Allan Cowen

A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Allan Cowen is a graduate of Kent State University in Ohio (Bachelor of Fine Arts in Design) and the Harvard University Summer Institute in Arts Administration.

Cowen was appointed Executive Director of the Fund for the Arts (the oldest united arts fund in America) in November 1976, and in May 1982, was named President and Chief Executive Officer.  Cowen’s first campaign in 1977 raised over $600,000 and in 2008 the amount exceeded $9 million. In addition, the Fund’s assets have grown from under $50,000 to over $25,000,000 with his leadership.

In 1997, the historic Brown Theatre was deeded to the Fund and Cowen developed its restoration and re-visioning plan, and oversaw the capital drive to raise $4.3 million for the project.  This restoration was recognized by a Louisville Cornerstone 2020 Award, a preservation award from the Louisville Central Area and the Louisville Historical Society’s Downtown Preservation Award. 

Cowen also conceived and developed the plan for ARTSPACE, a mixed-use development located in the former Brown Office Building at 321 West Broadway that is owned by the Fund for the Arts and serves as the Fund’s ‘arts incubator.’ ARTSPACE currently houses: the W. L. Lyons Brown Theatre; the Jefferson Community and Technical College Theatre Department; the Center for Non-Profit Excellence; Fund for the Arts member organizations such as Louisville Orchestra, Kentucky Opera, Stage One: Louisville Children’s Theatre, Broadway at Iroquois (formerly Music Theatre Louisville), Louisville Theatrical Association; and private businesses. In addition, ARTSPACE includes the Fifth Third Conference Center; 4,000 square feet of rehearsal space; and a direct pedestrian walkway/entrance from the adjacent parking garage directly into the facility. ARTSPACE was made possible by a creative private/public partnership that included PARC, Metro Government, the W. L. Lyons Brown Foundation, the Fund for the Arts and the original donors of the first eight floors of ARTSPACE. The original donors retain ownership of the top two floors for development as residential condominiums.

In 1992, Cowen received the highest award given by the National Coalition of United Arts Funds, the Michael Newton Award, for excellence in united arts fundraising.  In 1998, he was the second recipient of the newly-established Hugh Finn Community Service Award in the Arts.  In 2000, he also received -- on behalf of the Fund -- the 1999 Governor’s Pioneer Award for the Arts in celebration of the Fund’s achievements over its 52-year history.  Cowen’s vision led to the development of a Cultural Blueprint, a 10-point action plan that strives to position the arts and cultural attractions as vital to the economic success of the Louisville Metro region.
In addition to his work for the Fund, Cowen has served as arts consultant to the governments of Great Britain, Japan, Singapore, and to arts agencies and organizations in Connecticut, Florida, New Mexico, Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, Virginia, Minnesota, Tennessee, Alabama, Texas and North Carolina.  He also has consulted for the National Endowment for the Arts and the American Council for the Arts.  He has been a guest lecturer at several universities, and was a founding Board member of the North Carolina Association of Community Arts Agencies, the Kentucky Citizens for the Arts, and Third Century.  He also has taught classes on non-profit leadership in the University of Louisville College of Business & Public Administration.
Cowen’s civic involvement includes participation in Leadership Louisville, the Riverfront Development Task Force, and the Downtown Goals Committee Task Force.  In 1977, Cowen provided staff support to the committee that led to the construction of the Kentucky Center for the Arts.  Cowen has served on the Board of Directors of the Louisville Science Center, The Heritage Corporation, Jewish Hospital Foundation, Bingham Child Guidance Center, Louisville Area Chamber of Commerce, Cotton & Allen CPA’s, Humana, University Hospital, Indiana University Southeast, and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Louisville.  Cowen has served on the Board of Greater Louisville Inc., the Partnership for Creative Economies, Inc., and the National Coalition of United Arts Funds.

Cowen recently served as the Innovation Consultant to the Provost at the University of Louisville and is currently the Wealth Management Experience and Location Consultant to the President of Northwestern Mutual, Kentucky. He is also the owner and developer of an 1865 historic multi-use property in downtown Louisville. Cowen is married and has three children. He resides with his wife in Anchorage, Kentucky, where his youngest daughter attends Anchorage Middle School. His son is a major in the U.S. Army and his oldest daughter is a professor at the University of Montana.