Arts of Southern Kentucky announced Thursday that the primary performance space at the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center will be named the Rita and Jim Scott Concert Hall after the couple gave the organization a $1 million gift.

The donation will be split evenly, with $500,000 supporting operating expenses and another $500,000 going toward establishment of the Rita and Jim Scott Endowment.

At $1 million, the gift is the largest single investment ever made to an arts organization in southern Kentucky.

“I wanted to give back to the people who have helped me,” Jim Scott said. “It means a lot to me to be able to do that. It’s a joy to me to be able to give back.”

Rita Scott said: “My husband and I have contributed to a lot of good causes in Bowling Green, and I think this building speaks for itself. It’s a wonderful asset to our community. We feel that it’s a good place to put this contribution, and that it will keep this place going for years to come.”

A large sign that reads “Rita and Jim Scott Concert Hall” now hangs in the main hall of SKyPAC, where it will remain for the rest of the center’s future.

Arts of Southern Kentucky President and CEO Jeff Reed said the organization’s future is “very bright” thanks to the Scotts’ gift.

“I can’t thank them enough, and I will probably be thanking them both every time I see them until the day I die,” Reed said. “In case you don’t know, we are in the middle of a pandemic. We can’t sell tickets, and that’s a problem when you are running a performing arts facility. So, this is very valuable in that respect.”

With the creation of the Rita and Jim Scott Endowment, Arts of Southern Kentucky will have a long-term anchor for secure financial footing.

“Rita and Jim Scott have been longtime philanthropists and supporters of the arts,” Arts of Southern Kentucky board chairwoman Beth Sigler said. “They recognize the value the arts bring to southcentral Kentucky, and they have a history of stepping in to help keep the arts alive in our community. We are so thankful for this gift, which will allow us to continue our mission for years to come.”

Rita Scott serves on the board of directors for Arts of Southern Kentucky. She also serves as chair of the Elm Street Society, which is comprised of donors who have made multi-year pledges to the organization.

Under her leadership, the society has experienced a 24% increase in membership in the past six months and is on track to have 100 members by June 30.

“It’s very thrilling,” Rita Scott said of having the primary auditorium named after the couple. “That is a huge sign, and we are very proud to be able to do that. It’s a legacy thing, and it will be there forever. We are happy to support the Arts of Southern Kentucky.”

Orchestra Kentucky and SKyPAC merged into Arts of Southern Kentucky in 2020 thanks to the assistance of Warren County Judge-Executive Mike Buchanon, who attended Thursday’s news conference.

The move created a way to overcome the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and to ensure access to arts and entertainment for future audiences.

Live shows are scheduled to return to SKyPAC starting July 17, which will be the beginning of Orchestra Kentucky’s new season.

Windborne’s “Music of Queen,” featuring singer Brody Dolyniuk and a rock ensemble, is set to perform.

Details of the 2021-22 Orchestra Kentucky season are available at OrchestraKentucky.com and packages may be purchased by calling the SKyPAC box office at 270-904-1880.

The SKyPAC main stage performances will be announced in early May.

– Follow reporter John Reecer on Twitter @JReecerBGDN or visit bgdailynews.com.

– Follow reporter John Reecer on Twitter @JReecerBGDN or visit bgdailynews.com.