Community raises funds to help west end music school - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Community raises funds to help west end music school

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A music school in the west end dedicated to giving back is in need of some help itself. Now the community is coming together to make sure the lessons continue for the city's youth, beyond the classroom.

Behind the blue two story house on South 28th Street, are lessons taped onto the house's walls and the sound of the violin. 

"It's a great way to express yourself and just however you're feeling or whatever message you want to get out, music is one of the best ways to have your outlet," Kenneth Wilson Jr. said.

Wilson, 20, began playing when he was three years old. "I've just grown up with the program, all the way up until high school."

The West Louisville Talent Education Center -- or WESTEC -- has provided instruction to more than 200 kids living in or near one of Louisville's poorest neighborhoods. 

"You reach a point in your life when you want to start doing things for others, you realize it's not about you anymore. It's about your community," Keith Cook said.

Cook founded the center in the donated house in 1997. After teaching music at two universities including the University of Louisville and academics in public schools, he eventually retired from the Louisville Orchestra where he played for 31 years to teach at WESTEC full-time.

"It'll be 20 years in October. I wanted it to be in an area where the students who most need the arts, where it's accessible," Cook said.

Currently, all 40 students can walk to class or are a short ride away. "The arts are the most humanizing activity we have. The arts are the polar opposite of violence."

As a member of the ArtsReach program with the Kentucky Center for the Arts, he's teaching for little or no cost. "A program like this would cost $250, $260 a month to do, if you were doing it in a regular established program."

However, expenses for the school are piling on. On top of years of wear and tear like cracked walls, broken windows and a battered roof, the home, which as been vandalized several times, needs more parking and eventually, sustainable funds to pay teachers.

Members from the community have set up a fundraising page to secure the center's future and the future of students. "I think that would take a hit for the community if there was no longer WESTEC, this big, blue house," Wilson said.

"This is a unique opportunity for kids here in Louisville, want to keep it going," Cook said.

To help the school, click here to donate.

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