OVATION! A Performing Arts Bash

With West Louisville ecoHUB Arts Community Founder John Shaw-Woo

John Shaw-Woo.

On July 21, a new kind of creative celebration and fundraiser will take place in one of the city’s most underserved areas. The West Louisville ecoHUB Arts Community (TWLEAC) will host OVATION at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage and will present a special honor to Councilwoman Barbara Sexton Smith, a long-time champion for both her constituents in West Louisville and the arts community. To learn more about the event, we spoke with TWLEAC founder John Shaw-Woo, who will present the award to the councilwoman along with Mayor Greg Fischer.


“TWLEAC project is a collaborative effort by arts organizations, community leaders, activists, corporations and concerned citizens. We know that art education is a companion of change for disadvantaged children and teens with limited to no access to top-notch performing arts education,” Shaw-Woo said.

TWLEAC’s mission is to establish permanent performing arts programming in West Louisville for disadvantaged children and youths. “​The OVATION event will help raise the needed funds to launch TWLEAC program on July 23. Four arts groups will provide back-to-back 55-minute classes to 105 children​ for eight days followed by a closing camp performance on Aug. 3 to showcase what was learned over the two-week period,” he said. Performing Arts programming is facilitated by Commonwealth Theatre, Kentucky Shakespeare, Louisville Ballet and University of Louisville School of Music.


The short-term goal is to raise the needed funds to support TWLEAC’s two-week summer camp and to support TWLEAC’s after-school performing arts program, which will be held at West Louisville libraries and community centers free of charge to all Louisville children in hopes of eliminating the long-standing racial and economic ​“Ninth Street Divide” issue. “Our long-term goal is to expand TWLEAC after-school performing arts program into a four-hour program, which will include performing arts, tutoring and empowerment classes,” explained Shaw-Woo.


“OVATION will be an evening of excitement, discovery and motivation!​ ​There will be performances by Louisville Ballet, cellist Candace Diggs, pianist Idris Fredrick, terpsichorean Kristen Findley, a special performance by The Kentucky Gentlemen, and dancing sounds by DJ John Q.

“At the event, ​Barbara Sexton Smith will be presented with our 2018 OVATION Arts Award​ by Mayor Greg Fischer and myself. Barbara Sexton Smith was selected for this honor because of her years of service at Fund For the Arts and for her unwavering commitment to improving lives in West Louisville,” Shaw-Woo said.

Other speakers at the event will include President David James of Louisville Metro Council; Bradley Broecker, the founder of the PNC Broadway in Louisville Series; Denise Sears, president and CEO of Supplies Over Seas; renowned sculptor Ed Hamilton; Gordon Brown, former CEO of Home of the Innocents; and Councilwoman Jessica Green.


“Community members interested in supporting TWLEAC efforts can either donate through our ‘donate’ button on our website or secure tickets to OVATION through ​our ‘buy tickets’ button located at TWLEAC.org.”   

Barbara Sexton Smith.
Photo by Andrea Hutchinson.

A Q&A with Councilwoman and OVATION Honoree Barbara Sexton Smith

Why do you believe supporting the arts is so vital for the community of West Louisville?

The arts are critically important to West Louisville for so many reasons. Firstly, they are inculcated in its history and played a vital role in the original economic development of the old Walnut Street corridor. Red-lining bulldozed that away and we must work vigilantly (to restore) the vitality and opportunity for wealth creation by residents in the area.

Secondly, the arts help children create a vision they could never imagine on their own. The arts place hope in the hearts of these children, and as we know, “As a man thinketh in his heart so is he.” (The) same goes for little girls and grown women.

An arts-rich landscape will improve a child’s self confidence, school attendance, academic achievement and graduation rate. The arts can be used as crime prevention. Give a child something meaningful to do after school and watch them seek positive activities whilst keeping them out of harm’s way.

Tell us about your involvement with West Louisville ecoHUB. What do you look forward to seeing the organization accomplish in the months and years to come?

The ecoHUB is becoming another wonderful piece of the mosaic depicting the land of opportunity in our beautiful, historic Russell Neighborhood. Our community’s greatest asset? Our children! All we have to do is show up and support the ecoHUB!

How have you seen the arts community develop and evolve during your years of service to the city?

I’ve spent more than 20 years watching the arts transform lives. We watched many children in West Louisville become the first in their family to graduate from college all because they used the arts as their vehicle. It is my hope that ecoHUB will become another great vehicle in which children can choose to navigate their journey.

Together, through the arts, we create a great connected community. VT

OVATION Performing Arts Bash

6 p.m. July 21

The Kentucky Center for
African American Heritage

1701 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd.




Exclusive artist showcase

6 p.m. private VIP reception, $100

Craft cocktails


Complimentary valet parking

Dance party experience

7 p.m.


Sounds by DJ John Q

Late-night snacks

Cash bar

*Portion of ticket price is tax deductible

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