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Budget plan eliminates county funding for Owensboro's RiverPark Center

Kentucky Tourism

A performing arts venue in Owensboro could lose county funding due to controversy surrounding some of its programming.

Last year, Daviess County Fiscal Court provided the RiverPark Center with more than $12,000. The proposed budget for the 2023-24 fiscal year eliminates funding for the entertainment venue.

RiverPark has been scrutinized since adding monthly drag showsfor adult-only audiences. Judge-Executive Charlie Castlen said that’s a large part of why he zeroed the center’s funding.

“When they have created something as divisive as it’s been in our community, and they readily admit they’re losing money on it, and yet they keep doing it, it’s almost as though they’re saying, 'We don’t need your money,'" Castlen said.

During a fiscal court work session on Wednesday, Commissioner Chris Castlen urged county government to keep RiverPark’s funding at the existing level.

“They’re not only bring in shows, but they’re putting people in hotels and putting people in restaurants, and those are all things that come back to us as a fiscal court with the tax that comes from those things," the commissioner said.

WKU Public Radio reached out to RiverPark Center Executive Director Rich Jorn, but didn't receive a response.

Daviess County Fiscal Court will vote on the proposed budget on May 4.

A bill died in the Kentucky General Assembly this year that would have imposed a statewide ban on drag shows.

Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum. She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years. Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville. She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky. Many of her stories have been heard on NPR.