Writing Lexington Children’s Theatre’s next chapter…

After forty years of service to arts education for young people and the community of Lexington, Kentucky, Larry and Vivian Snipes are stepping aside as Producing and Artistic Directors of Lexington Children’s Theatre (LCT) to let a new generation of theatre artists take the reins.  Their retirement will take effect at the end of 2020, making way for new leadership to begin LCT’s next chapter.

Enjoy Larry and Vivian’s table read about our next chapter… 

Give to the Larry and Vivian Snipes Legacy Fund

Since 1979, the Snipes have worked tirelessly to ensure access to the arts for generations of Kentucky children and families, and LCT’s Board of Directors and staff want to ensure that their legacy lives on through the establishment of a legacy fund.  While it may be time for the Snipes to retire, that doesn’t mean they are done dreaming of all that LCT can be.  Their hope is that a legacy fund will allow the new leadership to “focus on the work and the art and the exploration” and to take risks, but lead with “their heart and lead with their passion for what we can do.” 

In the summer of 1979, Larry and Vivian were on their honeymoon when they received a call from the Board of Directors offering Larry the position of Producing Director – just a few weeks later, they moved to Lexington to begin transforming the organization into a professional theatre.  That year, LCT’s budget was $40,000.  Today, LCT is a $1,300,000 company providing arts and arts education to over 100,000 young people across Kentucky and beyond every year.  And though they would be the first to point to the hundreds of artists and administrators that have worked at LCT over the last 40 years as the cause, this is in very large part due to Larry and Vivian Snipes. 

It is no exaggeration to state that over a million children have participated in programming with LCT during the Snipes’ tenure, whether they saw a touring production in their school, took a theatre school class, or came to see a play on a field trip.   Whether through working with the Snipes directly or one of the hundreds of teaching artists, directors, or interns that have proudly served under them, generations of Kentucky’s young people have had the privilege of learning the values, ideals, and integrity that have made the Snipes remarkable leaders for the last 40 years. 

The Board of Directors for Lexington Children’s Theatre, led by Board President Ann-Phillips Mayfield, is excited to announce that Jeremy Kisling has been promoted to Interim Producing & Artistic Director, assuming the position in full January 1, 2021. He will report directly to the Board and oversee production and education.  Kisling will be the senior leader of the staff and work with them in an ongoing restructuring effort to reimagine the vision and mission of the theatre in light of COVID-19 and the impact that it has had on the theatre and the community. 

Rachel Ray has been promoted to Interim Managing Director and will oversee all operational and business functions. Ray will work with Tiffany Dupont Novak, who was promoted to Interim Director of Marketing and Community Outreach Both will also assume their full positions January 1, 2021. 

“Our theatre has long been blessed with an incredible breadth of hard-working, dedicated, and talented staff members,” Board President Ann-Phillips Mayfield says. “Jeremy’s respect for what the theatre has been and vision for what it can become is inspiring.  Keeping a theatre going, in the midst of a pandemic, has been no easy challenge and Jeremy, along with Rachel and Tiffany, has risen to the occasion time and time again with a deep knowledge, insight, talent, and innovative ideas.  The Board is excited and stands ready to support them as they work together to write the next chapter of Lexington Children’s Theatre’s story and continue the legacy of success that has long been held here.” 

Given our current climate, this may seem like a tough time to undertake a transition in leadership, but the Snipes are confident it is the right move.  Not only has it been in the works for several years, but as Larry points out, it takes the burden away from new leadership, because they will not have to try to maintain the status quo.  And as Vivian says, they will have time to “find their strengths… and carry the organization forward in whatever direction they choose.” 

For Larry and Vivian, it all comes back to the young people – as Vivian says, “it’s about a student on stage finally making connections with the word and understanding that there’s meaning behind the words rather than just the words on the page.”  It is about every person finding the artistry within, learning empathy and providing opportunities, and opening young people’s eyes to the possibilities in life.  What better way to honor the legacy of a lifetime of work than ensuring that all young people in Kentucky have these opportunities? 

LCT’s Board of Directors and staff are asking our supporters to help us write LCT’s next chapter by creating a fund that will sustain the theatre through the next several years, honor the legacy of Larry and Vivian, and underwrite the big ideas our new leadership will bring.   

While this chapter in LCT (and the Snipes’) story may be ending, a new one is ready to begin.  While the community will be sad to see the Snipes go, it is also a time to celebrate all they have built.  As Vivian says, “Once upon a time, a group of people got together and created a theatre.  And then…”   

To learn more about the Larry and Vivian Snipes Legacy Fund, or to make your contribution click the link below or contact Development Director Ashlee Collins at acollins@lctonstage.org or 859.254.4546 x230.

Give to the Larry and Vivian Snipes Legacy Fund