top of page

Louisville Ballet Unveils Community Healing Garden

Public space to promote healing from trauma caused by violence

(Louisville) – April 10, 2023, was a day few in Louisville will forget, as the Preston Pointe building on East Main Street became the site of a fatal workplace shooting. Trauma from such events can linger for years for witnesses, families, and friends, as well as entire communities.

The need for community healing inspired the creation of a Community Healing Garden outside the headquarters of the Louisville Ballet, which is next door to Preston Pointe. The garden was dedicated in a ceremony today that included remarks from Governor Andy Beshear and Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg and musical performances by Teddy Abrams and Gareth Jones.

“Our lives were forever changed by an unthinkable act of violence in Louisville that shook me, this community, and the commonwealth to our core,” said Gov. Andy Beshear. “Following times of great loss, we often wonder how we will ever get through it. And the answer is always the same: together. The new Louisville Ballet Healing Garden is a beautiful way for our community to come together and heal. It’s a place where we can reflect on what was lost and move forward with love and care for each other.

Greenberg added, “This garden is a sacred space in the perfect spot for reflection and restoration. We owe the Louisville Ballet and their generous partners a debt of gratitude for providing our community with beauty – first on stage and now here.”

The garden idea grew from Louisville Ballet CEO Leslie Smart, who has a background in healing gardens and their benefits.  As dancers and ballet staff struggled in the emotional aftermath of the events of April 10, Louisville Ballet engaged a social worker from Norton Healthcare to work with the Company. 

"One of our expansive studio windows looks directly into the Old National space, and every time we pull into the parking lot or dancers take class, we look directly at the building," Smart said. “The social worker helped  us retrain our brain to not revisit the trauma.”

The session led to the idea of a healing garden for dancers, staff, and the entire community to take respite from anxieties and fear. The garden features a Gallopalooza horse inspired by the Waltz of the Flowers from The Brown-Forman Nutcracker designed by Artist Andy Perez and donated by Kentucky Colonel Shannon Ralston through Brightside Foundation.

Award winning Kentucky-born landscaper, Jon Carloftis, stepped forward to help. Carloftis is all about resolving challenges to create welcoming outdoor spaces that promote health and healing.

A host of donors, partners, and friends stepped forward to bring the idea to life, including:

  • Kentucky Colonel Shannon Ralston, $20,000 gift

  • The KFC Foundation, $10,000 gift

  • Jon Carloftis, garden designer

  • Andy Perez, Gallopalooza artist

  • Michelle Black White, Brightside Foundation

  • Realm Construction, in-kind donor

  • Sherwin-Williams, in-kind donor

  • Maggie Harlow, Signarama, in-kind donor

"The team that made this garden possible came together almost organically, with an initial gift from the KFC Foundation” Smart continued. “Everyone was eager to do their part to create a healing environment for our community, and we are most grateful.” 

The Community Healing Garden, located at 315 East Main Street, is open to the public.


bottom of page