Lifelong Learning:The LASC believes that people of all ages deserve accessible opportunities to learn and to be creative.
Community Outreach:The LASC believes that the community is stronger through opportunities for citizens to work, create and learn together.
Diversity in service:The LASC believes that all of its representatives, staff, programs and services should respect all people equally without regard to race, creed, color, financial status, sexual orientation, gender, age, religion, disability or nationality.
Accountability and Transparency:The LASC believes in honoring the community’s trust through accountability and transparency of our programs and services.
Interactivity:The LASC believes in participation and interactivity and will strive to fully engage the staff, board of directors and community at-large.
The beautiful building and grounds of the Living Arts & Science Center (LASC) is as significant to Lexington’s history as is the organization itself. The structure, known as the Kinkead House, was built in 1847 by George B. Kinkead, a landowner and Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln’s attorney. Following the civil war, Kinkead was sympathetic to the plight of newly freed slaves. To assist with housing needs for them, he built homes on the land adjacent to his residence and made them available to the freed slaves moving into the more urbanized area. This neighborhood came to be known as Kinkeadtown and grew to include more than 300 families in Lexington’s east end.
In 1968, visionary Lexington leaders identified the need for creative education for children and the LASC was founded to provide “creative and unique opportunities in the arts and sciences.” In 1971, the Kinkead heirs first loaned the use of their house and grounds to the new organization and, in 1981, the Kinkead heirs donated the historic home and acreage to the LASC.
The building is now on the National Register of Historic Places and the 7,000 square foot house and 1.5 lively acres surrounding the building provides programming for over 40,000 children and adults annually. The grounds have been enhanced to include a man-made waterfall and stream, large sculptures, native Kentucky plantings, and educational gardens.
Major Accomplishments include:
Class enrollment has more than doubled in the past 5 years. Last summer, we served over 1,200 students during the 9-week summer program. We now offer classes 12 months out of the year and have expanded our program to include tuition-based after school classes at five elementary schools and free after school programs at five low income elementary schools and one low income middle school. The LASC also expanded our scholarship program to provide over 300 scholarships to students with financial need.
Field trips continue to increase by 10 to 20% each year. In 2015, over 7,500 students from schools in 40+ Kentucky counties participated in the LASC's field trip programs, and in Wonders On Wheels (WOW), the LASC’s hands-on arts and science programs which are taken into schools.
The Day of the Dead Festival’s annual event in 2015 included the participation of more than 20 schools and several non-profit organizations, and dozens of individual performing and visual artists. Over 1,500 guests were welcomed for a related art exhibit and traditional dance, music, Day of the Dead food, crafts, and a candlelight parade to an altar exhibit in the neighborhood cemetery.
Challenges and Goals:
With our over-extended space, the LASC works hard to maintain high quality programs while not losing audience or reducing programs. We try to stagger programming to allow more opportunities for participants. We are excited to open our new facility and renovated home that will allow our existing programs to grow and give us the opportunity to begin new programs.
It is an honor to serve as president of the board of the LASC during such a dynamic and inspiring time in the organization’s history. For more than four decades, the LASC has provided opportunities to children and adults to participate in creative learning opportunities in the arts and sciences. In the past 10 years, we have more than doubled our total number of individuals reached and have completely maximized the space that we have in our facility at the historic Kinkead House in downtown Lexington and are in need of expansion to facilitate our continued growth. It is a very exciting time for our organization.
Currently, the focus of our board and staff has been on our $5.5 million Imagine This! capital campaign to renovate the Kinkead House and expand into a new building on our campus. Despite launching the campaign during a slow economic recovery, we have raised $4.9 million of that $5.5 million campaign and are working hard to raise the final funds necessary to complete the project.
The Lexington community has embraced our efforts and is enthused by our progress. We continue to hear wonderful accolades about the project. The expansion is sorely needed for our organization- we have waiting lists for our field trip program, classrooms are at capacity for many of our classes, and we borrow space periodically throughout the year to offer our programs.
In addition to our capital campaign, we must maintain a healthy annual operating budget. We do that in a variety of ways, including board-driven projects like our annual H'Artful of Fun and Bike Prom events, as well as an annual giving, sponsorship, and membership program. Challenges exist in fundraising in this economy, but our mission resonates throughout the community and state and each year, we find that new and loyal donors understand the importance of the LASC.
The LASC enjoys and benefits from an engaged and dedicated board of directors. Coupled with a talented and dedicated staff, we operate a non-profit that carries no debt, an uncommon trait in this day and age.
We are grateful to the Blue Grass Community Foundation for its continued commitment to non-profits like the LASC. We value its partnership, the annual Good Giving Campaign, and all it and its donors do for the Lexington community and beyond.
The Living Arts and Science Center’s
(LASC) mission is to inspire participation in art and science by engaging the
community through education, discovery, exploration and creativity.
