How the Flying Tiger Brewery is changing the Monroe nonprofit landscape

In only its first year of business, the first craft brewery in Monroe, LA generated more than $30,000 in fundraising money for small, local nonprofits.

“We’re passionate about beer, but we’re also passionate about our community,” said Rob Brewer, co-found of Flying Tiger Brewery.

The name of the brewery itself commemorates community and charity. Flying Tiger Brewery is named after the World War II Flying Tiger pilots, led by General Claire Lee Chennault of northeast Louisiana. The brewery pays homage to the American heroes in a corporate membership to the Chennault Aviation & Military Museum, striking can artwork, and even a replica of the famous shark-faced plane hanging above the bar in the taproom.

Flying Tiger Brewery has helped raise money at the taproom for deserving nonprofits like the Children’s Coalition for Northeast Louisiana, SOS Pets of Ouachita, Louisiana Purchase Gardens & Zoo and more. It even created a Warhawk Kölsch beer, with 5 percent of gross sales going directly to the University of Louisiana Monroe scholarship fund. The brewery is particularly involved in the arts community, sponsoring the Downtown Art Crawl and hiring local artists to design can work and merchandise.

“The key for us is being hands on and involved. It’s more rewarding,” Brewer said. “One of the components of craft beer is community. If we want our community to support this new arts culture and downtown revitalization, we ought to put our money where our mouth is.”

In summer 2018, Flying Tiger Brewery will host the Arts Council’s Northeast Louisiana Summer Film Series. The first film, Heart of a Tiger, documents the story of one of the Flying Tigers shot down by the enemy, who survived with the help of Chinese farmers. The Arts Council is partnering with Chennault Aviation & Military Museum for this section of the film series.

It may seem like an odd partnership, but it’s a natural connection in Monroe – art, airplanes, and beer. By coming together for the Northeast Louisiana Summer Film Series, the brewery, museum and Arts Council all thrive with new audiences, new business, and a better community.

“We’ve gotten the good will benefit and new audiences. That wasn’t the business plan. If your heart is in the right place, it will work out for you,” Brewer said. “Being involved with good people and good things is its own reward.”

The Northeast Louisiana Film Series will screen films at the Flying Tiger Brewery on May 16, June 20, July 18 and August 15. The Northeast Louisiana Summer Film Series is sponsored by Monroe-West Monroe Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Northeast Louisiana Summer Film Series

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Northeast Louisiana Summer Film Series

Northeast Louisiana Summer Film Series

The Arts Council of Northeast Louisiana is proud to present the first ever Northeast Louisiana Summer Film Series.

All films will be shown at dusk at the Flying Tiger Brewery every third Wednesday this summer. Tickets for non-members are $5. Arts Council members will receive free tickets. To become a member of the Arts Council, click here. Films include:

May 16 – Heart of a Tiger

World War II Flying Tiger pilot Glen Beneda is shot down behind enemy lines, and found by foreign farmers. Only strength and the help of strangers will get him out of this secret mission alive. The Arts Council partners with the Chennault Aviation and Military Museum to screen this documentary directed by Academy Award winner Malcolm Clarke.

View the trailer here.

June 20 – It’s All Over But to Cry

Louisiana’s spirit of survival meets the powers of Hurricane Audrey, the deadliest cyclone in American history. The Arts Council partners with Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge to feature this Louisiana-directed and Louisiana-made film.

View the trailer here.

July 18 – Five Awake

Directed by a Louisiana woman, this film follows the fierce efforts of five women who are fed up with domestic violence. The women push anti-domestic violence laws through the Louisiana legislature to protect their sisters across the state. The Arts Council partners with The Wellspring to feature this film.

View the trailer here.

August 15 – I Am the Blues

The delta is the birthplace of America’s music, and this film honors the original men and women who created the art of blues. Filmed across the Louisiana and Mississippi delta, this film explores the music and musicians of the famed Chitlin’ Circuit. The Arts Council partners with KEDM to screen this documentary.

View the trailer here.

The Northeast Louisiana Summer Film Series is sponsored by the Flying Tiger Brewery and the Monroe-West Monroe Convention and Visitors Bureau.

