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Monday, June 29, 2020

Our Art, History Embedded In


Shreveport Regional Arts Council stands with Black Lives Matter

The Shreveport Regional Arts Council stands with our artists and audiences to declare that Black Lives Matter. We are grateful for the creative way that artists are participating in peaceful demonstrations that speak to current and historic injustices. Let us take a moment to reflect upon and highlight the critically important and lasting contributions black artists and arts organizations have produced and presented for Shreveport and Northwest Louisiana.

Shreveport’s cultural scene was founded by black artists – from the early days of Texas Avenue with the Star Theatre (1930 - 1958), the Calanthean Temple and its rooftop stage that brought musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Dizzie Gillespie, Count Basie and Jelly Roll Morton (1917 – 1965), and even the first international performer at the Municipal Auditorium – opera singer Roland Hayes (1929).

The legacy of artistic and community impact by black artists and organizers thrives in dynamic community changing organizations founded in the late 1960s and early 1970s

by black artists. Some of these founders are Gloria Gipson, Theatre of the Performing Arts; Luther Cox, Inter City Row Modern Dance Company; Roosevelt Daniel (deceased) and now Jamelah El-Amin, PAMOJA African- American Art Society; Ron Hardy, Playaz & Playettes; Bobby Wiggins (deceased) and Patricia Brittain-Hall, New Arts Cultural Society.

More recently, our community benefits from visionary black artists and the companies they have formed including Louis Wells, Shreveport Regional Jazz Ensemble; Roshanda Spears, Shufflin’ Along; Vincent Williams, Extensions of Excellence; Angelique Feaster- Evan, Mahogany Ensemble Theatre; William James, The Lighthouse Theatre; Poetic X; and Alexis Tucker, Ratchet City Music Fest.

Black arts educators inspire a knowledge, skill and love for the arts, teaching our children visual, music, theatre, dance and literary arts education in Caddo schools and area public, private and charter schools. Professional black artists like Jerry and Tarama Davenport, Eric Francis, Angelique Feaster, Ron Hardy and Thelma Harrison teach at ArtBreak, ARTSPACE, recreation centers and summer camp programs throughout the region.

The Shreveport Regional Arts Council is partnering with Northwest Louisiana’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Grambling State University and Southern University to identify and celebrate the Professional Artists’ Alumni. This fall, we will present “Homecoming,” an exhibition and performance created by the Artists’ Alumni. Spearheading the effort as resident and master class artists are performance director Roshanda Spears, visual arts director Eric Francis, and Brenda Wimberly, master class technician.

Shreveport’s cultural and physical landscape is shaped, painted and sculpted by African- American and black American artists:

• Indigenous Celebration: The bronze abstract sculpture at Riverfront Park created by Atlanta artist Curtis Patterson.

• Homage to Shreveport: The sculpture located in the Aseana Gardens, by Frank Hayden.

• Huddie Ledbetter: Bronze sculpture by Jesse Pitts on Texas Street pointing to Ledbetter Heights.

• The Closing Stand: A sculptural homage to Martin Luther King, created by Albert LaVergne.

• Quilt Kiosks: Two sculptures on the corner of McNeil and Texas, created as a collaboration between a black female artist, Frances Drew, and a white female artist, Barbara Abbott, with significant public participation in 1995.

• Once in a Millennium Moon: Mural on the AT&T building. A team of artists including Eric Francis, Terry Coleman, Woodrow Evans, Patrick Marshall and Quentin Johnson were commissioned to lead the massive community process.

• Home: Local artist Whitney Tates designed the mural for Providence House.

• The new I-220 gateways into the MLK neighborhood feature relief designs by local artist Ron Smith.

Black artists have helped us see, look and explore who we are and what our actions say about us. Internationally renowned social change artist Nick Cave – who created his first “Sound Suit” after Rodney King was the victim of police brutality – worked with Shreveport artists and neighbors to create 65 beaded blankets symbolizing the burdens carried by the disenfranchised. Black artists Jerry Davenport, Karen LaBeau, Poetic X, Luther Cox, Brenda Wimberly and Sereca Henderson had leading roles in the production “AS IS by NICK CAVE” that featured more than 100 black artists and residents of Providence House, Mercy Center, VOA McAdoo Center and students from the VOA Lighthouse.

The Shreveport Regional Arts Council cannot imagine what Shreveport – Northwest Louisiana – America – would be without the vision, skill and contribution of black artists. The board and staff of the Shreveport Regional Arts Council will continue to work diligently to ensure that our policies and practices, programs, review processes, organizational makeup and resources are responsive to black artists, audiences and communities. We applaud the work of Northwest Louisiana black artists and arts organizations, and arts organizations who embrace diversity in their staff, board and programming.


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