CivicLex Info Hub

What is LexArts?

Sectors: Arts & Culture, Economic & Workforce Development, General Government

Council Districts: All of Lexington

Issue Sections

Quick Summary:

LexArts is the primary cultural development, advocacy and fundraising organization for the City of Lexington. It functions as both greater Lexington’s arts counciland united arts fund. The arts council function of LexArts convenes and advocates for artists and arts organizations and the united arts fund function raises funding to redistribute to artists and arts organizations.

In FY2019, LexArts receives $489,000 for its role as the area arts council from the city of Lexington and raises around $600,000 for its annual fundraising function as the united arts fund.

Why does this matter?

LexArts is the main recipient of arts funding from the city of Lexington.

  • Municipal investment in arts organizations and united arts fund has a significant in eliminating burdens for organizational sustainability in the arts. Investments in the arts help spur economic development and improvements to an area’s quality of life.
  • LexArts received $489,00 from the City of Lexington in FY2019. This funding is part of the Mayor’s Office Budget, overseen by the Economic Development staff, and is disbursed through a purchase of service agreement.
  • LexArts responsibilities under this agreement are to provide re-granting funds raised in the Fund for the Arts Campaign to arts organizations providing arts and cultural programming in Lexington; provide below-market rental space for arts organizations at ArtsPlace; organize and manage community arts events; and publish materials related to the arts. LexArts must provide quarterly reports to the city regarding these responsibilities.
  • City funding has historically been reported as part of the Fund for the Arts campaign, though it is used for LexArts’ own operational expenses and is not regranted to other organizations.

What is the context?

  • LexArts began in 1972. At the time it was call the Lexington Council of the Arts with a mission to provide programs and services for arts organizations and artists to ensure a thriving arts community.
  • It merged with the Fund for the Arts, a separate organization created in 1984 to raise General Operating Support (GOS) for the pillars of the Central KY arts community, in 1989, and became the Lexington Arts and Cultural Council. In 2005 it was renamed LexArts.
  • In total, 304,00 adults and 217,00 youth attended or participated in arts programming that LexArts helped fund. The programming reaches across the state, though the majority of activities take place in Central Kentucky, specifically Fayette County.
  • State funding for arts education, programming, and artists in Kentucky continues to dwindle. The Kentucky Arts Council’s (KAC) budget, alone, has seen more than a 40% reduction by the state government since 2008.
  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Lexington employs around 12,792 people within the Creative Industries, accounting for $290M in earnings.

How can I get involved?

  1. Talk with your family, friends and neighbors about the arts influential role in the city and the importance of funding arts programs.
  2. Attend and support local productions/shows and artists/organizations
  3. Volunteer at arts organizations
  4. Get in touch with LexArts Community Arts Director- Nathan Zamarron


  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  2. Kentucky Arts Council - Creative Industry Report
  3. Tom Eblen: State investment in the arts pays big returns. Why doesn’t Gov. Matt Bevin get it?
  4. LexArts
  5. Creative Vitality Suite - Fayette County Data