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SKyPAC launches resident theatre company after $1.75 million gift

Dalton York
Arts of Southern Kentucky President Jeff Reed (left) watches as donor Robert Ramsey (at podium) speaks on the formation of the Ramsey Theatre Company.

A professional theatre company is coming to Bowling Green after a $1.75 million gift from businessman and philanthropist Robert Ramsey.

The donation, the largest in the history of the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center (SKyPAC), was announced Monday and will launch the Ramsey Theatre Company. The new group will produce at least three Broadway shows per season on the SKyPAC stage.

The company will cast paid, professional actors in leading roles while seeking out local talent to round out the ensemble. The Bowling Green-based Orchestra Kentucky will provide orchestration for musical productions.

SKyPAC President Jeff Reed said the announcement means Bowling Green will no longer be forced to rely on one-night touring productions to bring Broadway to the community.

“Mr. Ramsey’s generous gift will transform the arts in our community,” Reed said. “In the past, our musical theatre offerings have been limited to touring shows. Out of those, few are available for one-night bookings, and often weekday evenings. Quality was often inconsistent as well.”

Ramsey is a lifelong supporter of the arts and said the gift is meant to ensure residents of Bowling Green don’t have to travel far to see a professional Broadway show. He said he hopes this is just the beginning of new theatre opportunities in the region.

“We hope that the Ramsey Theatre Company will be the beginning of more entertainment things and more shows, bringing more Broadway to Bowling Green. I just hope the people in this area will continue to support it,” Ramsey said.

SKyPAC Education Director Elise Charny will direct Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, the Ramsey Theatre Company’s first production. She said the SKyPAC staff is overwhelmed by Ramsey’s generosity and what it will mean for the local arts community.

“They are making my dreams come true today,” Charny said. “I could not be more thrilled and honored with this moving forward.”

The announcement comes after recent upheaval in SKyPAC funding and operations. In 2020, the Warren County Fiscal Court assisted in turning over management of SKyPAC to Orchestra Kentucky. The new organization, Arts of Southern Kentucky, unites SKyPAC, Orchestra Kentucky, and the Ramsey Theatre Company under the same administrative umbrella.

The company’s production of Beauty and the Beast will debut at the SKyPAC on June 24, 2023.