Artists ‘take over’ city offices, help expand services, outreach


LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Three local artists are now working inside Lexington city offices to help government employees explore new ways to engage residents and develop creative new projects.

“The artists are here! I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunities that creates for our community and our employees,” Mayor Linda Gorton said.

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CivicLex, Blue Grass Community Foundation and the City are working together to create a “Civic Artist-in-Residence” program.

“At CivicLex, we know that creative thinking can help us find new ways of bringing together residents and city government,” said Richard Young, Executive Director of CivicLex. “Reinforcing trust in Democracy must be rooted in building relationships, and we are so excited that LFUCG has seen the potential for this program to do just that.”

Although this program is new to Lexington and a first for Kentucky, civic artist-in-residence programs are a nationally-recognized model for developing new approaches to transforming city government. The program is funded, in part, by a federal Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

“Blue Grass Community Foundation is excited to partner in this endeavor. Grants from the National Endowment for the Arts are highly competitive, so receiving this award in Lexington is a testament to the innovative and important work of CivicLex, the vibrancy of our arts community, and the openness of city government to look at creative, fresh approaches to the delivery of services to residents,” said Lisa Adkins, Foundation President and CEO.

The program was developed over the past 18 months by a 26-member Advisory Committee that included city employees and community members. The Advisory Committee solicited applications from Fayette County-based artists and selected three finalists who will work in the Environmental Quality and Public Works, Social Services, and Finance departments.

  • The three artists selected, from 56 applicants, include:
  • Debra Faulk – Faulk, a native of Lexington, spent many years in Los Angeles as a stand-up comedienne and actress before she returned to Lexington to continue her theatrical work. She has been a guest lecturer with the University of Kentucky Department of Theatre and Dance, and with the Theatre of Hearts in Los Angeles. Faulk currently works with Kentucky Humanities portraying Nancy Green, the Kentucky activist, philanthropist and missionary, whose likeness became known as “Aunt Jemima.”   Debra will be working with the Family Care Center within the Department of Social Services.
  • Anthony Gilmore – Gilmore is a film producer and director whose work includes the documentary film, “Behind Forgotten Eyes.” It was named best documentary film at numerous film festivals including the Melbourne (Australia) Independent Film Festival, among others. Other films include “The Lion,” which focuses on a renowned Japanese Kabuki performer and “Play Money,” a dramatic feature film. Originally from Nebraska, Gilmore lived in Korea and Japan for numerous years, founded and directed the Nameless Theatre in Japan, and moved to Lexington with his family three years ago.  Gilmore will be working with the Environmental Quality and Public Works Department,
  • Hannah Allen – Hannah Allen is a quilter and fiber artist living in Lexington, Kentucky. Having grown up in the Lexington art community as a visual art student at SCAPA, Hannah experienced a variety of mediums from a young age, discovering a love of sewing and textile arts. After a long hiatus from art, instead studying and working in architectural history, she re-discovered her love of sewing in 2018. In 2019, she was a part of the Rita’s Quilt project, contributing the embroidered Kentucky square. The quilt was displayed at the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, KY in March 2020, and was featured on NPR, BBC, and Atlas Obscura. Her current work expresses the comfort of a handmade quilt, the joy of creative freedom, and the unexpected happiness in rediscovering past interests. Allen will be working with the Finance Department.