Funding the Common
SRAC awarded Education Foundation of America funds
Shreveport Regional Arts Council was awarded a $190,000 grant from the Education Foundation of America to further advance Shreveport Common.
SRAC Executive Director Pam Atchison made the announcement Nov. 12, with Heidi Ettinger, chair of the arts committee, and David Stocks, arts program officer, both of the Education Foundation of America in attendance.
“It is remarkable and wonderful and frankly, because of a remarkable and wonderful artist, Nick Cave,” Atchison said.
Cave is an internationally renowned artist and a SRAC artist in residence, who is bringing his creative project, and one of his largest performances yet, to Shreveport-Bossier City. His performance art pieces are called “soundsuits.” These suits, created by the Shreveport-Bossier City community and in Cave’s studio, will be part of a performance by members of the arts community at the event titled, “AS IS,” on March 20 at the Shreveport Municipal Memorial Auditorium.
Shreveport Mayor Ollie Tyler attended the grant’s announcement and thanked SRAC for its work on Shreveport Common.
“We are so proud of Shreveport Common and what it will evolve into in the future.” Tyler said. “This nine-block urban arts community incorporates major projects including housing, transportation, greenspace and a big art and workforce development. It’s concepts like this that make our community rich with a type of cultural opportunities and events that produce the quality of life events that our citizens expect and deserve.”
Tyler said she sees Shreveport Common and the work with Cave as an effort of unity in Shreveport.
Specifically, SRAC and Cave are working with nonprofits including Providence House, Mercy Center, VOA McAdoo and the Youth Programs at the VOA Lighthouse; and seven artists from the Northwest Louisiana Artists: Sherry Tamburo, Heather Beauvais, Luther Cox Jr., Poetic X, Jerry Davenport, Karen La Beau and Kathryn Usher.
Thirty beaded sound suits will be created for the performance.
“We each have a chance to tell our own story and come to grips with who each of us are ‘as is’ and except one another, no matter what kind of quirks or worries or idiosyncrasies we may have that we in Shreveport Common – more than anywhere else in the world – except, love and embrace each other ‘as is,’” she said, “and that is the first part of the grant, specifically through the Educational Foundation of America is helping us ensure that working along side Nick Cave and Bob Faust for the next eight months and are at least 75 artists who be compensated for their work.”
Atchison said Shreveport Common could be home to artists along with the current residents.
“Because our goal is no displacement of the neighbors in Shreveport Common,” she said.
Artist housing is the second part of the Education Foundation of America’s grant. Funds will support a survey that studies capacity and the market.
“[The] capacity and market survey of local artists in Northwest Louisiana [will] determine if in Shreveport Common we can indeed support a real artist live and work space – a space that is affordable for artists, has a gallery in it and has studio space within their housing arrangement,” Atchison said.
Stocks said Shreveport Common is a long term commitment and the foundation aids in creative placemaking.
“Here in Shreveport, the vision was clear and it was strongly supported. The plan was inclusive of the entire community and was carefully done. The capacity of both people, the commitment of the government and partners has been both long-term.”
Stocks said the foundation is excited to support Cave and his project with the community and local artists.
“I’m excited to continue the work that I do,” Cave said. “The beauty of it is that I see art as an idea for change – I’m nothing more than a change agent and it’s important that I take the liberty and find ways in which I can incorporate what happens in my studio and then move that outside of the institutions and the galleries and get more into the public realms and work in the fields and find ways to be the voice for many other people.”
Cave said he enjoys working in this manner and it shows him that art can promote change and be effective.
“Art can be the voice for others,” he said. Previously, the Education Foundation of America awarded SRAC three grants, assisting SRAC after the fire of 2009. The foundation provided aid in the design work of the Central ARTSTATION building. Architectural fees were covered by the foundation.
For more information on bead-athons or the March 20 performance, go to shrevearts.org or follow SRAC on Facebook at facebook.com/ shreveportregionalartscouncil.