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New research shows 9,922 northeast Louisiana schoolchildren have no arts classes

Arts Education Northeast Louisiana

New research from the Arts Council of Northeast Louisiana shows that nearly half of public schoolchildren in rural northeast Louisiana have no opportunity to study arts in the school year.

The Arts Council surveyed 51 schools in Caldwell, East Carroll, Franklin, Jackson, Madison, Morehouse, Richland, Tensas, Union and West Carroll Parishes. The Arts Council found that of the 20,279 children in public schools, 49 percent have no opportunity to study any art form – visual art, music, theatre, dance or otherwise.

“The children don’t even have a chance to decide whether or not they want to take an art class. Budget constraints are deciding for them,” said Arts Council CEO/President Barry C. Stevens.

Of the 10 parishes surveyed, only two – Madison and Union – have 100 percent arts education opportunity access. The remaining eight parishes only offer arts education to select students. Some parishes, like Caldwell, only offer arts education to middle and high school students, but not to elementary students. Some schools have found funding to teach arts to those students identified as “talented” by the state, but do not have funding to hire a full-time arts teacher accessible to the entire student body.

“We’ve spoken to administrators and superintendents in our rural parishes. They do not want to cut arts. Their hands are tied with a lack of funding,” Stevens said. “Unfortunately, too often arts programs are the first to suffer.”

The Arts Council is investigating sustainable and impactful initiatives to give arts education opportunities to rural schoolchildren that have none. For the full research report, click here.

About the Northeast Louisiana Arts Council

The Arts Council of Northeast Louisiana seeks to nurture a vibrant regional arts culture through support, promotion and education. The Arts Council of Northeast Louisiana strives to be a transformative force for the community by encouraging a passion for the arts, promoting partnerships and collaboration, and ensuring access to the arts for all.


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Spring Brown Bag Lunch Concert Series Lineup Announced

Northeast Louisiana Arts Council Brown Bag Lunch Concert Series

Take your lunch break outside during this beautiful spring weather during the Arts Council of Northeast Louisiana’s FREE Brown Bag Concert Series. Everyone is welcome to come out at noon every Wednesday in April at Anna Gray Noe Park. The park is located in downtown Monroe between St. Francis Medical Center and the courthouse.

Limited seating is available, and picnic blankets and lawn chairs are welcome. The Cookout Food Truck will be selling food as well. The Arts Council’s Brown Bag Lunch Concert Series is sponsored by CenturyLink, Origin Bank and the City of Monroe. Complimentary cookies are provided by Mulhearn Corporation. Lemonade and water are provided by First Baptist Church of Monroe, which is also the rain plan venue.

April 4 – Josh Madden

When Madden is not hosting KEDM’s “The Set List” or teaching guitar and piano, he’s performing live at venues around town and the region. His musical influences are Jerry Lee Lewis, Ray Charles, and Elton John on the piano, and Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Dave Matthews on guitar. Today he brings those flavors and more to get our series off to a rocking start.

April 11 – Landry Allen, Danny Allen, Brian Allen and Julian Jones

Joining the Arts Council for an encore at the series, Landry Allen is a junior at West Ouachita High School where he serves as Choir President. Allen’s talent has been recognized by his selection as first chair Tenor 1 at the District 1 Louisiana Music Educators Association (LMEA) auditions as well as performances in the LMEA All-State Mixed choir and American Choral Directors Association All-State Men’s Choir. Allen will be accompanied by Danny Allen on bass guitar, Brian Allen on drums, and ULM music faculty member Julian Jones on keyboard.

April 18 – Rod Payne and Lisa Spann

The series mellows out as Rod Payne and Lisa Spann join the Arts Council at the park. The duo will perform show tunes, old standards, easy listening, and more. These two provide the classic example of how the perfect blend of voice, repertoire, and setting can make for an extraordinary experience. This will be a must-see feature of the series that promises a great way to spend lunch on a beautiful spring midday.

