SKyPAC is proud to present a new 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.
As one of South Central Kentucky’s most successful figures, Ervin G. Houchens was dedicated to enhancing the quality of life through an investment in others. Despite his success in the grocery store chain business Mr. Houchens never lost his rural Kentucky roots, especially when it came to his generosity to this area.
The Capitol Arts Center was one of many organizations benefited by Mr. Houchens. At the inception of the Bowling Green-Warren County Arts Commission a group of volunteers approached Mr. Houchens for a loan. The Houchens Foundation made a $35,000 interest-free loan to fund the purchase of the Capitol Theatre on Main Street. He later forgave the loan in-full which was characteristic of many loans he made. The Ervin G. Houchens Gallery was named in his honor for this donation. Years after the dream of the Capitol became a reality in the 1990’s Mr. Houchens’ Foundation made another significant contribution to the Capitol Arts Center Endowment Fund. His gifts continue to have an everlasting effect on people in South Central Kentucky through the ARTS.
Ensuing generations have followed Mr. Houchens’ example. His only daughter Covella Houchens Biggers, the Houchens Foundation Chair has made numerous gifts to SKYPAC since its inception. Both through the foundation and personally, Mrs. Biggers has been a constant supporter of the ARTS in our region in her lifetime. Likewise, Mr. Houchens’ only granddaughter, Lynne Biggers Martin, who currently chairs the Houchens Foundation, has been a longtime Capitol Arts Center supporter and donor to SKyPAC causes such as the annual Gingerbread Homes for the Arts Festival. Mr. Houchens’ granddaughter-in-law, Erin O. Biggers is also an ARTS donor as well as leading Special Events for SKYPAC since 2011.We APPLAUD the Houchens Foundation and family for continuing to live the philanthropic legacy of Mr. Houchens. Just as he demonstrated, their generosity has served to enrich our quality of life through the ARTS. The Houchens/Biggers family cutting the “film” ribbon in celebration of revitalization efforts at the Capitol Arts Center. The August 2019 event also honored Covella Houchens Biggers. Pictured L-R: Gil Biggers, Haley Biggers, Tara Biggers Parker, Katy Biggers Henon, Warren County Judge Executive Mike Buchanon, Lynne Biggers Martin, Cecil Martin, and SKyPAC President & CEO Tom Carto.
We Welcome Your Input:
If you were directly involved with area arts efforts, we would love to hear from you! Likewise, if you have historic articles, programs, or other arts-related materials from this area to be preserved, please email Rhankins@theskypac.com or call 270.904.5004.