Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center kicks off holiday season

Emma Austin

Families were greeted by Christmas music, festive decorations and the smell of gingerbread upon entering the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center last week to celebrate art and the beginning of the holiday season.

SKyPAC hosted its second annual Gingerbread Homes for the Arts holiday kick-off event the Saturday before Thanksgiving. The community day invited families and organizations from the area for various Christmas-themed activities, functioning as a fundraiser to support SKyPAC’s arts education outreach.

“It’s open for everybody to come in and enjoy and celebrate the arts,” Jessica Snodgrass, marketing and visual arts gallery director at SKyPAC, said. “It’s been a hit. We’re packed to the brim in the visual arts gallery.”

SKyPAC hosted a gingerbread house contest with 50 entries on display in the gallery, giving visitors a chance to vote for their favorite house. The contest included three categories: professional, amateur and youth. Participants included the WKU architect club, Chi Omega sorority, girl scout troops and bakeries and schools in Bowling Green.

The gallery also displayed an exhibit titled “Ninety-Nine Candy Canes on the Wall,” a collection of drawings and paintings of various candy cane-inspired artwork, including visual portrayals of elves, rabbits and birds.

A “merry market” was set up in the lobby of the theater where local artisans sold their work.

Bowling Green wire artist Jill Gentry, owner of Blue Malibu Wire Jewelry, displayed an assorted collection of jewelry she made by hand from stones and wire.

“It’s a lot of fun to see the families come in,” Gentry said. “I get lots of kids interested in the rocks, and they like looking at them.”

Bowling Green resident Brittany Wimpee came with her family for the first time after finding out about the event on Facebook. She said the event provided an opportunity for kids to learn more about art.

Snodgrass said the activities are a great way for families to have a hands-on experience with visual art.

“It’s kind of a way to merge performing arts, visual arts, culinary arts, dance arts,” Snodgrass said.

If they weren’t busy decorating gingerbread houses or taking pictures with Santa Claus, visitors could also sit and watch musical and theatrical performances throughout the day. Members of the Public Theatre of Kentucky performed a scene from “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever”; dancers and singers also performed, including WKU Dance and church choruses.

“It’s really about collaborating and being inclusive and celebrating the arts together and enriching the lives of the community through the arts,” Snodgrass said.

Reporter Emma Austin can be reached at 270-745-2655 and [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @emmacaustin.