April 25 – Mason Granade

A long-time series favorite, Granade has performed for over 30 years and is a regular at regional cafes and night spots, and as Worship Leader at Bethel Baptist Church in West Monroe. Granade finds inspiration from Eagles, America and The Beatles. He has recorded an album with Matthews-Granade, and his songs were featured in R-Squared movies “New Hope” and “Flag of My Father,” where he had a cameo. Sneak a listen online at, then join the Arts Council for this rocking series finale at the park.


About the Northeast Louisiana Arts Council

The Arts Council of Northeast Louisiana seeks to nurture a vibrant regional arts culture through support, promotion and education. The Arts Council of Northeast Louisiana strives to be a transformative force for the community by encouraging a passion for the arts, promoting partnerships and collaboration, and ensuring access to the arts for all.

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2018 Arts Awards Winners

Arts Awards winners

The Arts Council of Northeast Louisiana held its 33rd annual Northeast Louisiana Arts Awards at 6:30 p.m. March 1 at the Vantage Health Plan, Inc. Banquet Room. Origin Bank sponsored the event. In attendance was Louisiana Division of the Arts Executive Director, Cheryl Castille, who gave remarks.

The Edmund Williamson Artist of the Year Award went to the visual artist ensemble of EmJ Cruz and Ali Hijazi, nominated by the Downtown Arts Alliance and presented by Arts Council board chair Michael Sawyer. Cruz and Hijazi are debuting a public art piece at the Monroe Regional Airport this month. They received a stained glass sculpture made by local artist Bruce Fleming. Other nominees included:

  • Dr. Scot Humes, nominated by the Monroe Symphony Orchestra
  • Gretchen Jones, nominated by the Twin City Ballet
  • Michael Levine, nominated by the Louisiana Delta Ballet

Visual artist Accie Sullivan won the Dorothy Bassett Emerging Artist Award, presented by Arts Council board member and professional artist Courtney Wetzel. He was nominated by the Downtown Arts Alliance. Sullivan received a stained glass sculpture by local artist Bruce Fleming, as well as a $1,000 cash prize to further his professional career as an artist. Sullivan will graduate from ULM in May and is applying to various graduate school programs across the nation. Other Dorothy Bassett Emerging Artist Award nominees were Krislynne Flowers of the Twin City Ballet, and Taylor Smith of the Louisiana Delta Ballet.


Arts Council Administrative Vice Chair Ashley K. West will announce the nominees of Volunteer of the Year Award. Bobbye Legan of the Monroe Symphony League won, and she received a handmade wooden bowl by local artisan Audie Maxey. Other nominees included:

  • Jen Brister, nominated by the Downtown Arts Alliance
  • Marilyn Koepke, nominated by the Monroe Symphony Orchestra
  • Lacy Miletello, nominated by the Louisiana Delta Ballet
  • Celeste Shivers, nominated by The Princess Theatre
  • Darris Waren, nominated by the Twin City Ballet

Patti Nelson, Origin Bank senior vice president of retail banking and past Arts Council board chair, presented the BART Award. The BART Award, or Business Art Award, recognizes the importance of corporate participation in stabilizing and expanding the arts.

Evans Oil Company, nominated by the Louisiana Delta Ballet, took home the BART Award and the lidded raku jar prize made by local artist Gary Ratcliff. Other 2018 BART nominees were Flying Tiger Brewery, nominated by the Downtown Arts Alliance, and Plunk’s Wrecker Service, nominated by the Twin City Ballet.

Arts Council grant funds Seussical the Musical

Seussical the Musical

Strauss Youth Academy for the Arts presents Seussical the Musical, funded in part by an Arts Council decentralized arts funding grant.

The Cat in the Hat tells the story of Horton, an elephant who discovers a speck of dust that contains the Whos, including JoJo, a Who child sent off to military school for thinking too many “thinks.” Horton faces a double challenge: not only must he protect the Whos from a world of naysayers and dangers, but he must guard an abandoned egg, left in his care by the irresponsible Mayzie La Bird. Although Horton faces ridicule, danger, kidnapping and a trial, the intrepid Gertrude McFuzz never loses faith in him. Ultimately, the powers of friendship, loyalty, family and community are challenged and emerge triumphant.

