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Living Arts & Science Center slowly reopens after pandemic, financial hits

Posted at 8:31 AM, Mar 05, 2021

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Throughout the pandemic, we've seen the challenges businesses and organizations have faced, but we also saw success stories from ones that overcame those struggles.

For 53 years, The Living Arts & Science Center in Lexington has been a spot for learning and creativity for all ages. However, when the pandemic hit, there went the in-person classes, gallery visits, and revenue for the nonprofit.

“Because most of our revenue comes from having camps and field trips in the building, we saw about $300,000 less in revenue this past year. So, we really relied on those donors and some organizations that granted us some funding for specific things,” said Lead Discovery Educator Ashlee Collins.

Collins said they had to cut costs, including furloughing half of their full-time staff.

With loss came some growth though, as the center gained a larger audience after offering more virtual programming.

“We've created a YouTube channel. We're on Facebook Live every Tuesday at 10 (a.m.),” said Collins. “Some of our Pre-K Art Day videos where we would have only 15 participants in person, we saw up to 400 people watch the video online.”

One year since closing its doors to the public, the center is slowly getting back to what's it known for -- a more hands-on experience. Art gallery viewings are now open by appointment and in just a few weeks, students will return to the classrooms for Spring Break Camp.

“We reduced our class sizes, so we won't see as many students here on campus, but that just means we get to work more directly with those students that we do get to have here,” said Collins. “We've got a Shark Week camp. We've got a Dynamic Disney visual art camp. We've got wheel throwing and clay classes and even virtual classes for those families who would prefer to have their students join us virtually.”

Looking further ahead, Collins says they hope to bring back summer family events and reopen the planetarium to the public. She says they continue to be motivated by the mental and physical benefits the arts and sciences offer and the need for that during this time.

Registration for the Spring Break Camp is still open.