NEW ALBANY — It's a pretty good time to be a kid in Clark, Floyd or Harrison counties.
For just signing up for one of the summer reading programs being offered at libraries in the three counties, children and young adults up to age 21 will receive a Cultural Pass which will give them free access to 59 arts and cultural institutions and museums in Southern Indiana and Louisville. The pass is good from June 1 to Aug. 10.
The pass has been around for five years, but this is only the second year in Southern Indiana thanks to financial support from the Bales Foundation, Duke Energy Foundation, Horseshoe Foundation of Floyd County and the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana.
"Look at all the amazing things we have in this community that focus on art and culture ... we really have world class venues and opportunities," Jerry Finn, executive director of the Horseshoe Foundation, said at a news conference announcing the event Monday. "It's really cool that they will be free to all young people this summer."
The pass is good for one general admission entry at each of the participating institutions.
Last year, 40,000 passes were distributed to youth in Southern Indiana and Louisville. The goal is to use the pass to give kids incentive to sign up for the summer reading programs.
"This Cultural Pass is a passport for Southern Indiana and Louisville kids and families to unlock boundless creativity at our world-class arts and cultural institutions," Christen Boone, chief executive officer for the Fund for the Arts Program, said. She also praised all the donors and partners involved in the program. "This is a critical investment for our region that allows kids to learn, play and grow all summer."
Boone said 25 percent of the passes were given last year to children of lower income families who may not have otherwise had the opportunity to visit the museums and other cultural institutions.
"It's about regional partnerships and regionalism at work," Indiana State Rep. Ed Clere said. "We have an opportunity here for children on both sides of the river to experience our entire regional community."
The Floyd County and Jeffersonville libraries also offer free lunch, Monday through Friday, June 3 to July 26 for children 18 and under. The Greater Clark County Schools' food truck will be servicing the Jeff Township Library while at the Floyd County Library, the lunches are given out in the cafe area at the front of the library.
"The free lunch program is also a way for us to help ensure that students are nourished and ready to enjoy an active summer," Melissa Merida, director of the Floyd County Library, said. "It's a unique role libraries can play in their communities to help fight food insecurities for our youth."
To learn more about the Cultural Pass visit fundforthearts.org/culturalpass.