On Friday, October 11th, in the Benjamin W. Mount Auditorium at Central School, the Arts Council of SWLA and the City of Lake Charles recognized the contributions of the creative workforce during the annual Mayor’s Arts Awards. Mayor Randy Roach presented awards to eight area leaders in the arts.
Photographer Lindsey Janies, who has invested her photography business in bettering the area, was honored with the prestigious Artist of the Year Award. Janies has worked closely with the SWLA Economic Development Alliance to fill their new SEED Center with an extensive collection of Southwest Louisiana-inspired photographs. She also worked with the Alliance to provide the art work for the popular book Southwest Louisiana: A Treasure Revealed. In addition, Janies has donated over $10,000 in her artwork to West Cal Cam Hospital’s new maternity ward, and she continually volunteers her talent for projects that promote the area.
George Swift, the President/CEO of the SWLA Economic Development Alliance, was awarded Patron of the Year for his initiative to establish and grow a cultural economy movement in the five parish region. His work with regional agencies, including the Arts Council, has produced the Cultural Economy Team – a collective of regional stakeholders who recently presented a region-wide strategic plan for the arts to the Office of Cultural Development in Baton Rouge. Mayor Roach stated during the ceremony, “George and the Chamber have helped fuel community progression by nurturing a region-wide attitude of collaboration and by voicing…the economic value of our creative capital.”
Susan Rodgers, art teacher at Sam Houston High School, was awarded Arts Educator of the Year for her commitment to enrich her students’ lives through creativity. With over 20 years of experience, Rodgers has made an incredible impact in the community by sponsoring art clubs and working with student exhibits and school beautification efforts.
Rick and Donna Richard of Empire of the Seed were awarded Citizens of the Humanities for their dedication to preserve historic sites as well as create new vibrant buildings in downtown Lake Charles. Rick, who was the chairman for Downtown Development Authority for three years, and Donna, who serves on several boards, including the Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation, have invested their energy and resources into restoring Lake Charles landmarks such as the Cash and Carry Building, Noble Building, and Calcasieu Marine Bank. Mayor Roach stated, “[Rick and Donna]’s vision is steadfast and ambitious, and they inherently understand that our community’s future is depended upon our connection to the heart of Lake Charles.”
The Arts Organization of the Year Award was given to Common Ground. Its members were recognized for their work in creating the quickly growing Culture Fest Louisiana, which celebrates the diversity of Southwest Louisiana’s many cultures. More than 7,000 people attended 2012’s festival. “With the influx of new families coming to Southwest Louisiana, Culture Fest is positioned to help reinforce our own connectivity while making culturally-diverse families feel welcome and accepted,” Mayor Roach said during the presentation.
Lady Holly Hathaway Kaough, artistic director of the Lake Charles Civic Ballet, was honored with Citizen of the Arts for her drive to expand the impact of the Civic Ballet. Mayor Roach stated, “[Her] dynamic programming is a cross-pollination of art forms, and her leadership…brings the Civic Ballet and Southwest Louisiana to a larger nation-wide stage.” Under Lady Holly’s leadership, the Civic Ballet partnered with the Lake Charles Symphony to create Assemblé, a new annual series of multidisciplinary performances on one stage.
The Keystone Award is named for the vital centerpiece of an archway, and the away is given to those working behind the scenes to produce and facilitate arts events and initiatives. Debbie Howrey and Lisa Schram of the Lake Charles Symphony were honored with the award for their endless dedication to making the Symphony more creative, progressive, and accessible. “While you may only know the Symphony through the beautiful orchestra performances,” Mayor Roach stated, “Debbie and Lisa are part of the backbone…that make any of it possible.”
Presentations were also given by Pam Breaux of the Office of Cultural Development and George Swift of the Alliance, and Mayor Roach awarded the winners of the Art Associates Gallery’s Lydia & Joe Cash Juried Exhibition.
Nominations for the Mayor’s Arts Awards are accepted year-round. For more information on this event or the Arts Council, visit www.artsandhumanitiesswla.org or call (337) 439-2787.