Thursday, October 25, 2012

Mayor's Arts Awards Winners Announced!

Chester Daigle, Artist of the Year,
with his wife, Pat, and Mayor Roach

On Friday, October 12th, in the Benjamin W. Mount Auditorium at Central School, the Arts & Humanities Council of Southwest Louisiana and the City of Lake Charles honored area individuals, businesses, and organizations during the annual Mayor’s Arts Awards. Mayor Randy Roach presented awards to seven recipients in recognition of their work to promote, produce, and support the Lake Area’s arts and cultural endeavors and programs. Julie Dallas, Arts Educator of the Year 2010, created original vases as part of each recipient’s award.

Chester Daigle, a celebrated musician, was awarded Artist of the Year, and he accepted the award with his wife, Pat, at his side. Daigle has been performing and promoting jazz in the Lake Area for over 40 years, particularly through the family’s nonprofit organization Jazz in the Arts which provides community-based jazz concerts to foster jazz music education. “Chester continually proves to be a leader in our jazz community, and the deep musical culture of Lake Charles is safe in his ever-capable hands,” stated Mayor Roach during the ceremony.

Stellar Beans Coffee House was awarded Citizen of the Arts for its presence as a creative space for musicians, writers, and artists to exhibit and perform in. Since opening in 2010, Stellar Beans has hosted regular art events and fundraisers, including NikFest which donates musical instruments to the Bulber Youth Orchestra. Danita Noland and Matt Smith accepted the award on behalf of owner Valerie Smith.

Friends of Central School, Laura Leach,
Annette Ballard, Randy Lanza with
Mayor Roach
The Citizen of the Humanities Award was given to the nonprofit organization Friends of Central School, and Chairperson Laura Leach with committee members Annette Ballard and Randy Lanza accepted the award. Since 2007, Friends of Central School has been dedicated to the preservation of Central School as both a historic structure and an arts center. The group’s success can be seen in the addition of the Snead Fountain and events such as the annual Haunted House and the Centennial Celebration. Earlier this year Friends of Central School worked with the City of Lake Charles to dedicate the auditorium to the late Benjamin W. Mount who was integral, with his wife Willie Mount, in saving the historic building in the early 1990s.

Mayor Roach honored Tracy Beaugh of Sowela Technical Community College with Arts Educator of the Year for her work with graphic design students. A graduate of Sowela, Beaugh has been an award-winning educator since 2000 and many of her students have gone on to make great impacts in the graphic design field across the country. The Patron of the Year Award was given to L’Auberge Casino Resort and its parent company Pinnacle for their commitment to supporting arts organizations and programs in the Lake Area. L’Auberge and the Pinnacle Entertainment Foundation have dedicated sponsorships to many of the area’s most loved organizations such as the Lake Charles Civic Ballet, Black Heritage Festival, and the Arts Council, among others. “By lending an arts organization the resources needed for its success,” Mayor Roach said, “business are playing a direct role in the betterment and livability of our community.” Keith W. Henson, Senior Vice President & GM, and Harold Rowland, Vice President & AGM, accepted the award from Mayor Roach.

Nancy Vallee of the Whistle Stop accepted the Arts Organization of the Year Award for the Dancing Classrooms program which began in 1994 nationally by the American Ballroom Theatre Company. Dancing Classrooms teaches 5th grade students a variety of ballroom dances in order to encourage confidence, respect, and an improved academic performance. This year the Whistle Stop facilitates over 60 classes in 28 schools, and the program’s innovative premise has shown to have astounding positive effects in the lives of area students and teachers.

Keystone Award Recipient,
Pam Breaux, with Mayor Roach
The Keystone Award is traditionally awarded to an individual who works behind the scenes; similar to a keystone in architecture, the recipient is vital to an arts community’s success. Pam Breaux, Assistant Secretary to the Department of Culture, Recreation & Tourism under Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne, was recognized for supporting the arts for Lake Charles and for the state. Breaux served as executive director for the Arts Council for six years, during which she managed our region’s allocation of the Decentralized Arts Funding grant program which distributes funds to arts initiatives across Louisiana. Breaux serves as the Vice President of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies and as a board member for Louisiana Partnership for the Arts and the Louisiana Cultural Economy Foundation, and her years of experience have helped to make the area’s arts community what it is today. Mayor Roach stated, “It’s an understatement to say that Pam has been a big part of the arts…Pam has been a crusader, and her work has grown our own cultural economy by leaps and bounds.”

The Mayor’s Arts Awards was held in conjunction with Founder’s Day, an annual banquet hosted by Art Associates of Lake Charles. Mayor Roach presented a proclamation to Art Associates for its 55 year history as an avid promoter of area artists. After the recipients were honored, Breaux gave a presentation on trends in the arts nationally and statewide, and Mayor Roach awarded the winners of the Art Associates Gallery’s Lydia & Joe Cash Juried Exhibition. A reception for the exhibit and for Black Heritage Gallery’s View My Soles exhibit was held after the ceremony.

Nominations for the Mayor’s Arts Awards are accepted year-round and can be emailed to For more information on this event or the Arts Council, visit or call (337) 439-2787.

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