RiverPark Center Honored as an IMPACT 100 Recipient

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You will soon see the IMPACT of $100,000 on RiverPark Center’s main theatre, Cannon Hall.  Thanks to the women of IMPACT 100 Owensboro, RiverPark Center is a 2013 grant recipient for funding that will repair and replace Cannon Hall’s carpet and 1,000 seats.

“We are thrilled to receive Impact funds to help us update our most utilized theatre,” said Executive Director, Roxi Witt.   “As downtown Owensboro welcomes more and more out of town visitors, we want to put our best ‘seat’ forward!”

The women of Impact 100 recognized RiverPark Center’s need to replace frayed and worn carpet on the theater’s main level and to repair and replace seats that have served hundreds of thousands of people since RiverPark Center’s opening gala more than 21 years ago.

This year alone more than 80 performances and events will take place in Cannon Hall, serving an average of approximately 1,000 people each time.  The carpet and seat refurbishments will take place in phases and will be scheduled for installation during times that will not conflict with Cannon Hall’s use.

RiverPark Center truly appreciates Impact 100’s generous gift and we invite you to watch our progress as we utilize the funds to improve what is considered The Community’s Living Room – the place where we make memories together.


All Signs Point to Arts

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Despite hosting more than 600 events each year, we often hear that people just aren't sure what takes place at RiverPark Center (RPC). After evaluating several of our public relations efforts, we've determined that a missing ingredient is attractive, attention-grabbing signage that can show video, pictures and information in our own Lobby, and we are lucky enough to be eligible for a MATCHING GRANT to pay for the monitors!

So, we are asking you and others in the community to help pitch in a little. Please consider making a gift to be matched through the Power2Give websitethat will help fund the new monitors.  

The new modern signage will help RPC communicate our mission of improving the quality of life for our region because it will allow us to better inform the 170,000 visitors to RPC about the diverse events that take place.

RPC currently has static poster marquees located in the Foyer and at the furthest wall from the front door in the Lobby. These display cases are satisfactory for displaying a poster, but they do very little to relay striking, eye-catching information about the numerous diverse programs taking place at our performing arts and civic facility.

We would like to prominently mount an innovative digital sign in the Lobby entrance. We've selected an LG EzSign TV, which won "product of the year" from CRN and the Best Award from the Commercial Integrator magazine for digital signage hardware. This widescreen HDTV would maximize the impact of presenting information about upcoming events that include symphony concerts, Broadway shows, dance presentations, graduations, Arts education programs, free community events, and much more!

If you have any questions, please contact RiverPark Center's Development Office at 270-687-2770 ext. 225.



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Latest Developments Blog

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Latest Development Blog

No two days are ever the same, which is one of the reasons I love my job!  Last week began with a potluck for the designers and touring company of “Super Why! Live”.  What an amazing week it was:

Approximately 35 guests stayed in Owensboro for 5 days, generating 115 room nights and an economic impact of over $250,000!

480 preschoolers were enthralled, most of whom had never been to RiverPark Center before.

We shared with the actors their first opportunity to perform the show in front of an audience!


On another day, I was busy working with our technical staff to be certain that we could accommodate a CAR for “The Price is Right” – someone may have the chance to win a CAR at RiverPark Center.  There’s also lots of details about registering to be a contestant and on-site registration – all of which must be worked out long-distance long before the show arrives.

Roxi with the cast

Our newest “add-on” of the season is “Menopause, The Musical”.  We’ve had numerous meetings about the appropriate way to market the show – I can tell you from personal experience, it is a VERY FUNNY show and one you don’t want to miss.  Men, this is a great opportunity for you to suggest a girls night out to your wife or girlfriend, but if your manhood can take it, you’d love it too!


In between, we’re hosting 4 proms – Apollo, OHS, Spencer County and Ohio County.  Then we’re also the site for 3 graduations in six days, Western Kentucky University, Brescia University and Owensboro Community and Technical College, with the BBQ Festival Mutton Glutton thrown in the middle!


Come on down anytime and join us for the fun!







Preparing for a President's Visit

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Making Magic Happen at RiverPark Center

By Roxi Witt, RiverPark Center Executive Director



Note:   On Wednesday, March 6, 2013, RiverPark Center was the host site for a fundraising dinner to benefit the Wendell H. Ford Education Center and the event featured Former President Bill Clinton as the keynote speaker.   Many people have inquired as to how the spectacular event came to fruition.  This is the perspective from RiverPark’s Executive Director, Roxi Witt:


A visit from President Clinton

I often say I’ve got the best job in town and last week provided me with just another reason to say that!  It was a privilege and honor for RiverPark Center to be the site of the Ford Education Center fundraising dinner with President Bill Clinton.  How does such a major event like that happen?


