During a “Secret Show” Friday night, LeAnne Musick Caselden and others unveiled initial stages of plans to bring the performing arts scene to the forefront of downtown Owensboro.
That includes a partnership with Kentucky Wesleyan College, who hired Musick Studios to complete their “triple-threat” arts program encompassing theatre, music and dance.
Caselden opened Musick Studios in 2008, and since the beginning she had a dream of expanding the love of arts in Owensboro.
Last month when Caselden and her husband Ken purchased the building they had been renting for nearly 14 years on East Second street, it was like another piece of the puzzle coming together.
“People always knew me as LeAnne Musick, but my husband and I are a unit. He is my backbone,” Caselden said. “It was important for us to do this since we had been downtown so long. We wanted to secure the legacy of Musick Studios.”
Purchasing the building for future growth was a huge part of their vision.
“We will use expansion to impact this city in the arts, health, and economic development,” Caselden said.
Friday night’s “Secret Show,” which was held at the Bluegrass Hall of Fame & Museum, gave viewers a sneak peek at the potential partnership and what the two entities hope to accomplish. Ultimately, that’s helping boost the performing arts scene on a grand scale.
Jada Prater, who is Caselden’s daughter and danced at Musick Studios for 13 years, spoke about the importance of having opportunities locally for students in the performing arts after high school.
“I always knew dance was my passion,” Prater said. “It wasn’t until my junior year that I was introduced to performing arts as a whole — singing, acting and dancing. I realized it was what I loved, but here in Owensboro I didn’t have anywhere to go after high school, anywhere to pursue, so I made the decision to go somewhere else because here I felt limited.”
Prater spoke on behalf of other college students, saying more students might choose to stay close to home by expanding arts beyond K-12.
“We don’t have to leave anymore,” she said. “We can stay here, one art student at a time.”
Caselden hopes to create a space that will serve up to 1,200 students annually.
Considering all aspects of the arts, the studio owner sees a future that ties in the Theatre Workshop of Owensboro, Owensboro Symphony, Bluegrass Museum, RiverPark Center, and Musick Studios.
“It’s going to grow our city,” she said. “If every one of us can get on the same page for the right reasons, putting education first and bringing in the arts, it’s going to do great things for Owensboro.”
Choreographer for Kentucky Wesleyan College and Owensboro Public Schools dance instructor Shauna Jones says she is thrilled to be part of the expansion.
“Art is a valuable part of our lives,” Jones said. “Careers in the arts are so needed. With the proper education and foundations, it’s competitive. For us to be inserted into the music and theatre department at Kentucky Wesleyan College, we can all benefit from each other and collaborations are already happening.”
The “Secret Show” included performances by 45 dance students — including tap, jazz, lyrical, acro and hip hop numbers. Caselden was pleased to see the potential of the arts presence downtown and wanted to showcase to the community all that is possible.
“Owensboro is shifting, it’s changing,” she said. “The generations that are coming are ready to see this city thrive. It’s exactly what Owensboro needs, to bring the arts to the forefront.”