Through the high tech boom, this Home Rule municipality of about 19,000 residents has managed to keep its charm of yesteryear. Outside of City Hall, a Miners memorial statue acknowledges the coal miners that populated the area beginning with the Welch mine in 1877. Though the town went through some tumultuous times with mining strikes, union disagreements, and general mining town hooliganism in its early development, the streets of downtown Louisville today reflects the nostalgia of a quieter time with family restaurants, shops, and businesses. This quaint town with a blend of modern and historical relevance has gained national attention in recent years as one of the best places to live in the U.S. In May of 2006, Bert Sperling & Peter Sander, in their book Best Places to Raise Your Family: The Top 100 Affordable Communities in the U.S., ranked Louisville first on their list of best places in the U.S. to raise a family. In August, 2007, Money magazine listed Louisville as third over all and “Best in the West” on its annual “Best Places to Live”. They “focused on smaller places that offered the best combination of economic opportunity, good schools, safe streets, things to do and a real sense of community.” The Money article highlighted Louisville”s “old wooden buildings downtown still give the place the feel of a small frontier town,” and described the “Outdoor life is spectacular.” Add another measure of quality of life – a blossoming arts community. With an impressive staff which has credentials from Broadway to Carnegie Hall, The Art Underground opened its doors in historic downtown Louisville last September in a makeshift studio on Main Street. This month marks the opening of their custom studio, just a block over at 901 Front Street ” complete with dance flooring, mirrors, acoustic balance, and a separate visual arts “create” space. The non-profit organization offers theatre and visual arts for all ages, and music and dance from Celtic to Hip-Hop. In addition to providing high quality arts classes, The Art Underground hosts workshops, art galleries/exhibits and other events, and promotes opportunities for patrons and artists to connect and support a growing arts community. “I love downtown Louisville,” said Lori Jones, Arts Underground Executive Director, “I think it has the potential to be an arts hub, and that”s my ultimate goal, to promote all of the arts in the Louisville area ” that will give a core for downtown and help it strive.” Jones and her family have called Louisville home for 14 years. With a background in teaching and volunteer work she has witnessed good things that happen when people combine with passion and purpose. “I”ve seen it happen before,”, “A great synergy happens when you bring people together to be a part of a community,” said Jones who was delighted with the staff, board of directors, and volunteers who have banded together to make The Art Underground a reality. “It”s incredible how it all came together ” the timing has been just perfect ” it”s something that can”t be planned, it just happened.” Jones helped start the synergy for The Art Underground with discussions with friends and like-minded community members including current Arts Underground Board of Directors Lisa Larisch Phillips, a professional artist with art gallery experience in NYC; Lori Scheiffler, a successful business owner, CPA, with a background in the arts; Terese Carroll, recipient of a Ford Foundation scholarship to the School of American Ballet and the official training academy”of the New York City Ballet while in High School (She ended up going to the University of Virginia Law School and became a corporate lawyer); and Jones who most recently was on the Board of Directors of youth theatre group CenterStage Theatre Company. “Our Board of Directors is small, but each member has brought a great deal of expertise to the endeavor,” said Jones, adding that her co-Board members, “have incredible backgrounds and have been instrumental in pulling this (T.A.U.) together.” “A lot of good-hearted and really talented people have come on board with us” said Jones. Among those people is soon-to-be landlord for the new Art Underground space, Arlin Lehman. According to Jones, Lehman is a supporter for an arts theme in downtown Louisville and has been going above and beyond to try to make the Front Street facility special for The Arts Underground patrons. “It”s a beautiful space with high ceilings and natural light ” and there is room to expand,” said Jones, “Parents can sit on our wonderful patio and watch their children practice.” “Several more individuals have offered their services for free to help make The Art Underground function well…Ileane Olson has jumped in to lend her business expertise to the organization whenever needed,” said Jones, “Many other people have stepped forward to help with a variety of services…office painting, moving from the temp space to the new space, manning the office, marketing and design services ” and even cleaning.” In addition to much help received by local individuals, The Art Underground has partnered with Louisville businesses for mutually beneficial relationships. “We have partnered with the Old Louisville Inn to use their performance space for our Celtic programs,” said Jones, and added that Dana Vachharajani Music and Casablanca Dance Studio in Louisville have agreed to share space for classes. The Arts Underground received a few scholarship donations according to Jones. “I called some local schools to identify possible recipients. The very first recipient was enthusiastically recommended by personnel at one of the schools.” The 8 year-old girl and her two siblings ages 4 and 5 are being raised by a single father who brought them to Louisville to escape the crime in Detroit. When moms of some of the other kids in this little girls’ class heard about the dire circumstances in her family, they sprung into action to help the family with food, gifts and other support. “This has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my job so far.” It’s been very heartwarming to see a sense of community develop in new and different ways from what I had originally anticipated.” Information about The Arts Underground. 303-229-1127 or www.theartunderground.org.

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