It was last summer that I first received a call about a fundraising event for the Wendell H. Ford Education Center. We began checking possible dates as they were trying to get a notable guest.  By August there was a very quiet mention that it might be former President Bill Clinton.  I can assure you that got my heart racing – just imagining RiverPark Center hosting a former president.  It was one of those secrets that’s hard to keep, but oh so necessary!


Right after Christmas I was able to share the news with the RPC staff.  Soon the public announcement was made and our first meetings were held with a committee put together by Senator Ford and his family.  Since this was a fundraiser and we did have President Clinton as the guest speaker, the ticket prices were set at $1,000 per person.  This is unusual for Owensboro, but we would discover that this event would draw many, many people from outside Owensboro.  Senator Ford served as Lieutenant Governor, Governor and 4 terms as Senator and he had numerous staff members all over the world that wanted to share in this important evening with their mentor.


Tours of the RiverPark Center helped determine issues such as locations for dinner, President Clinton’s remarks, a private reception and photo line with the President and what would be the flow of people, including the President, for all the options.  As word began to spread about the event, and invitations were mailed, it quickly became apparent that a dinner in RiverPark ‘s lobby would not accommodate all the people attending.   The question became could we extend the Cannon Hall stage out over the seating area?  RiverPark Center got bids from local construction companies to do the work and the Owensboro Science and History Museum (home of the Ford Education Center) got bids from production companies for a portable extension.


Important decisions were made concerning catering and decorations.  Committee meetings were held with Senator Ford, Steve Ford and others.  As the stage extension became a reality, more walk-thrus were held at RPC, including with Senator Ford, again analyzing how to respectfully and carefully handle all the dignitaries that would be attending, including the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Mayors of Owensboro and Louisville, 3 former governors and other state elected officers.  So about 10 days prior to the event a plan was developed and presented to the Clinton Foundation for their consideration.

Cannon Hall at RiverPark Center

At the same time, the Committee received permission from the Clinton Foundation to sell $100 seats in the balcony to hear the remarks.  A production company from Louisville arrived 5 days before the event to remove Cannon Hall seats and install the stage extension.  Tables were set, decorations started; and then reservations continued to pour in – could we put even more tables on the stage – what was the maximum?  I continued to talk with the decorators, caters, our bar staff and committee members about attendance and events (receptions, VIP photos, etc.).  A walk-thru was held with a Clinton Foundation representative and a Secret Service agent.


Two days before the event, the Secret Service arrived and we spent 6 hours walking through the event from beginning to end again and again.  We also worked with Committee members and staff on the details of the program – lighting, sound, video, etc.  One day before the event, we were informed that plans had to change to accommodate the President’s schedule and security.  This required rethinking appropriate set-ups, catering, bars, etc. for all the guests.  While this occurred, we spent another day  with the Secret Service agent in charge, along with local police and fire department walking the new routes from beginning to end – another 6 or more hours literally.  Late that afternoon we were waiting to see the Ford Fellowes students briefed about their role and then for a cue to cue with our technical department.  We received a phone call and found out that the Secret Service agent in charge of the event had a family emergency and there was a new agent that needed to get familiar with the facility.  The new agent came immediately and we spent another 90 minutes walking through the event step by step.


The day of the event arrived and the caterers began setting up; flowers arrived; local law enforcement met with the Secret Service and I can tell you that by 3pm we had over 40 law enforcement, fire department and secret service in our building “doing a sweep” with two bomb sniffing dogs.  I’ve never felt safer in my life!


The guests began arriving and it wasn’t long before President Clinton was in RiverPark Center!  All the plans were working as envisioned – even though it was at least the fourth or fifth iteration of the plans!  The Committee and Ford family were disappointed that not everyone had an opportunity to interact with President Clinton, but that aside, it was an awesome evening!  I felt very privileged to be involved in planning and executing this very special event for the Ford Education Center, Senator Wendell Ford and our community.  It was a wonderful collaboration between Wendell Ford’s family, the Museum of Science and History, the event planning committee, Welborn’s Events, Moonlite Catering and the Clinton Foundation staff.

I do love my job!



RiverPark Center Names New Executive Director

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Roxi Witt Assumes New Role for the Performing Arts Center


(Owensboro, KY) After more than a year of extensive organizational review, the RiverPark Center Board of Directors has named new leadership for Owensboro’s performing arts and civic center.   The RPC Board voted unanimously to promote 20-year RiverPark Center veteran and current General Manger, Roxi Witt, to the new role of Executive Director.

