SOAR Helps Northeast Ky. Arts Center With Silent Auction | News

ASHLAND Last week’s SOAR mini-summit in Ashland spawned a project to help the city’s performing arts hub.

Shaping Our Appalachian Region, in partnership with Visit AKY and the Paramount, Arts Center, launched the Country Music Highway Silent Auction to help the theater fund restoration of the marquee; all proceeds from the auction will go to the theater project, said Joshua Ball, COO of SOAR.

“We’ve incorporated the Country Music Highway Tribute Show as part of the event for our summit attendees and also for the general public,” Ball said. “While we were planning this, we were learning about Paramount in general, all of its history, and building relationships.”

It was then that the idea fully blossomed.

“We had this crazy idea that maybe we could reach out to some of the folks on Country Music Highway to see if they would be interested in donating, and several wanted to,” Ball said. “They responded right away and started sending souvenirs.”

He said that within about 10 minutes, Wynonna Judd had responded with tickets to her June show at Paramount and an autographed guitar.

The auction also features a signed Chris Stapleton “Starting Over” album donated by Stapleton; an autographed first edition of “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and “Still Woman Enough,” both donated by Loretta Lynn; a signed SteelDrivers album donated by the Paramount Arts Center; and tickets to the concerts of Whiskey Myers and Dustin Lynch, courtesy of the Appalachian Wireless Arena.

Ball said the offers came from as far away as Georgia.

To view the items up for auction, visit

“We want to raise as much as we can to help Paramount, the City of Ashland and the Tri-State because the marquee lights mean so much more to the region than just being a marquee,” Ball said. “This building has always been there and these lights have always been on. These lights and this installation are so important. … Everything revolves around the future.

He explained that keeping Paramount going is a way to support burgeoning local artists.

“As we begin to reinvent ourselves, things like our culture, our music and our performing arts become part of who we are and our home,” he said. “We can’t afford not to support him.”

The auction will end on March 25.

William E. Bennett