The 35th Anniversary class of The Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts concluded its historic second session on July 30.

The program doubled in class size from previous years thanks to supplemental funding from the Kentucky Department of Education. Growing from 256 students to more than 500 students, the tuition-free program took place during two consecutive three-week sessions (Session 1: June 12-July 2; Session 2: July 10-July 30) with students divided into each. Both sessions were hosted at The University of Kentucky.

During the three-week program, student-artists from 71 counties were immersed in a rigorous schedule of daily seminars, creative projects, master classes, and lectures. Instruction was offered in nine disciplines: Architecture+Design, Creative Writing, Dance, Drama, Film+Photography, Instrumental Music, Musical Theatre, Visual Art and Vocal Music.

Graduates from Grayson County High School include Bethany Ray (Instrumental Music), Dawson Gorby (Vocal Music), Jacob Van Metre (Vocal Music), and Michell Lynch (Instrumental Music).

Special activities and performances for GSA 2022 included a visit from Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, a trip to Louisville for a free showing of the touring Broadway musical Hamilton, Harlan County native and roots musician Martha Redbone, former Kentucky Poet Laureate Frank X. Walker, pianist and author Harry Pickens, and a variety of Kentucky-based arts and culture organizations, including the Muhammad Ali Center, Pones Dance Company, Flamenco Louisville, and Clear Creek Collective.

Since 1987, more than 7,000 rising high school juniors and seniors have descended on a college campus setting to immerse themselves in an arts intensive environment, with cross-discipline learning, special guest artist performances and lectures, and the opportunity to access critical life-changing college scholarships.

GSA was approved for $2,850,000 from the American Recovery Plan (ARP) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Summer Enrichment funds (Office of Teaching and Learning) to be awarded over a three-year period. Federal ESSER funding was provided to state education agencies as part of the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act). The $2,850,000 ESSER grant covers 43% of the expanded GSA program, with an additional 32% ($2,121,746) financed by private sources, and the remaining from the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Kentucky Performing Arts and program administrators are working to secure additional funding, including fundraising, to allow for the program to accommodate 500 students after the three-year grant term ends.

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