“Roxi Witt’s leadership during the past 20 years has shaped RiverPark Center into the strong community asset that it is today,” said RPC Board Chairman Jeff Danhauer.  “She knows every in and out of our valuable performing arts facility, she has played an integral role developing the essential programs RiverPark provides, and she has built relationships with community leaders that continue to enhance RiverPark Center’s mission in our region.”

In November 2011, the RiverPark Center Board of Directors appointed an ad hoc Executive Leadership Task Force to examine the organization’s needs following the resignation of former CEO/President Zev Buffman.   The Task Force included current and previous Board members.  Leadership Task Force members describe the more than one-year evaluation and leadership review as “exhaustive” and “intense”.

“The Task Force wanted to assess the entire organization to make sure that its recommendation would meet RiverPark’s current and future leadership needs.  We looked at RPC’s strengths and weaknesses and at other performing arts centers” said Task Force Chairman and RiverPark Center Board member Doug Field.   “It was a thorough process that kept pointing to Roxi.  No one matches her knowledge of, or passion for, RiverPark.”

Among Ms. Witt’s many credentials include a Bachelor Degree in Speech and Theatre Arts and a Master of Business Administration from Murray State University.  She graduated from a two-year program with the International Assembly of Venue Managers and attended the International Assembly of Venue Manager’s Senior Executive Symposium at Cornell University.  She has also volunteered with many local civic organizations in the Owensboro area.

The RiverPark Center Board of Directors invites the public to formally welcome Ms. Witt as RPC’s Executive Director during an open reception on Monday, January 28, 2013 beginning at 6pm in RiverPark Center’s Jody Berry Cabaret Theatre prior to the Broadway Series performance of “Shrek:  The Musical”.   Light refreshments will be provided.

The Kentucky Arts Council, the state arts agency, supports RiverPark Center with state tax dollars and federal funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.



Huge New Years Eve Party at Riverpark Center

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Biggest NYE Party in the Tri-State Featuring LoCash Cowboys

Monday, December 31, 2012 6PM -2AM

RiverPark Center

Pre Sale Date: 11/9/12 8AM

On Sale Date: 11/14/12 10AM


OWENSBORO, KY - Two entertainment powerhouses in the Tri-state area are teaming up to present the biggest NewYear’s Eve party ever to hit the market. Legendary Entertainment and RiverPark Center are presenting NYE 2013 at the RiverPark Center, December 31, 2012 at 6PM-2AM. RiverPark Center’s marketing director Travis Estes said, “ RiverPark Center is thrilled to partner with Legendary Entertainment and bring this type of an event to Owensboro. It’s a true testament of the devotion RiverPark has as the anchor of our new downtown. It is our hope and intention that people will come early and visit our local resturants, bars, merchants, and Smothers Park. We are delighted to host an event that will keep people engaged and entertained within our own community, instead of going elsewhere on such an iconic night of celebration.”

The state of the art performing arts center will be bursting at the seams with entertainment options. RiverPark will kick off the evening with entertainment in the grand lobby featuring at least four local acts from the Owensboro area. “Fire Up The Grille” will be featuring some of their most prized culinary offerings from 6-11PM. Adding to the lobby’s fun atmosphere, patrons can disguise themselves and have the evening’s fun documented, compliments of “Have a Nice Day Entertainment’s photo booth.

Read more: Huge New Years Eve Party at Riverpark Center


Rock The Presidents ATK Review

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Rock The Presidents ATK Review

I teach 3rd grade at Newton Parrish Elementary School. Our grade level just returned from the 9:15 performance of Rock The Presidents and my team and I just wanted to take a moment to tell you that this was the best performance that we have seen in a long time. It was excellent! The actors did a super job presenting the content on an appropriate level as well as keeping the students involved and interested throughout the entire performance.

Thank you for recruiting such a quality show. We were truly impressed.


Zaletha Brown

P3 Teacher

Newton Parrish Elem.



Volunteers Paint

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Volunteer Workers Color Us Happy!


Retired Daviess County teacher and former RPC Education Director Pam Simon was taking some friends on a backstage tour of RiverPark Center one day and noticed the hallway by the dressing rooms and catering kitchen were looking a little less than stellar.   If you've ever met Pam, you know she is a woman of determination and action.   She immediately notified RiverPark Center staff that she was rallying friends to volunteer their time and talent to paint the back hallway and install new baseboard... at no cost to RiverPark Center.

