NEA Awards Arts Council $150,000 Grant
“Friends With You” creators team with Academy Award-winner William Joyce
National Endowment for the ARTS (NEA) Chairman Jane Chu announced the award of a $150,000 “Our Town” program grant to the Shreveport Regional Arts Council (SRAC). The award is one of 60 such awards totaling $4.1 million supporting the celebration of arts in local communities across the nation. SRAC will match the grant with funds from the city of Shreveport and support from area foundations and corporations.
“Kicking off January 2019, SRAC and the city of Shreveport will bring nationally renowned ‘Friends With You’ creators Samuel Albert Borkson and Arturo Sandoval III to Shreveport to work with Academy Awardwinning animation director William Joyce, Shreveport Common partners and social service agencies, and area artists, to create and oversee a series of five projects throughout the 2019 year,” said Pam Atchison, executive director of the Shreveport Regional Arts
Council. “The culmination of these projects includes a block-long installation of inflated colorful characters in the Shreveport Common neighborhood to spread the ‘FriendsWithYou’ positive message of Magic, Luck and Friendship,” added Atchison.
Friends With You is the fine art collaborative of Borkson and Sandoval, creators of inflatable installations that have appeared around the world and in the new Netflix series, “True and the Rainbow Kingdom.” Working collectively since 2002, these artists are known for immersive installations created with a variety of mediums including painting, sculpture, large-scale experiential installations, live performances, virtual reality and animation. Their reductive and simplified use of geometric abstraction always contains a whimsical touch.
“This is a perfect arts and city-led revitalization project for Shreveport Common, the historic yet long-blighted nineblock area at the west edge of downtown Shreveport and eastern Ledbetter Heights/ HUD Choice Neighborhoods,” said Wendy Benscoter, Shreveport Common executive director. “Borkson and Sandoval’s work invites viewers to reconnect with neighbors and friends of Shreveport Common to share community experiences that promote the FriendsWithYou mission of Magic, Luck and Friendship,” added Benscoter.
Borkson and Sandoval expressed their delight at the notice of their first NEA-funded project and their eagerness to join local area artists and make new friends in Northwest Louisiana. “Our goal is to share the hope of personal, physical and community transformation through our art.”
Borkson, Sandoval and Joyce share a collective vision of a “Rainbow City” installation in the Shreveport Common neighborhood. This will be the next important visualization of the nationally featured, creative place-making vision plan process for this neighborhood. Thirty public/ private partners have invested $45M in 36 community-changing initiatives including artists’ live/work, market and maker spaces in formerly blighted buildings, uncommon public art and programming, innovative green spaces and transportation initiatives in Shreveport Common. The year-long project with FriendsWithYou will expand these efforts through five projects that will place artists in residence for three months with the residents of four Shreveport Common social service organizations including Providence House, Mercy Center, the VOA LightHouse and VOA Mercy Center to engage the residents in sculpture creation. The community and the social service organizations will create inflatable sculptures to march in a nine-block balloon parade through the streets of Shreveport Common, landing in “Rainbow City.”
The Shreveport Regional Arts Council and FriendsWithYou will kick off this series of five projects funded by the NEA and the city of Shreveport in January 2019 in Shreveport Common. The community will be invited to participate in various ways including the creation of “character” balloons to include in the parade, school tours, educational outreach and more. Visit shrevearts.org for more information and to watch for additional programming as this project develops.
– Pat Viser