Tom Carto

Tom Carto is president and CEO of the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center, which operates the Capitol Arts Center.

The Capitol Arts Center’s ailing HVAC system has been replaced by a newer, more efficient model, which should allow the venue to expand its performance offerings.

Tom Carto, president and CEO of the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center, which operates the Capitol, said the previous HVAC system was in place since the Capitol was renovated in the early 1980s and had not been reliable for several years.

“It’s all done now and it’s working great and we’re thrilled,” he said of the new system.

While the Capitol is home to a few recurring events such as Lost River Sessions and the Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers, Carto said issues with the HVAC system meant SKyPAC was at times unwilling to expand programming at the Capitol for fear of the HVAC shutting off before an event.

Keeping the HVAC system operational has been a frequent headache, Carto said.

“We constantly were having to put Band-Aids on the system to keep it running,” he said.

Additionally, the HVAC units on the roof had a tendency to leak, which caused damage Carto described as “mostly aesthetic.”

Carto said the new system’s reliability restores the Capitol’s viability as a venue for smaller events that a facility as large as SKyPAC might not be suited to host.

“That will improve our programming, because we’re going to be able to do more diverse and more intimate programming in the Capitol,” he said.

Now that the Capitol has a reliable HVAC system, Carto said SKyPAC will soon announce a series of movie screenings at the Capitol that will focus on family films and documentaries.

The replacement of the Capitol’s HVAC system, along with some roof repairs, are part of a larger countywide project that James Marcrum, superintendent of the Warren County Justice Center, has been a key player in implementing.

“We want to thank the county for including us in that project,” Carto said. “Obviously, it was much needed.”

Marcrum said the project intends to upgrade the lighting, heating and cooling in all county buildings and is being conducted through a $5.7 million contract between the county and Energy Savings Group. Marcrum said the project is being funded via a loan from the state and he estimates that the full project will likely be finished by October.

Marcrum said the need to replace the Capitol’s HVAC system has been known for a while but the funds have not been available in previous years.

“Something was needed for a long time,” he said. “We just didn’t have the money.”

The installation of the new HVAC system, which began in March and was finished about two weeks ago, makes the Capitol a more attractive venue for audiences and event organizers.

“It makes it more user-friendly, it makes it more presentable. It makes it so people actually want to rent it,” he said.

– Follow Daily News reporter Jackson French on Twitter @Jackson_French or visit

– Follow Daily News reporter Jackson French on Twitter @Jackson_French or visit


General assignment reporter focusing on features and regional coverage.

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