn, appreciate, experience and be creative with the arts and sciences. The Living Arts and Science Center has been at the forefront of filling this need, and with its bold vision for the future, it will engage Kentucky’s youth and enhance our community in entirely new ways.
For more information about LASC, visit its website at www.lasclex.org.
Allison Carter is a CPA and tax manager at Dean Dorton Allen and Ford, Lexington.