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February 27, 2008

Lexington bows in

Rich Copley

Now that Ashley Lindstrom has broken the ice as the newest Flyover blogger, please allow me to bow in. I'm Rich Copley, culture writer for the Lexington Herald-Leader, primarily covering performing arts and film.

That is a gig I am proud to say, as of March 9, I will have had for 10 years. Like a lot of young writers, when I took the job, I thought we'd be here three-to-five years and then off to a bigger town with bigger theaters, orchestras and all that. But, in the intervening time, my wife and I had a second child, we settled into jobs and schools, and we are now buying our second house in Lexington. We've stayed. And that hasn't been hard to do. The Bluegrass is one of the most beautiful regions of the country, and Lexington is a place where you can kind of set your pace. It's a small city or a big town, depending on how you look at it, and there are lots of ways to look at it.

Professionally, this job continues to be intriguing and exciting.

One of the major growths in Lexington arts over the past decade has been an increased professionalism. Several groups that were once headed by the most interested, most qualified locals have since conducted national searches for leadership, including Actors Guild of Lexington, our leading theater for general audiences, and LexArts, our united arts fund organization. The University of Kentucky plays a major role in our arts community, including giving Lexington a de facto opera company, and there are numerous other colleges and U's in the region that are active in producing art and artists who play significant roles in the cultural life of our area.

If you travel north, you hit Cincinnati, with the Cincinnati Symphony, Playhouse in the Park and a bunch of other arts groups. Due west is Louisville, where the 30th edition of the Humana Festival of New American Plays is just getting started at Actors Theatre. With either town, it's easy for people from Lexington to run up, take in a show, and still go to sleep in their own beds that night.

Sometimes people try to say nothing's going on here, and my standard reply is, "Well then, why am I so busy?"

Adding to the adventure of this job is the fact that in journalism, things have definitely changed. Maybe I should have written, above, that I am a writer for the Lexington Herald-Leader, Kentucky.com and Lexgo.com. And I also maintain a blog called Copious Notes. Like many papers, we are actively exploring new media, which has really exciting implications for arts journalism.

We'll talk about that. I'll talk about a lot of things happening here and in cultural journalism that have resonance in the Heartland, Outback, Flyover country, or whatever we choose to call it.

It's exciting to join this blog, which I have been reading since its inception. I told Joe, John, Bridgette and Jen that being asked to join Flyover was like being asked to join your favorite band. I'll try to keep a steady rhythm.

Posted by Rich Copley at February 27, 2008 8:35 PM


Hey Rich! We're super-glad to have you aboard. As I've mentioned to you before, I'm originally from Lexington and still have a soft place in my heart for the place (and for the Wildcats!). I'm excited about what your voice will bring to the blog.

Posted by: Joe Nickell at February 28, 2008 8:25 AM

Just wanted to second what Joe said... we're very happy to have you on board, Rich, as well as Ashley and some other new folks who will be appearing soon.

This part of what you said really hit home for me: "Sometimes people try to say nothing's going on here, and my standard reply is, 'Well then, why am I so busy?'"

I think the same is true of Madison. Those who gripe about local cultural offerings, in my opinion, are often trying to seem as if they are too hip or worldly for what is going on here. On the contrary, I think they sound out of touch. If you can't find plenty to do here, and plenty of variety, you're not tryin'. Whether you want to see an opera or an all-ages, open-to-the-public music show in someone's basement (really!), you can do that here.

Posted by: Jennifer Smith at February 28, 2008 11:50 AM

hi Rich and glad to see you beat me to it at getting some thoughts down in writing here! I too am happy to be a part of the blog and have entered recently into your world a bit as I just started up writing again for a local weekly in addition to my architectural day job. I can relate to your descriptions of your local arts scene and am looking forward to seeing how they compare to my own scene in the Triangle area of NC. Looking forward to checking out more of your posts!

Posted by: Dave Delcambre at February 28, 2008 8:20 PM

Rich! You sneaky dude! You didn't mention this on our email conversation--but you are the perfect choice, as I know from our martini [margarita]/Scotch talks in NY, likely to contribute fascinating discussion and experienced art journalist talk. Really, this is just superb. Hurray!

As for "nothing going on here," to me, it's not that there's nothing going on in Eugene; it's just that the things that go on in Portland are so much more exciting, if more expensive. Also, I moved here from Iowa City. It's much smaller than Eugene, but because of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, there are famous and excellent poets, fiction and sometimes nonfiction writers reading in IC almost every night; Hancher Auditorium provided the "big concert hall" for national acts like Sweet Honey in the Rock ... but wait, I live in Eugene now. And I'll post more about that when I get a password. ;-)

Posted by: Suzi at February 28, 2008 10:06 PM