Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Poetry Out Loud!

Poetry Out Loud is back! The Arts Council is working with the Louisiana Division of the Arts to present the 2012 round of this innovative arts education program. Poetry Out Loud was initiated in 2005 by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, and it's designed to challenge high school students to memorize and recite poetry in a competitive setting.

From left: Justine Chiappetta of the Poetry Foundation, David Douglas, and Dana LaFonta of the Louisiana Division of the Arts

Last year, our Louisiana State Champion came from Lake Charles's Washington-Marion High School. David Douglas competed at the national tier of the competition in Washington, D.C. for the chance to win over $50,000 in awards and scholarships, including a $20,000 prize for the National Champion.

Schools and libraries across Southwest Louisiana have been tasked with hosting the first tier of the competition, and this year six schools and libraries will send their top contestants to our Southwest Louisiana Regional Competition on Friday, February 17th. Students will compete at 6 p.m. in the Central School theatre, and the top three competitors will go on to compete at the State Competition in March. Prizes will be awarded at Regionals, and a reception will be held afterwards. For details, contact us at 439-ARTS.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Live @ the Lakefront Logo Revealed!

We're thrilled to reveal our official Live @ the Lakefront logo! We can't wait to give Lake Charles this brand new music festival that will celebrate the new Lakefront Promenade and the downtown identity! We are booking bands this week, so stay tuned for a complete list of performances! We will also have live art demonstrations, artist booths, and great food! Call us at 439-ARTS for details.

Arts Council Sponsors Folklore Society Film Screening

LAKE CHARLES, Louisiana (February 2012)—.  The new documentary T-Galop: a Louisiana Horse Story will premier on Thursday, March 15th at 7:00 pm at the Central School Arts and Humanities Center in Lake Charles as part of the Louisiana Folklore Society’s Annual Meeting being hosted by McNeese State University.

T-Galop is the recent creation by Conni Castille who made I Always Do My Collars First (2007), and Raised on Rice and Gravy (2009), and King Crawfish (2010). The film screening is co-sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Council of Southwest Louisiana.

Nick Spitzer, Amercian Routes, consulted with Castille on the film (Spitzer is also the invited Keynote Speaker for the Annual Meeting and will address the public on Friday, March 16, 7:00 p.m. at Stokes Auditorium). “T-Galop takes the audience deep into the horse play and work of French Louisiana,” says Spitzer, adding that “Cajun and Creole cowboy and cattle traditions are revealed from colonial times to present day swimming herds, bush tracks, zydeco cowboys, mounted Mardi Gras revelers, knightly “tournois”, workaday ranchers and famed jockeys. It’s all there.”

Indeed, in T-Galop, Creole cowboys, Cajun jockeys, Cotton Knights and Mardi Gras revelers reveal the long history and blend between Creoles and Cajuns and the horses they love. “This equine love affair began more than 250 years ago on the first ranches of South Louisiana where Creoles became some of American’s first cowboys,” explains Castille, the film’s writer and director. Not only essential to hard ranch work, horses were often the focus of French Louisiana’s renowned joie de vivre. “The Creole and Cajun idea of `passing a good time’ of course made its way into their horse culture, like the old bush track racing that birthed so many great jockeys, or the Mardi Gras horseback riders, or the leisurely Creole trail rides,” says Castille. T-Galop romps playfully across South Louisiana through professional sports to community rituals bearing witness to a modern horse culture that was born many centuries ago.

T-Galop: a Louisiana Horse Story will in Lake Charles at the Central School, 809 Kirby Street on Thursday, March 15th, at 7:00 pm. Admission is free. Donations will be accepted to benefit the Louisiana Folklore Society. For more information on the screening or the Folklore Society’s Annual Meeting, call (337) 277-5292, or e-mail connicastille@gmail.com. T-Galop was supported in part by grants from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, Louisiana Entertainment, Louisiana Economic Development Association, and the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation & Tourism. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Live @ the Lakefront Begins!

It's happening! The Arts & Humanities Council of Southwest Louisiana and the City of Lake Charles are bringing you Live @ the Lakefront, a brand new music festival on the shores of Lake Charles! Live @ the Lakefront will showcase the talents of both local and headlining bands to bring you a full fledged music festival on three consecutive Fridays, March 16th, 23rd, and 30th from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Arcade Amphitheater. The festival will also feature live art, artist booths, and great Lake Area food. This music festival was created in response to the community's growing demand for a great music event that will grow each year. Live @ the Lakefront will celebrate our Lake Area identity while activating the newly renovated Lakefront Promenade.

Bands and sponsors are currently being solicited. If your business would like to gain exclusive industry sponsorship for this exciting opportunity, contact Executive Director Matt Young at (337) 439-2787 or director@artsandhumanitiesswla.org. If your band would like to send music samples and a quote, contact Project Coordinator Erica McCreedy at (337) 439-2787 or projects@artsandhumanitiesswla.org.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Arts Council Awards Calcasieu Parish Police Jury Grant

Four years ago, the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury initiated a new grant program that would enable Southwest Louisiana arts and cultural programs to receive funding for the events and programs that strengthen our state’s cultural economy. Since its inception, the Arts and Humanities Council of Southwest Louisiana allocates these funds each year through the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury grant, and the program has become an exemplary avenue of funding for the arts in Southwest Louisiana during a time of economic hardship.

This year, fifteen organizations in Calcasieu Parish were awarded funding. Organizations include the Lake Charles Civic Ballet, Art on Wheels, the Children’s Theatre Company, the Brimstone Museum, the SWLA Science Educational Foundation, the Calcasieu Historic Preservation Society, Louisiana Choral Foundation, Cajun French Music Association, Louisiana Film and Video Art, Bayou Writers’ Group, Black Heritage Gallery, Dr. F.G. Bulber Youth Orchestra, Whistle Stop, Eljay Foundation for Parkinson Awareness, and Iowa Rabbit Festival.

