- Associated Press - Monday, November 28, 2016

MOUNT VERNON, Ky. (AP) - New managers are working to ensure that the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame, which had been low on cash under the leadership of a thieving director, is no longer in danger of closing.

The Mount Vernon facility, which showcases the state’s legendary artists such as Loretta Lynn and Bill Monroe, was in dire straits last year, as visitation was down and costly maintenance was needed, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported (https://bit.ly/2fEUcYL).

The situation was made even worse by the fact that former executive director Robert W. Lawson was accused of stealing tens of thousands of dollars from the Hall. Lawson pleaded guilty to two theft charges earlier this year and was sentenced to serve six months in jail and pay back more than $40,000.

Things have started to improve, though, since the facility was transferred to the control of the Mount Vernon-Rockcastle County Tourist Commission in July.

That move provided a financial cushion through a local tax on restaurants and motels dedicated to tourism activities. The community needs the facility to succeed, Rockcastle County Judge-Executive Doug Bishop said.

“If we’re gonna do tourism in Mount Vernon and Rockcastle County, it is one of the most important things that we have to promote,” he said.

Since the commission took over, the facility has gone from being open three days a week to being open all seven days and has added new displays.

Hall officials are now working on repairs and focused on boosting income.

One idea that is about to come to fruition is a series of Christmas benefit concerts at the Silver Eagle music club in Mount Vernon each Thursday evening from Dec. 1 through Dec. 22.

The longer-term ideas to rejuvenate the Hall of Fame include adding traveling museum shows, creating more displays on inductees, hosting live music, and holding more special events and fundraisers.

The facility still has new challenges to face, new manager Avery Bradshaw said, but he is optimistic.

“We’ve got a big future ahead of us,” he said.

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Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader, https://www.kentucky.com

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