It’s our mission at the Arts & Humanities Council of Southwest Louisiana to support arts and culture initiatives, events, and organizations in the 5-parish area that bring an unique cultural experience to local citizens, and to help bolster tourism and economic growth through the arts and humanities.
1. We support the arts and cultural initiatives and programs you enjoy.
The Arts Council functions as an umbrella organization to over sixty nonprofit arts organizations and countless artists and co-ops throughout the five parish region. If you’ve ever been to the Black Heritage Festival, visited the Art Associates Gallery, acted on stage for the Lake Charles Little Theatre, or enjoyed a performance from the McNeese Banners Cultural Series, you have been affected by our services and grants.
Since 2005 we have allocated nearly $2 million to SWLA communities through four annual grant programs:
- Decentralized Arts Funding Grant: Funded by the Louisiana Division of the Arts and is distributed to all 64 parishes on a per-capita basis, and the Arts Council awards SWLA’s share of the funding.
- City of Lake Charles Partnership Grant: Funded by the City of Lake Charles and is awarded to organizations and agencies within the Lake Charles city limits for arts and cultural programming and to nonprofit arts organizations for organizational support.
- Calcasieu Parish Police Jury Grant: Funded by the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury for arts and cultural programming for organizations within Calcasieu Parish.
- Tourism Marketing Initiative Grant: Funded by the Lake Charles/SWLA Convention & Visitors Bureau for nonprofit arts and cultural organizations to use for marketing tools and promotional efforts that help to boost visibility, attendance, and marketability for arts programming.
2. We facilitate annual events and festivals that bolster tourism and economic growth within the region.
The arts can be utilized as catalysts for urban and rural development and they generate livability for an area which can attract new businesses, encourage civic involvement, and increase tourism dollars.
Our events include:
- Poetry Out Loud: An arts education program facilitated by the Arts Council on behalf of the Louisiana Division of the Arts, and it challenges high school students to memorize and recite poetry competitively in a tiered nationwide contest.
- Live @ the Lakefront Concert Series: A music festival co-presented by the Arts Council and the City of Lake Charles which features local and regional musicians and bands for three Fridays at the Lakefront Promenade.
- Spring Art Walk: An annual downtown art walk which showcases over 100 local artists and turns dozens of downtown restaurants, businesses, coffee houses, and even vacant buildings into art galleries for the evening. A competitive art war competition is also held.
- Arts & Crabs Fest: As one of only three crab festivals in Louisiana, this unique festival celebrates the rebirth of SWLA’s seafood industry after the 2010 BP oil spill and the 2005 and 2008 hurricanes, and it features local restaurants preparing crab dishes paired with Abita beers, live music, and art displays. Co-presented by the Lake Charles/SWLA Convention & Visitors Bureau.
- Gallery Promenade: A fall gallery walk that showcases art spaces and galleries across the Lake Area as they open their doors for an extensive and simultaneous reception for their current hanging exhibits.
- Mayor’s Arts Awards: Mayor Randy Roach recognizes and honors those working diligently in the SWLA arts scene with awards for Artist of the Year, Citizen of the Arts, Citizen of the Humanities, Patron of the Year, Arts Organization of the Year, Arts Educator of the Year, and the Keystone Award which honors those who work behind the scenes.
- ArtsFest: A free children’s art festival co-presented by the City of Lake Charles which fosters an interest in learning by engaging SWLA children in creating art projects centered around each year’s theme. Past themes include global cultures, SWLA workforce, astronomy, and multicultural holidays.
- Holiday Art Market: Located at Central School, the Holiday Art Market offers an array of fine and handmade items by local artists, with 10% of the proceeds benefiting a Lake Area organization.
3. We act as a clearinghouse of resources and information for artists, arts organizations, and cultural projects.
Through networking programs and promotional services, we are able to offer expertise and experience to those working in the arts in SWLA who need assistance and resources for their careers and projects. Our bi-monthly Regional Arts Network luncheons include seminars and workshops on topics from self-marketing to website design and also provide networking opportunities for artists.
The HEartBEAT Weekly e-Newsletter, which reaches over 1,200 SWLA residents and businesses, sends out weekly emails about local art events, and our extensive artist directory allows artists across all genres to promote their work and also learn about grant opportunities and calls for artists. Our event calendar keeps track of all arts and cultural events in SWLA so you can plan your after hours schedule with live music listings, festivals, exhibits, and performances. Our Facebook and Twitter accounts allow you to access the arts on a moment’s notice and to get plugged into SWLA.
4. We act as the region’s voice in the statewide arena for arts funding advocacy.
Through our partnerships and connections with other regional arts councils and advocacy agencies, we are able to participate fully in an ongoing dialogue with legislators and decision-makers to show the importance of full arts funding to our state’s identity and economy. Arts Advocacy Day in May allows all arts enthusiasts to demonstrate the need for arts funding at the State Capitol in Baton Rouge.
5. We believe the arts translate easily into economic growth.
The arts are a powerful indicator of urban health and economic development. National studies and reports from the National Endowment for the Arts and Americans for the Arts show that the arts generated $135 billion nationally in 2011 and supported 4 million jobs which generated over $12.6 billion in federal income taxes. Measured against direct federal arts funding of about $1.4 billion, that’s a return of nearly nine to one. In Louisiana $9 is generated for each $1 that is invested in the arts, and the arts industry employs the state’s second largest workforce. The festivals and events that arts organizations produce attract tourism dollars to the area and also utilize local products and services from sound equipment and catering to vendors and marketing. In the end, the original dollars invested into an arts event have multiplied within the community.
The Arts & Humanities Council is supported by the City of Lake Charles, Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau, and by a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council. Funding has also been provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, Art Works. The support of these organizations, and the patronage of the public, allows the Arts Council to achieve its mission.