This is accomplished through classes, workshops, hands-on
programs, participatory exhibits, frequent opportunities to learn science and
art forms directly from performing or exhibiting artists and scientists,
collaborative experiences for the community, educational programs in schools,
community centers, and other venues to reach special needs, at risk and
underserved children and adults. The
LASC offers free and low-cost programming and awards scholarships based on
financial need in order to provide programming for all members of the Central
Kentucky community. The staff and board of directors understand that this
mission will be accomplished through maintaining ethical standards and ongoing
oversight of the programming offered at LASC.
In the Summer of 2014, the LASC board and staff met to create a
strategic transition plan to guide the organization over the next three years. The
following statement is our vision statement and goal for the next three years:
It is the year
2017 and the Living Arts & Science Center is a beacon, leader and innovator
of art and science education and a nationally recognized resource. The recently expanded campus is the best
destination for exploration that engages visitors in lifelong learning. The Center continues to grow the endowment
for future support and is financially stable to focus on organizational
The goals identified in this plan include increasing and enhancing the
awareness and visibility of the LASC, ensuring that the LASC is considered an
innovative resource for education in the arts and sciences for all ages, ensuring
outreach through programming, and ensuring short- and long-term financial stability
In 2014, using the LASC’s prior successful plan as a model,
the board and staff identified new goals and objectives for the next three
years. Board committees and staff members were identified and assigned the responsibility
of carrying out various strategies and action steps. They will regularly meet
to update the plan and use these strategies as their guide throughout the next
With the new expansion and renovation of the LASC’s facility,
increasing and enhancing the awareness and visibility of the LASC is a
priority. Identified strategies to meet this goal include developing and
implementing a communication and marketing plan, re-branding the LASC and its
new facility, and seeking out grants and awards to help elevate recognition of
the LASC throughout the region.
In the area of programming, the LASC identified many strategies to
ensure that we are an innovative resource for education and that we continue to
make outreach a priority. These strategies include expanding existing
programming within our new facility, establishing new programs, such as a Space
Program to participate with our planetarium, and to develop teaching curriculum
for new areas of the building, including the Teaching Kitchen, Clay Studio, and
Digital Media Lab. The identified strategies were developed to meet the needs
of our many varied audiences, including teachers, at-risk youth, families,
artists, and scientists. As the board and staff considered the goals and
aligned strategies to meet them, specific programs were analyzed for growth
areas and potentially new programs were identified to be considered. Throughout
this process, board and staff visualized the programs within the new facility. In
addition to considering each program and audience, the LASC focused on
partnership and collaboration as a key in each strategy developed. The LASC has
been successful and growing since 1968 because of its partnership with many
artists, scientists, educators, students, community members, and organizations
in its programming. Involving many to participate in the programming, from
start to finish, creates a collaborative, community effort to form shared ideas
and concepts, and strengthens the LASC’s role as a core provider of lifelong
Strategies addressing finances include maximizing investments,
regular oversight of income and expenses, the completion of the LASC’s capital
campaign, and to diversify fundraising and establish new giving opportunities
at the LASC. These plans include opportunities for growing the endowment, continuing
a planned giving program, and identifying new areas for program support and
sponsorship within the new facility. Additionally, the LASC set forth strategies
to remain transparent to all parties.
The LASC benefits from a highly engaged staff of 10 professionals, all
of whom are deeply connected with various constituencies; a 23-member board of
directors who are also engaged in the community both personally and
professionally; a Science Advisory Committee, specifically to discuss and
review the LASC’s science programming; and a Capital Campaign Advisory
Committee which is involved in our expansion planning. All of these groups contribute to the LASC
remaining connected, focused, and able to provide consistent and unique
programming within the community. Through
regular meetings with these individuals, meetings with other community
organizations, and constant evaluation with school systems and grant agencies
such as LexArts and the Kentucky Arts Council, the LASC continues to monitor
existing programs in the community and responds to those needs accordingly.
The LASC works diligently by partnering with other artists,
scientists, educators, and organizations in presenting programs, working with
schools to identify needs, and meeting regularly with community leaders to
discuss the services we are providing. The
LASC is also a member of the LexArts, Association of Science and Technology
Centers (ASTC), and NASA-Kentucky, all which serve as a resource for professional
development, funding opportunities, and program-development.
The LASC’s financial position is also a great asset as we move forward
into the next phase of our long-range plan. The LASC remains a debt-free
organization, which owns its own building and 1.5 acres of land in downtown
Lexington. LASC Board and staff work continuously to ensure
adequate and expanding resources to support the organizational mission. In the
past year, funding success has included:
The LASC has nearly completed its $5.5
million campaign for our renovation and expansion - with a current total of $5.3 million raised;
We continue to maximize
our primary fundraiser, H’Artful of Fun. In 2015, this event raised more than
$92,000, a large increase from our $77,000 total from 2014. In 2016, our event will be held for the first time at the Living Arts & Science Center in April, as part of the grand (re) opening of our facility;
The continuation of our
Bike Prom event which inspires bike riders to dress as they were going to the
prom, ride their bike to “stops” in downtown Lexington, participate in
prom-like activities, and finish the ride at a local brewery. Last year, the LASC doubled the total raised for
this event through sponsorships and increased participation.
anticipate nearly 50% increases in earned income for our field trip programs,
classes, and family programming in the planetarium within the first full
year of our new building.
