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WKCTC Launches Fundraising Campaign

West Kentucky Community and Technical College launched a $2 million capital fundraising campaign for its Paducah School of Art and Design (PSAD) Thursday with the help of a $500,000 donation from Paducah Junior College, Inc., the foundation of WKCTC.

Starting today we are in campaign mode, and we are in success mode, said WKCTC President Barbara Veazey.

WKCTC took a bold step in uncertain economic times more than seven years ago when it committed to bringing an art school to Paducah, Veazey said. With more than 425 students currently enrolled, PSADs enrollment has steadily increased while college officials worked in phases to develop a three-building art campus in the heart of Lowertown.

Veazey said the college committed to bringing the art school to Paducah because of the impact on the quality of life in the community but also because of the benefits to local economic development. This project is about economic development as much as it is about anything else. Its about bringing jobs to the area and creating a community where people want to live, she said.

The college opened the art school in temporary studios in downtown Paducah in spring 2008. WKCTC began renovation of the recently acquired Madison Hall facility in Lowertown for ceramics, metals, jewelry-making and 3D design classes. Earlier this year, work on the second phase of the PSAD project began with the construction of a new sculpture facility. The 7,000-square-foot building, adjacent to Madison Hall, will house studios for clay, wood working, welding, and metal fabrication, as well as a foundry for bronze casting. The sculpture facility will be open for classes in the fall of 2014.

The third and final phase of the campus will be the renovation of the former Kitchens, Inc., building at 905 Harrison Street. Once completed, the historic building will provide 29,400-square-feet of space for 2-dimensional design, painting, drawing, digital photography and graphic design and will cost $8 million.

We believe that if we can raise $2 million we can leverage those resources to ultimately raise the $8 million needed for this project. Veazey told members of the board from the college and PJC, Inc. during a joint meeting at WKCTC Thursday.

Immediately following Veazeys launch of the $2 million campaign Thursday, the PJC board unanimously voted to make a donation of $500,000 to the campaign over five years from unrestricted foundation funds. Thus far, the college, the PJC foundation and the city of Paducah have contributed $4 million in funds for the first two portions of the new PSAD campus.

PSAD Dean Paul Aho said the art school is a valuable asset for the community. To have a comprehensive campus with all our programs together will be a resource for our students and the city, he said.

The plans for the former Kitchens, Inc., building were welcomed news to PSAD student Evita Lynne Cole. The president of the PSAD art club and a 2003 graduate ofReidland High School, Cole expects to graduate from WKCTC in May with an Associate in Fine Arts degree.

A Lansing, Mich. native, Evita Lynne said she always wanted to go to school for art, but after moving to Paducah assumed she would need to go to a larger city to make that dream come true.

I think a lot of students who are creative in this town have been waiting to have an opportunity like this A lot of young local artists really dont really have a platform; and now this school is creating that for them, and were all really excited, the 29-year-old said. Its giving us attention as individual artists. Its giving us incredible opportunities as students. I think its bringing the younger generation of creative people together.

Evita Lynne said all of the progress thats been made with the art school has been a blessing not only for those people who love the arts, but also for the entire community and region. Were going to be the people who help keep Paducah moving forward and investing in it because of our own creative intentions so everything thats been happening with the school has been a huge blessing for the younger people who are passionate about creating art but they also love this town and they want to move forward, she said. There are not many community colleges in this country that have those kinds of programs especially for art students to really get foundational skills but also explore other mediums, so that when they go somewhere else they have already tapped on it already; and they can feel confident moving into a full, four-year art school. I guess I feel more prepared, and Im not overwhelmed about approaching new mediums and exploring them because of what the art school here has done for me.