Read more: Volunteers Paint


Taste 2012 - A Delicious Success

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TASTE 2012 a Delicious Success

Read more: Taste 2012 - A Delicious Success


Brick by Brick

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Securing RiverPark Brick by Brick


The next time you sit in RiverPark Center all warm and dry, please pat yourself on the back.  Your donations and some extra help from the Marilyn & William Young Charitable Foundation allowed RPC to seal the building's exterior bricks.  The special sealant should prevent leaks and rainwater damage for at least another 10 years.

Read more: Brick by Brick


Hot Car for Cool Arts Winner 2011

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2011 Hot Car Winner Drawing


RiverPark Center draws winning ticket for Hot Car for Cool Arts raffle 2011



(OWENSBORO, Ky.)  Friday, Sept 2nd at approximately 8:30PM CST Joel Tubbs, of  Delmar, IA,  became the proud new owner of a 2011 Chevy Camaro. Tubb’s name was drawn for the “Hot Car for Cool Arts” fundraising raffle benefitting RiverPark Center’s cultural mission.

The raffle kicked off on Friday, May 9th and ran through Sept 2rd.  The tickets for the raffle were twenty dollars each and a total of over 1,000 were soldfor the fundraiser.

Jeff Danhauer, RPC Fundraising Chair stated, “Originally the idea to do a car raffle appealed to us because we saw it as an opportunity to expand our donor base.  It has given us a great opportunity to be out in the community, participate in regional events and start conversations with folks about the multitude of programs RiverPark hosts, and discover what sort of an impact it has in education and life enrichment in the community.”

RiverPark Center is a non-profit regional performing arts and civic center that entertains and educates nearly 200,000 people – including 35,000 children – annually through nearly 800 events.

The car was purchased from Don Moore Chevy, Owensboro through the generous sponsorship of Don Moore Automotive, Danhauer Drugs. Other partners include: WBIO, Messenger-Inquirer, and the Kentucky Arts Council.

 The Kentucky Arts Council, the state arts agency, supports RiverPark Center with state tax dollars and federal funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.





RiverPark Center Announces Success of Million Dollar Match 11 Days Before Deadline

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OWENSBORO, August 19, 2011 – RiverPark Center announces today that it has met the Million Dollar Match challenge.



In less than six months, RiverPark Center donors contributed $1,111,877.82 in cash and pledges that fulfill RiverPark Center’s obligation under the challenge that the City of Owensboro and the Daviess County Fiscal Court initiated on March 8th to retire RiverPark Center’s remaining debt.

Furthermore, RiverPark Center is dedicating donations in excess of the Million Dollar Match toward a capital maintenance reserve fund that will be used solely on major capital maintenance, replacement and renovation of its facilities. Donors who contribute to the “Match Campaign” before August 31, 2011, will still be included on the permanent, giant Donor Wall located in RiverPark Center’s grand Lobby.

The Million Dollar Match kicked off in March when Daviess County Judge Executive Al Mattingly, Owensboro Mayor Ron Payne and RPC Board Chairman David Renshaw announced the “Million Dollar Match” agreement to retire the arts center’s remaining debt. Local government officials challenged RiverPark to raise one million dollars by August 31, 2011, and in return, Daviess County Fiscal Court will pay one million dollars and the City of Owensboro, which issued the bonds, will pay the remaining $2.6 million debt. The City has also granted RPC a 99-year management lease to continue programming diverse cultural events, focusing on arts in education.

In the campaign’s beginning, David Adkisson (former Owensboro Mayor and RPC’s Campaign Chairman) summed up the campaign this way, “Just as the regional community recognized the need for RiverPark Center more than twenty years ago, they have responded with strong support now.”

In addition to previous RiverPark Center donors, the Million Dollar Match garnered a whole host of new donors. Forty-six percent (46%) of people giving to the Match had previously not donated to RiverPark Center. “The Board, volunteers and staff have been truly humbled by the generosity of these donors – it is affirming and confirms that we are serving as the ‘living room’ for the community”, RPC Vice-Chair and Fundraising Chair Jeff Danhauer said, regarding the new donors to this campaign.


RPC Board Chairman David Renshaw said, “RiverPark Center has served more than three million people through 13,000-plus events during the past 19 years. It has truly become a place where memories are made.” When Diane Willis was asked why she decided to participate in the campaign Ms. Willis said, “Being brand new to Owensboro, but a long-time supporter of the arts, when I received the information about retiring the debt of the River Park Center, I knew I had to do something. We are so fortunate to have a beautiful facility to house great concerts (including our own Owensboro Symphony), theatrical productions, and other venues. The short commute and affordable prices allows me to enjoy the fine arts here in my own town, something I had not previously been able to do in the towns in which I formerly lived. I am so happy to contribute to the River Park Center and seeing it continue to enrich our town and lives.”