To assess the effectiveness and quality
of our programs, the LASC gathers and evaluates information in numerous
ways. We solicit direct feedback through
evaluation forms that are provided to every student, parent and visiting
teacher participating in a class, workshop or field trip program. Evaluation forms are also available
year-round on the LASC Web site. The
evaluation seeks rankings and comments on teachers, curriculum, and policies
and practices of the LASC. Forms are
reviewed by the educational staff and ED and responded to if appropriate.
Comments from evaluations are entered into a database and used in marketing and
publicity materials. Programming and teachers are assessed based upon
evaluations and staff visits to classrooms. Additionally, LASC teachers are
asked to evaluate their teaching experiences and to discuss issues with the
Education staff and the LASC Director. The LASC also provides comment books at exhibits and community programs. Additionally, full staff and programmatic
staff meet regularly for planning, program development, and for post-event
discussions. Notes for revisions and
improvements are made and reviewed for recurring events. And, staff meets with other artist
collaborators prior to events and following events to discuss and evaluate
For the past five years, the LASC has
enjoyed significant growth in our classes (for all ages), our field trip
programs, and our community arts programs. We are very pleased to see many participants who join with us for one program,
also begin attending other programs too. Additionally, in 2014, the LASC was the recipient of a Golden Apple
Award from Commerce Lexington and the Fayette Co. Public School system and the
recipient of two highly competitive federal grants - an Institute for Museum & Library Services
(IMLS) grant and a Creativity Garden grant from the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC). These are all positive
indicator to us of the quality of our programs.
Throughout our transition plan, we have
established measurable outcomes for each goal. Specific milestones include (but
are not limited to):
Development of a
marketing and communications plan
Re-branding of the LASC
and opening of new facility,
simultaneously (we have a new logo and branding materials that are being unveiled alongside our new space)
Completion of capital
campaign and focused efforts on new membership levels and funding opportunities
Establishment of new
programs, including a Space Program
Further expansion of
existing programs into new facility
curriculum for new areas of the building – Teaching Kitchen, Clay Studio,
Rooftop Garden, and Digital Media Lab (We recently received funding for Teaching Kitchen programs).
This plan will help us transition into
our new facility and begin operating with the additional space. At that time,
the board and staff will re-evaluate our long-range plan and undergo an
additional planning process for the years 2017-2022.
Physically, the LASC is
growing, as well. The renovation of our existing home and construction of a
10,000+ square foot addition is underway. Our new facility is now open and being utilized for programming while our historic home is nearing completion of renovations now.
While there are always significant financial challenges for non-profits, the LASC has weathered difficulties remarkably well due to our financial stability.
Due to significant programmatic growth, the LASC launched a $5.5M Capital Campaign in 2012. We have now raised $5.3 million, have completed our new facility, and are completing renovation of our historic building and grounds. It has been extremely challenging to raise the capital funds while trying to maintain our extensive programming; some programming and operating donors have suspended their donations while they fulfill their commitments to the capital campaign. This has required extremely tight management of the organization and this year, with the loss of a $50,000 grant that supported programming for at-risk and underserved audiences, as well as some operating expenses for our building, were regretfully reduced some employee benefit expenses and reduced some free outreach activities. We had received this funding for over 20 years but now will not be eligible for it again until the foundation has completed their very significant gift to the capital campaign. The slow construction process exacerbates the problem because we are unable to expand our earned income programming with our limited space. We have, and are managing to remain debt free and to fulfill our programmatic mission --- and, complete our building and our capital campaign, however, it is not without challenge.
The LASC has actively sought and implemented best management practices for the Board of Directors and staff. Several years ago, the organization reviewed and utilized former State Auditor Crit Luallen's guidelines for non-profit management, and the LASC was an early adopter of the Kentucky Non-profit Networks Governance guidelines. Our Core Values, which were adopted along with our Long Range Plan in 2010, focus on quality, high standards and complete transparency of our organization.
The Living Arts & Science Center's IMAGINE THIS Capital Campaign is an historic and important initiative for this organization. This $5.5M campaign will not only serve the organization, the neighborhood and the community, but will propel the organization to be accepted as an arts and education destination for visitors from across the state and in our several contiguous states. Now nearing completion of this campaign, the organization has a tremendous responsibility to maintain stringent financial oversight and transparency of all capital campaign information as well as for our ongoing programming and services. We welcome the opportunity to maintain our high standards of quality and transparency in all of work.
We see this as the most opportune time to move forward with this visionary expansion. The East End of Lexington is experiencing some wonderful rebirth, and all of downtown is now the focus of new and exciting development and infrastructure. Our new facility, which will offer so much on the inside and outside of the building, will definitely be a vibrant and creative addition that will enhance the quality of life for all. With our continued movement forward, the LASC will be poised and ready to serve an eager and larger audience and constituency when the economy has rebounded.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
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