Curtain Call: Arts in Education, A Remembrance of Ginny Miller

Posted on July 17, 2020

SKyPAC is proud to present a series honoring our area arts heritage. Each week we will highlight different trailblazers and turning points that have ushered us to the modern day arts opportunities this region now enjoys. We hope you will join us in saying “Bravo!” for the countless lives touched through the arts as a result of the vision and dedication of those documented in the paragraphs that follow.

Arts education has always been at the heart of the Capitol Arts Center, just as it is with SKyPAC today. Realizing the limited opportunities available for area children to have access to the arts, many of the earliest supporters of the Capitol were steadfast in their desire to expand arts experiences for this region.

“The only thing traveling was the circus and the Harlem Globetrotters in the 70’s,” recalled Mrs. Lucinda Anderson, “we wanted something for area children to go to.”

For many familiar with the Arts & Education program established at the Capitol Arts Center, there is one name that is almost synonymous with the role: Mrs. Ginny Miller.

From the early 80’s to the early 90’s Miller served as the Capitol Arts Center’s Education Director for nearly a decade. Prior to coming on board at the Capitol, Mrs. Miller was teaching dance at Parks & Rec and helped establish the dance program at Western Kentucky University. She loved dance and even taught ballet to some of the WKU football players in an effort to improve their coordination skills (talk about a role to prepare you for leading youth art & education)!

According to her son, Will Miller, some of his earliest (and fondest) memories from that time in his life are of his mother working at the Capitol. Both he and his sister, Claci (Miller) Juday, recalled memories of roaming the building after school. Juday described it as “a happy place to be.”

They were very involved with the Fountain Square Players (FSP). Like the Capitol, both children described their experiences with FSP as part of their family life. One of Ginny Miller’s most iconic roles was starring as Peter Pan in a FSP performance. Her vivacious personality was perfect for the character, which was made even more special by sharing the stage with her daughter, who played Tiger Lily.

L-R: Mitchell Berman and Scott Rudolph, as the Darling Brothers, Ginny Miller as Peter Pan

Both children have memories of picking up some of the entertainers from the airport with their mother and bringing them to the Capitol. One that each remembered fondly was Slim Goodbody. Juday also shared the story of her mother meeting Meryl Streep who was a neighbor of one of the Chapin brothers, a Capitol performer who had extended an invitation to Miller to visit him when she was in California.

Miller was often responsible for making decisions regarding programming opportunities related to arts education. Juday said her mother loved every minute of the programming and would often attend showcases to select performances to come to the Capitol.

“She enjoyed knowing she was finding something for everyone,” Juday said, expressing the passion her mother felt in knowing she could make a difference for people through their exposure to the arts.

In fact, you need not look any further than Miller’s own daughter to see an example of that. Juday went on to become a professional actress on Broadway, playing in both Showboat & Cats, as well as the national tour of Annie Get Your Gun. She attributes the positive experiences in the arts through the Capitol to this pursuit of her dream.

Recalling his mother’s passion and personality, Miller’s son said she made it a point to be a part of the community by involving herself in the performances as much as possible. He said she had a very welcoming demeanor that enabled her to build and foster relationships and that her time at the Capitol certainly took her to her next chapter at VSA (Very Special Arts) when she transitioned to that role around 1991 or 1992.

“The Arts Education program grew and matured during her tenure,” said Gerri Combs, former Executive Director of the Capitol Arts Center who worked alongside Miller. Combs described her as friendly, outgoing, and smart and “just a really nice person.” She also spoke of Miller’s great intuition on shows and said her background and interest in teaching made her a good arts education advocate.

During Miller’s time as the Education Director, each year the school day performances series bussed more than 20,000 students from 16 counties to the Capitol Arts Center for the best available touring shows. Similarly the Arts-In-Education Program allowed students to benefit from the many talented artists in our area and the Summer Arts Day Camp taught young people the many aspects of the arts including music, painting, and drama. Other special projects and events also rounded out the Capitol’s Arts Education offerings.

Miller passed away in February 2010 but her arts legacy to this area lives on. Just like the character she is often remembered for portraying, Ginny Miller’s contributions to the arts education of this region remains forever young as part of the vibrant heritage of the Capitol Arts Center. We are proud to honor her enduring efforts for stirring a passion for the arts in South Central Kentucky, always with a twinkle of pixie dust in her eyes!

Both children have memories of picking up some of the entertainers from the airport with their mother and bringing them to the Capitol. One that each remembered fondly was Slim Goodbody. Juday also shared the story of her mother meeting Meryl Streep who was a neighbor of one of the Chapin brothers, a Capitol performer who had extended an invitation to Miller to visit him when she was in California.

Miller was often responsible for making decisions regarding programming opportunities related to arts education. Juday said her mother loved every minute of the programming and would often attend showcases to select performances to come to the Capitol.

“She enjoyed knowing she was finding something for everyone,” Juday said, expressing the passion her mother felt in knowing she could make a difference for people through their exposure to the arts.

In fact, you need not look any further than Miller’s own daughter to see an example of that. Juday went on to become a professional actress on Broadway, playing in both Showboat & Cats, as well as the national tour of Annie Get Your Gun. She attributes the positive experiences in the arts through the Capitol to this pursuit of her dream.

Recalling his mother’s passion and personality, Miller’s son said she made it a point to be a part of the community by involving herself in the performances as much as possible. He said she had a very welcoming demeanor that enabled her to build and foster relationships and that her time at the Capitol certainly took her to her next chapter at VSA (Very Special Arts) when she transitioned to that role around 1991 or 1992.

“The Arts Education program grew and matured during her tenure,” said Gerri Combs, former Executive Director of the Capitol Arts Center who worked alongside Miller. Combs described her as friendly, outgoing, and smart and “just a really nice person.” She also spoke of Miller’s great intuition on shows and said her background and interest in teaching made her a good arts education advocate.

During Miller’s time as the Education Director, each year the school day performances series bussed more than 20,000 students from 16 counties to the Capitol Arts Center for the best available touring shows. Similarly the Arts-In-Education Program allowed students to benefit from the many talented artists in our area and the Summer Arts Day Camp taught young people the many aspects of the arts including music, painting, and drama. Other special projects and events also rounded out the Capitol’s Arts Education offerings.

Miller passed away in February 2010 but her arts legacy to this area lives on. Just like the character she is often remembered for portraying, Ginny Miller’s contributions to the arts education of this region remains forever young as part of the vibrant heritage of the Capitol Arts Center. We are proud to honor her enduring efforts for stirring a passion for the arts in South Central Kentucky, always with a twinkle of pixie dust in her eyes!

A promotional television segment featuring a performance by Ginny Miller and Melinda Crawford as part of the Peter Pan performance is available at: https://youtu.be/DjqFjUYcoAI

All photos and video link are provided by Will Miller. A special thanks to Will Miller and his sister, Claci (Miller) Juday for sharing these memories of their mother.

WE WELCOME YOUR INPUT: This series is a work in progress based on your feedback and remembrances. If you were involved in area arts efforts and have photos, programs, or other information related to the Capitol Arts Center or SKyPAC, please contact Rob Hankins at 270.904.5004 or email rhankins@theskypac.com.

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