The Calcasieu Parish Police Jury grant program is administered by the Arts and Humanities Council, and it seeks to sustain and support cultural programming for our region. For more information on the Arts Council’s other grant programs, visit www.artsandhumanitiesswla.org or call 439-2787.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

JPMorgan Chase Donates $5,000 to Arts Council for Arts Programming

Arts Council Executive Director, Matt Young, with Rodney "Poncho" Seaford of JPMorgan Chase

On Friday, January 13th, at the Chase downtown branch, Rodney “Poncho” Seaford, President of the Southwest Louisiana Market for JPMorgan Chase, presented a check for $5,000 to Matt Young, Executive Director of the Arts and Humanities Council of Southwest Louisiana. The grant was awarded to the Arts Council for arts and cultural programming which benefits the cultural economy in Southwest Louisiana. For more information about the Arts Council, call 439-ARTS.

Art Associates Elects New Board Members

Art Associates Board President, Bobbi Yancey
During its annual board meeting on January 5th, 2012, Art Associates of Lake Charles elected a new executive committee and appointed new members to its board of directors. Bobbi Yancey, arts educator at Lake Charles Boston Academy of Learning, was elected Board President for another year. Also serving on the executive committee include: Gayle Cline as Vice President, Kempa Pierce (IRS Retiree) as Treasurer, Kay Crosby as Corresponding Secretary, and Brigette Martin (Brigette Martin Piano Studio) as Recording Secretary.

Four new members were appointed to the board: Chad Moreno, owner of Killer Websites and LakeCharles.com, Dr. Delma Porter, Director of McNeese’s Write to Excellence Center, Valerie Smith, owner of Stellar Beans Coffee House, and Kim Anderson, owner of Hope Therapy Center.

Art Associates of Lake Charles is a non-profit organization dedicated to expanding the audience for art in Southwest Louisiana, and it operates Art Associates Gallery at Central School. For more information about Art Associates, its gallery, and programs, visit www.artassociates.org.

First Friday Reading Series presents J.D. Hibbitts and Scott Thomason

On Friday, February 3rd, the First Friday Reading Series will present a fiction reading by J.D. Hibbitts and Scott Thomason at 7 p.m. at the Porch Coffee House & Café in Lake Charles. The reading series, co-sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Council of Southwest Louisiana, is held on the First Friday of each month at the Porch and is designed to promote local and regional poets and writers.

Hibbitts, originally from Southwest Virginia, is currently an MFA candidate in McNeese State University’s fiction program. After completing his service commitment to the United States Air Force, Hibbitts received his BA from Emory & Henry College in Virginia. His work has appeared in Sugar House Review, Ellipsis, and The Sierra Nevada Review, among others. Thomason is a native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and holds a BA and MA in American history from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He is also an MFA candidate at McNeese in fiction.

The Porch is located at 4710 Common Street in Lake Charles, and live music follows each reading. For more information about the reading series, contact the Arts Council at (337) 439-2787 or visit www.artsandhumanitiesswla.org.

Central School to Host Contemporary Music Workshop and Concert

Marcus Johnson, Lake Charles middle school band director and guitar instructor, along with the Arts and Humanities Council of Southwest Louisiana and Baton Rouge Music Studios (BRMS) are combining efforts to ignite a spark in young musicians of Southwest Louisiana. The plan begins with a showcase of fifty students in ten bands from BRMS performing in Southwest Louisiana schools throughout the day on Friday, March 16th, then performing a free concert at the Central School Theater later that evening. This event will be an introduction to a new kind of music camp that Johnson is planning for the Lake Charles area. The camp is set to take place at Central School from Monday, June 11th to Friday June 15th, culminating in a concert by the students.

In addition to being a band director, Johnson has over a decade of experience as a professional guitarist in music genres ranging from jazz and blues to rock and zydeco, and he is passionate about working with young musicians who may not fit the school band mold or who want to supplement their school music experience with contemporary music. With a passion for popular music, Johnson has a drive to initiate a new music school for area youth that focuses on contemporary music.

In order to see this project come to fruition in the near future, Johnson has met with the BRMS director of programs, Doug Gay, who is currently running a contemporary music school in Baton Rouge. Johnson and Gay discussed all of the possibilities to start a new venture together in Lake Charles and decided that a summer camp would be a good litmus test to see if there is enough interest to one day start a full-fledged school of contemporary music and music technology, similar to the school Gay has built in Baton Rouge.

Originally from Lake Charles, Gay is excited about the possibility of helping Johnson build a community of young musicians, parents, and local music professionals in his hometown. Over the past 6 years, Gay has built a school of contemporary music from the ground up, and his student base is now growing faster than ever with over 250 students per week. Now he works with a full staff of administrators and instructors and multiple programs in music performance and technology. Gay is confident that Johnson has the passion and drive to create these same opportunities for young musicians in Lake Charles. 

Young Band Nation is the nickname of Gay's flagship program at BRMS, officially labeled the “Young Band Development Program.” The program consists of 50 students in 10 bands, some of whom will be performing 4 major music festivals this year including Festival Internationale in Lafayette and The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. The students learn a variety of genres and learn the intricacies of a career in music. They rehearse several hours a week, create Facebook pages and websites to market their bands, learn how to use audio and video hardware and software, and write and record original songs that they release through BRMS’s mastering and CD duplication studio, as well as on SoundCloud and YouTube.