Arts and Culture

On Wednesday, the ceiling inside the main lobby of the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts caught fire. The building was in the midst of repairs and crews noticed smoke around 2 p.m. It took until after 5:30 p.m. to contain the flames.

According to a statement from the Center, there was “considerable damage,” the majority of which appears to be from water and is mostly confined to the lobby area. 

“We are currently assessing the damage to the entire facility and will determine when the building will reopen, as well as the impact on upcoming shows and events,” the statement read.

A close-up of some of the fire damage to the Kentucky Center. (June 14, 2018)

The Kentucky Center building, garage and box office will be closed today.

“We are working feverishly to get the space back up and running as soon as possible,” said Christian Adelberg, a spokesman for the Center. “We will have a better idea tomorrow on the status of when we can open to the public. Right now, it’s a safety issue. The damage right now is mostly water… there’s still water dripping and there will be for a day or two.”

The Center hosts performances by the Louisville Orchestra, Kentucky Opera, Louisville Ballet, Stage One Family Theatre and PNC Bank Broadway in Louisville, as well as a host of community theaters.

The Center is also home to a large 20th-century art collection, which is made up of 11 major sculptures and paintings; according to Adelberg, the collective value of the pieces located in the lobby is $18 million.

The collection was acquired in the 1980s under the guidance of Wendell Cherry, co-founder and president of Humana, Inc. and the first Kentucky Center chairman of the board.

“The artwork had already been covered and sealed in preparation for the ceiling repair work,” Adelberg said. “There was a layer of protection in place, but how that helped, or even if there is damage, we just don’t know yet. We are hoping to get that answer today.”

Damage to the Kentucky Center as seen from the street the day after a fire. (June 14, 2018)

The building itself was constructed in 1983 after the Kentucky General Assembly established a major public/private partnership for the Kentucky Center’s creation.

Ashlie Stevens is WFPL's Arts & Culture Reporter.