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Friends of the Kentucky Theater


The Kentucky Theatre, a historic Lexington landmark, needs a new digital projector and sound system, new seating and carpeting, rewiring, marquee repairs, and lobby/concession improvements.

We need your help to save this one-of-a-kind cinema, an iconic presence on Main Street Lexington for over 90 years!

Why The Kentucky Theater Needs Your Help Today

  • Studios are discontinuing 35mm distribution*, which is used by the Kentucky Theater. Cinemas that don’t make the digital transition will effectively go out of business. Conversion completed May 2013! Our thanks to all who contributed!
  • The LED lighting upgrade will reduce electricity consumption and the rate at which bulbs must be replaced, making the theater greener and saving money over time.
  • Improved sound system compatible with modern movies’ demands. Completed along with digital conversion.
  • Improve the safety and fire resistance of lighting and wiring fixtures.
  • Replace seats and carpeting which have been in place for 20 years
  • Increase the level of comfort for patrons to a competitive level with other cinemas.

Addressing these issues will help the Kentucky Theater continue to play a central role in our community for decades to come.  But only if you help!

* The digital conversion is required to meet the 2013 deadline set by a consortium of major US movie studios that have announced their intention to discontinue distribution of movies on 35 mm film format in favor of digital format only.  Read more about the digital conversion deadline here.


How to Donate Online or With A Check

We’ve made it easy to securely donate online.

Or you can pay by check via US Mail:

Blue Grass Community Foundation
499 East High Street, Suite 112
Lexington, Kentucky 40507
c/o Friends of the Kentucky Donation

If you are sending a check, please enclose a note / memo on the check stating the “Friends of the Kentucky Donation” … if you’re wanting to sponsor a seat ($500 per seat) please clearly the seat number(s) you wish to sponsor.

How to Sponsor A Seat at the Kentucky Theater

  • The cost is $500, and includes your seat choice and an optional memorial plaque.
  • Payment can be made via check or online.  (choose “other” and $500 per seat on the amount page.)
  • Individuals, Groups or Anonymous donations welcomed for any seat(s), which may be in a group’s name.
  • Individual donors can spread your payments into 5 installments of $100 if needed.    Please note this as your intention when you submit your donation.
  • Groups, clubs, co-workers or churches may pool their donations and sponsor a seat in their group name.
  • Names on plaques are subject to the review of the FOKT donation committee prior to insertion on a plaque.

If you have specific seat(s) in mind, please refer to the seating chart below and note the number(s) of seats.  Include those numbers as you make your donation.

To select a seat, click here .


About The Friends of the Kentucky Theater

The Friends of the Kentucky Theatre (FOKT) is a Lexington, Kentucky non-profit organization made up of civic-minded community leaders and members united in the mission to preserve, renovate and enhance the historic theater and create a fund for its continued maintenance over the coming years.  The FOKT campaign was founded and incorporated in September, 2012 and is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and fiscal component of the Blue Grass Community Foundation.

The Kentucky Theatre has become a cultural institution both through the historic grandeur of its building and the diverse, community-centered programming it provides.

The building, which is owned by Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government and leased to a theater management company, is literally a public asset that belongs to all of Lexington’s citizens.  Mayor Jim Gray, in kicking off the fundraising campaign, challenged FOKT to be “aspirational” in our mission to give the theater the renewal and transformation it deserves.   Read more about the theater’s history here

The Kentucky’s History

This historic and architecturally distinguished cinema has been a civic anchor on Main Street Lexington since 1922 when it was rated one of the top ten movie theaters in the US.  In 1926, it was one of the first 50 theaters in the country to introduce sound and the first in Lexington to introduce Warner Brothers’ vitaphone sound films.

The Kentucky Theatre was built by the Switow family, Russian Jewish immigrants in Lexington.  They commissioned the design by Joseph and Joseph of Louisville, Kentucky’s oldest continuing architectural firm and one of its most distinguished.  Read more about the theater’s history here