Kentucky Arts Council chair Todd Lowe is the recipient of the 2012 James Welch, Sr. Arts Leadership Award. Lowe was honored by the Fund for the Arts Saturday night at the opening of Louisville Ballet’s “The Brown-Forman Nutcracker” for his commitment to volunteer arts leadership.
Praising the broad reach of his work and leadership in Louisville and across the Commonwealth, Fund for the Arts president and CEO Barbara Sexton Smith says Lowe is “the quintessential servant leader.”
“He has supported all of the arts locally, regionally, statewide and nationally, and he does it quietly, effortlessly,” she says. “He steps up to the plate.”
Lowe is the chair of the Kentucky Arts Council, and he also serves on the boards of Actors Theatre of Louisville and Louisville Public Media. He is also the chair of the Speed Art Museum’s board of trustees, and he co-chaired the Speed’s recent capital campaign to raise $45 million for the museum’s expansion and renovation.
“That’s the largest financial campaign for any arts organization that I’m aware of in the history of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. That is significant,” says Sexton Smith.
Lowe has been active on the boards of Louisville and Kentucky arts organizations since the mid-Nineties, when he joined the Actors Theatre board as a representative of Hilliard Lyons. He says that arts organizations that are still standing despite recent economic challenges will likely be “in good shape” when the economy makes a full recovery.
“I do think it’s really important, though, for those people that believe that arts have a major role to play in our community life that they support them one way or the other,” says Lowe. “There’s always a lethargy in any community assuming all these organizations can continue forever as they are. I think we know that’s not true.”
Lowe says during his seven-year tenure on the Kentucky Arts Council, he’s been impressed by the vitality of Kentucky’s arts community.
“One wouldn’t think so given the fact that that we’re a relatively poor state, but there are so many fabulous organizations and people just doing their own thing, making the arts happen in their own community,” says Lowe.
Lowe was selected by a panel of previous Welch Award winners and representatives from the Fund for the Arts and the law firm Stoll Keenon Ogden, which sponsors the award.