Council OKs funds for Foster drama to examine show’s potrayal of black history

The Bardstown City Council met Tuesday evening via Zoom videoconferencing software.

Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

Tuesday, July 14, 2020 — The Bardstown City Council approved a $5,000 donation to the Stephen Foster Drama Association to fund the creation and operation of a Black History Advisory Council that will examine “specific elements of our shows and create supplemental content to help provide historic context and examine present-day value in accurately and carefully depicting Black History through art.”


According to Johnny Warren, the drama’s executive artistic director, the funds will be used to create new content — web pages, video, signage, etc. — and pay for printing new materials as the council determines are necessary to better reflect accurate portrayals of black history of the period.

“We feel it is time to double down on our efforts to make sure the depictions of black history in the Drama are accurate and appropriate,” Warren told the council.

Drama cast member and assistant director Donna Phillips — a musician, seminary student and playwright — told the council that the drama contains a lot of racial elements in the show, and many people may not “get” the show’s depiction of the oppression of blacks.

The council will help put the show in context, she said. The council will examine how black characters are portrayed in the show, and work to create educational opportunities for the audience to learn more and broaden the drama experience.

The council will also mean that the Stephen Foster Story scripts will be revised as part of the review process before the opening of the 2021 season.

“This new approach is something whose time has come,” Councilman Roland Williams told the council “I commend Johnny and Donna for making us aware they want to do this.”

The council also approved a second $5,000 donation to the Drama association to fund a post-COVID-19 marketing plan as they look ahead to the 2021 outdoor theater season.

BETHANY HAVEN DONATION. The council approved a $10,000 community development grant for Bethany Haven, the homeless shelter that also operates the “Room at the Inn” program that offers short-term shelter to homeless individuals.

Bethany Haven director Matt Bowman told the council more than 20 local churches and religious organizations participate to help with the “Rom at the Inn” program.

The donation request is the same amount that the organization received last year from the city council. The organization also received $10,000 from Nelson Fiscal Court.

The money will be used to help cover the organization’s operating costs, Bowman explained.

The COVID-19 pandemic interrupted the operation of the “Room at the Inn” program because a large number of volunteers were those most at-risk of the Coronavirus. Rather than shelter individuals in the participating churches, the program partnered with a local hotel where the organization could pay to house the homeless overnight.

As of June 10th, the program returned to its normal method of operation, he said.

Bowman said he expects there will be many more people seeking shelter later this year once the moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent is lifted. Officials say 20 percent of renters failed to pay their rent in May and June, and that a large number of evictions are expected.

“We truly are the last safety net for individuals,” Bowman said. ” By the time they come to us they are homeless.”

In other business, the council:

— heard a report by Aaron Boles, the city’s chief financial officer, that the joint city-county small business relief program has awarded $2,000 grants to 73 Nelson County businesses. The program was funded by CARES Act funds provided by the City of Bardstown and Nelson Fiscal Court.

— approved a request to pay an extra $9,955 to cover the cost of a primer sealer that will be applied to the floor of the new fire station equipment bay to insure that the epoxy floor coating doesn’t peel due to moisture.

— approved a bid from Mago for the city’s asphalt provider at $77.50 a ton.

— approved a sign request for Bardstown Bourbon Co. The company submitted a campus master sign plan that will allow for sufficient signage for the company’s campus in the Nelson County Industrial Park.

— approved a resolution honoring Larry Hamilton who served the city as an engineer and public works director for 45 years.


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