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Kentucky Center getting upgrade




LOUISVILLE

The Kentucky Center performing arts venue will “become a 21st century venue” when millions of dollars in upgrades are completed.

A $9 million project to refurbish the downtown Louisville Center is going on. Even though it will be open during the summer, performances will be down.

The Center hadn’t lost business because of its old equipment, but “we probably were getting close to losing shows,” center spokesman

David Holland told The Courier-

Journal of Louisville.

When the Kentucky Legislature in 2008 authorized money for the improvements, few other capital projects were being approved.

“No one was more surprised than we were,” said Cliff Milligan, center vice president of building services.

Supporters had been lobbying for eight years to get some of the work approved, he said.

With the improvements, the center “will become a 21st century venue, fully capable of housing any imaginable production,” Center President Stephen Klein said.

More than $4 million of work is being done to replace the ceiling and hydraulic rigging system in Whitney Hall, and to upgrade its acoustics. The present rigging system is more than 20 years old. The new one will be powered by an electric motor. Because of engineering and design time, the improvements to Whitney won’t be completed until mid-2011, said Steve Woodring, the center’s director of productions.

“When the hydraulic stage systems are upgraded in 2011, audiences will hear the orchestra — for the first time in many years — in the original acoustical design that the architects had planned,” said Robert Birman, the Louisville Orchestra’s chief executive officer.

Other improvements to the venue will include work on the exterior, lighting, seats, bathrooms, stages and elevators.

Also in Whitney Hall, and the smaller Bomhard and MeX Theaters, lighting will be replaced with a more energy-efficient system for about $1.43 million.

The Whitney stage — which dancers complained did not have any spring, Woodring said — will get a new floor, estimated to cost $240,000.


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