Thanks A Million to all of those who have donated to this important campaign and please join us for our celebration of RiverPark Center’s first day debt free. The community is invited and encouraged to join us at RiverPark Center Thursday, Sept.1, at 12 O’ clock noon. A giant Million Dollar check will be presented to the City of Owensboro from the RiverPark Center as well as a ceremonial “burning of the mortage”, symbolizing the end of RPC’s 20 year debt burden. Lunch will be provided by Atmos Energy.

Kentucky Arts Council

The Kentucky Arts Council, the state arts agency, supports RiverPark Center with state tax dollars and federal funding from the National Endowment for the Arts

City of Owensboro, KYDaviess County


Former Owensboro Mayor Dave Adkisson Accepts Role as Honorary Campaign Chair of RiverPark Center’s Million Dollar Match Campaign

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Almost 30 years ago a small group of citizens had a dream. At the time that dream was drawn on the back of a paper napkin. It would depict what would become one of the region’s finest performing arts centers and would challenge boundaries in education, economic development, and entertainment. The Center would go on to gain national and international recognition in those realms. That dream would be named, RiverPark Center.

One of those founding “dreamers”, Dave Adkisson, has agreed to step up to help lead the charge to finally retire the facility’s debt.

Jeff Danhauer, RPC board Vice Chair said, “When thinking of a person to serve as Honorary Chair of the “Million Dollar Match” campaign, Dave Adkisson was a natural fit. He was one of the original founders of RPC and believes in all the ways it helps the community, from education to economic development. We are humbled and honored he has agreed to help lead this campaign to the finish line!”

Dave Adkisson has been strong advocate of RiverPark Center throughout the years and today RiverPark announces that Adkisson will help lead the charge as Honorary Campaign Chair of the Million Dollar Match campaign to take care of RiverPark’s debt once and for all.
Adkisson recently stated, “The RiverPark has been a tremendous success for Owensboro for almost 20 years. That’s a generation! And the RiverPark will be serving the Owensboro region for generations to come.

I witnessed the historic generosity of Owensboro citizens in the early 1990’s, when the community originally rallied behind a new arts center and raised more than $10 million in contributions. So I’m honored to help lead an effort to get the RiverPark Center poised for the next generation. Retiring the debt and letting the RiverPark be all it can be is an important gift we can give the next generation.”


Read more: Former Owensboro Mayor Dave Adkisson Accepts Role as Honorary Campaign Chair of RiverPark Center’s Million Dollar Match Campaign


Nearly 100 have made RiverPark pledges

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Nearly 100 have made RiverPark pledges

We need to Raise a Million Dollars by August, any donation amount will help the Riverpark Center

By Keith Lawrence, Messenger-Inquirer
Published: Thursday, March 17, 2011 12:25 AM CDT

In the past week, nearly 100 people and businesses have made or pledged donations to the RiverPark Center's drive to raise $1 million by Aug. 31, David Renshaw, the performing arts center's board chairman, said Wednesday.

"I don't have a dollar amount yet," he said. "But we've had inquiries from people considering some fairly sizable donations. We're very optimistic that we'll make it."

The RiverPark Center had raised $50,000 before announcing the drive last week. Those contributions were made by volunteers and members of the center's staff and board.

Last week, Daviess Fiscal Court pledged $1 million to help retire the center's $4.6 million debt.

Read more: Nearly 100 have made RiverPark pledges


RiverPark debt solution the Right Call

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RiverPark debt solution the Right Call

Million Dollar Match Announcement at RiverPark Center

By the Messenger-Inquirer
Published: Sunday, March 13, 2011 12:08 AM CST

Long before local leaders decided to raise nearly $80 million to invest in Owensboro's downtown, the RiverPark Center was one of the few places that could actually attract large audiences to the city's core.

So it was troubling to watch one of the community's shining stars struggle because of existing debt, while the area around it -- the area that it had helped prop up for years -- received a multi-million dollar makeover.

As we've said for some time, if Owensboro was planning a downtown from scratch, a performing arts center would likely be high on the wish list -- so why not take care of the one we already have and allow it to focus more on the strong performances and programs it has, and less on digging out of a financial hole?

For this reason, city and county officials, along with the RiverPark Center board and staff should be commended for developing a plan that will use a combination of public and private funds to retire the facility's $4.6 million debt.

Read more: RiverPark debt solution the Right Call