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Our History

Governor's School for the Arts (GSA) was established as a program of The Kentucky Center for the Arts and Kentucky Department of the Arts; Inaugurated under Governor Martha Layne Collins and The Kentucky Center President Marlow Burt.

120 students make up GSA’s first class, attending in six disciplines:  Creative Writing, Dance, Drama, Instrumental Music, Visual Art, and Vocal Music.

KET airs a special program, “Governor’s School for the Arts – Getting In!”

GSA’s summer program alumni base reaches 1,000.

Musical Theatre added as a discipline.  GSA summer program enrollment increases to 200 students.  GSA moves from Louisville’s Bellarmine College to Lexington’s Transylvania University.

Architecture added as a discipline.  GSA hosts students from Irish Academy of the Arts.  GSA reunion at The Kentucky Center as it celebrates 20 years as the state’s performing arts center.

GSA inaugural exchange program with the North West Academy of the Arts.  GSA recognized as a national semifinalist for the “Coming Up Taller” Award by the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities.

GSA recognized with Governor’s Award in the Arts.

GSA receives National Endowment for the Arts Summer Schools in the Arts grant.  GSA holds reunion at Transylvania University for 20th Anniversary.

New Media added as a discipline.

GSA celebrates the 25th Anniversary in the Bomhard Theater at The Kentucky Center


GSA moves summer program to Centre College.
GSA’s summer program alumni base reaches 5,000.

GSA welcomes the largest summer program class, 256 students.

GSA moves summer program to the University of Kentucky. The Kentucky Center becomes Kentucky Performing Arts, a campus of venues including The Brown Theatre, The Kentucky Center, and a new venue -- Old Forester's Paristown Hall. GSA becomes a program of KPA.

GSA doubles in size, welcoming a class of 512 students across two sessions at the University of Kentucky. This historic class size is made possible by the Kentucky Department of Education, who awards GSA a grant to be paid out over three years, ensuring higher acceptance numbers through the 2024 summer program. 

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