You can see Seussical the Musical on February 24-25 and March 3-4. Tickets can be purchased here.

Activities of the Northeast Louisiana Arts Council and Strauss Youth Academy for the Arts are supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Louisiana State Arts Council, and the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism.

Arts Council sponsors Strauss Theatre’s Smoke on the Mountain

smoke on the mountain cast

Smoke on the Mountain tells the story of a Saturday Night Gospel Sing at a country church in North Carolina’s Smoky Mountains in 1938. The show features two dozen rousing bluegrass songs played and sung by the Sanders Family, a traveling group making its return to performing after a five-year hiatus. Pastor Oglethorpe, the young and enthusiastic minister of Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, has enlisted the Sanders Family in his efforts to bring his tiny congregation into “the modern world.” Between songs, each family member “witnesses” – telling a story about an important event in their life. Though they try to appear perfect in the eyes of a congregation who wants to be inspired by their songs, one thing after another goes awry and they reveal their true – and hilariously imperfect – natures. By the evening’s end, the Sanders Family have endeared themselves to us by revealing their weaknesses and allowing us to share in their triumphs.
(Synopsis from Samuel French)

Tickets are $30 (+tax) for adults and $10 (+tax) for students and can be purchased by calling the box office at (318) 323-6681 or by following this link.

You can see Smoke on the Mountain on February 16, 17, 18, 21, 23 and 24.

The Arts Council of Northeast Louisiana is proud to sponsor this show.

Valentine’s Date Night Ideas

Valentine's Day

Love is in the air. Celebrate Valentine’s Day with the one you love at the opera, symphony or theatre.

Louisiana Opera presents The Merry Widow

Celebrate Valentine’s Day and Mardi Gras with the Louisiana Opera at their Mardi Gras celebratory fundraiser. Grab that special someone and listen to beautiful music at 7 p.m. February 9 at the romantic Ouachita Grand Plaza. Regional musicians will present excerpts from The Merry Widow in English with a theatrical presentation with dancing. Singers include Betsy Uschkrat, Corey McKern, Tyler Smith, Claire Vangelisti, Ron Ulen, Julian Jones and the ULM Chorus.

Individual tickets are $40. Tables are $250. More information here.

Monroe Symphony Orchestra Valentine Pops Concert

Dance the night away to classic romance songs with your sweetheart at 7 p.m. February 10. Don’t miss the Monroe Symphony Orchestra pops concert featuring the smooth, baritone vocals of Irvin Caesar as he sings the classics of Nat “King” Cole and many more. Enjoy the concert from a reserved table and bring your own spread. A cash bar will be available and the dance floor will be open!

Individual tickets are $30. More information here.


Strauss Theatre presents Smoke on the Mountain

smoke on the mountainGive your special someone tickets to the theatre for Valentine’s Day. This February, Strauss Theatre will show Smoke on the Mountain, a musical comedy featuring nearly two dozen bluegrass songs. Sponsored by the Arts Council of Northeast Louisiana, laugh your way through date night at Smoke on the Mountain.

Choose the date night that works best for you; Strauss Theatre will present Smoke on the Mountain on February 16, 17, 18, 21, 23, and 24. Tickets are $30 for adults and $10 for students. More information here.

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Business Boot Camp for Visual Artists

The Ella Project

The Arts Council of Northeast Louisiana invites regional visual artists to a Visual Arts Business Boot Camp on February 24-25. Held by The Ella Project, this program is designed for advancing visual artists of all mediums. This two-day retreat will take visual artists through all aspects of the business of art. Using the combination of presentation and small group work, the boot camp will address:

  • How is art sold? What determines pricing?
  • Promoting yourself and your art
  • Working with galleries, festivals, and commission
  • Copyright and visual arts law
  • Creating an arts business
  • Developing a career plan to succeed

This program is taught by lead instructor Gene Meneray, who has presented this program to over 300 artists across Louisiana, and is a former professor of Arts Administration in the Graduate School at the University of New Orleans. Guest speakers include social media professional Andrew Gaiennie and attorney Mark Davis, who will cover intellectual property.

