Theater eyes on Louisville during Humana Festival, company still - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Theater eyes on Louisville during Humana Festival, company still giving during merger

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- For the next month, the eyes of the theater world are on Louisville. But as actors take the stage, some are curious what the future holds as a major health insurance merger is still not finalized.

It's the kickoff for the 2016 Humana Festival of New American Plays. One of the crown jewels of Louisville's performing arts scene.

“You know the national spotlight is brought here because of Actors Theater,” said Julie Roberts, Director of Development at Actors Theater.

Last year the festival brought 37,000 people through the doors of Actors Theater, with visitors from 43 states and five countries.

“It's the biggest new play festival in the country,” explained Erin Meiman, Festival and Event’s Manager for Actors Theater.

To date Humana's philanthropic arm, the Humana Foundation has donated more than $20 million to showcase the new original work of playwrights. So when news of a merger between Humana and Connecticut-based Aetna broke last spring, there were obvious questions about the future of the Humana Festival.

For now, theater lovers can rest assured.

“The foundation as we understand it at this point is staying separate from the Humana Aetna merger...we're very pleased to know the foundation is still our partner,” said Roberts.

But let’s be honest, the Humana Festival is not just about arts and culture it’s also about dollars and cents. The festival estimates for every person who comes to see a show, they spend about $25 downtown.

Dollars spent in Louisville during the festival last year? Just about $923,000.

“We also have artistic directors, casting directors, agents, actors all kinds of people who are coming here specifically to see these plays,” said Meiman.

And press coming from the likes of the New York Times, The BBC and the Wall Street Journal.

Six new works plus three more ten minute plays will make their world premiere here starting next week.

“We have Wellesley Girl, we have Residence, This Random World ,” said Meiman.

Louisville, making its mark, By way of the stage.

“We get a chance to show the world Louisville Kentucky is more than just horses and basketball in the Spring,” said Roberts.

Performances start next week.

Tickets are available here.

Copyright 2016 WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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