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February 23, 2012 

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Black Residents Frustrated By 'Limited Access' To Restored Theatre
Posted: February 23, 2012
LEXINGTON, KY (AP) -- Black residents in a Lexington neighborhood who worked hard to restore a historic theatre are complaining that they aren't able to use it.

Patricia-Devine Muhammad, who is president of the Historic East End Community Association, said Tuesday that black members are frustrated because they have only limited access to the Lyric Theatre and Cultural Center.

The theater was built in 1948 for use by black residents and black acts during segregation. It closed in 1963 and fell into disrepair before being renovated and reopening in 2010.

Muhammad said events aren't advertised to neighborhood residents and rental fees are excessive, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.

Lyric board member Chris Ford, who also sits on the Urban County Council, said better communication is needed between the theatre board the community association.

"There has been no intent to lock anybody out," Ford said after the meeting. "But from comments I have heard, people do feel some level of frustration. I do know going forward we have to be more inviting and welcoming."

To accomplish that, he said the Lyric board will begin meeting at night and has invited residents to a community meeting to gather ideas and feedback on the types of events they would like to see at the theatre.

Historic East End Community Association member Brandon Dunn said he hopes the measures help.

"Their hearts are with it," Dunn said of the theater. "But there's no connection between the Lyric and the community."

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