Classes will take place on February 24 from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. (breakfast and lunch included), and February 25 from 1 – 6 p.m. at the Biedenharn Museum’s educational building. Registration for the weekend is $35 per visual artist. Space is limited to 20 visual artists. Contact Danielle Kelley Tolbird at to reserve your seat.



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2018 Northeast Louisiana Arts Awards nominees announced

2018 Arts Awards nominees

The Arts Council of Northeast Louisiana is proud to announce its nominees for the 33rd annual Northeast Louisiana Arts Awards. Artists, businesses and volunteers were nominated by area arts organizations. The nominees will be judged by a panel of artists and arts organization leaders from outside the region. Winners will be announced at a presentation on March 1.

BART Award

The Business Art (BART) Award was established to recognize the importance of corporate participation in stabilizing and expanding the arts. Nominees are businesses or corporations that have made philanthropic contributions that have significantly impacted the success of the cultural programs of Region 8 arts organizations during the past year. 2018 nominees include:

Evans Oil Company, nominated by the Louisiana Delta Ballet

Over the past three years, Evans Oil has contributed nearly $20,000.00 to Louisiana Delta Ballet. This year alone the company graciously donated $5,000.00 to help fund the ballet’s Christmas production of A Very Merry Oz Christmas. But contributions do not stop with monetary support. The staff of Evans Oil also volunteers for Louisiana Delta Ballet. Volunteers have hosted our guest performers, hosted our cast parties for the past three years, cooked for our guest faculty during our intensive workshop, and decorated the lobby for our Christmas ballet at their expense. This is the perfect example of a corporation forming a relationship with an arts organization and realizing the impact and importance of artistic endeavors in our community.

Flying Tiger Brewery, nominated by the Downtown Arts Alliance

Flying Tiger is listed as a sponsor for the Downtown Gallery Crawl, but staying true to its unique roots and creative initiatives, Flying Tiger does more than just a monetary transaction. The brewery sponsors the Crawl’s “Passport,” which allows Crawlers to visit each gallery on the map, receiving stamps from the locations. Crawlers can either complete the Passport for fun, or they can extend that fun by redeeming it at Flying Tiger for a “Crawler perk.” Additionally, Flying Tiger commissioned local artist and Downtown Arts Alliance original member Jason Byron Nelson for its logo, branding and artwork inside the brewery. Flying Tiger, though young in its days as a business, shows a depth and gravity of commitment to the arts and a wonderful understanding of all the components that make life great in the 318.

Plunk’s Wrecker Service, nominated by the Twin City Ballet

For nearly 20 years, Plunk’s has graciously donated an 18-wheeler truck for transport of stage decorations, costumes and props for the Twin City Ballet’s Christmas performances. Not only does Plunk’s donate this truck for the week, but the business also assists with set-up and tear-down of the production, at no charge. This gracious donation makes the set-up and tear-down so efficient and accommodating to the stage crew, and is one of the most critical components to the viability and success of the Christmas performance. Without community partners like Plunk’s, the ballet would be left to its own devices in such integral matters as the transportation.

Dorothy Bassett Emerging Artist Award

Named for the Arts Council’s first president, the late Dorothy Bassett, the Emerging Artist Award is designed to impact the lives of our next generation of artists who have demonstrated commitment to the arts and desire to pursue a career in their chosen discipline. Created to honor new talent, innovation, and individual expression, the award supports young and emerging northeast Louisiana artists, aged between 17 and 25. A $1,000 cash award will be presented to the recipient to afford an opportunity to further professional training. 2018 nominees include:

Krislynne Flowers, nominated by the Twin City Ballet

Krislynne Flowers

“Dance is a gateway to finding multiple meanings of life. This gateway is not only available for those dancing, but also for the ones watching. Once I realized that I could inspire people through my movement, I decided that I would pursue art as career. I always told myself that if I had a gift that could make a small or huge impact on another’s life, then I would continue to give it. One of the most special highlights of my dance career is the summer I attended Dance Theatre of Harlem’s Summer Intensive. Being surrounded by so many beautiful women and men of color who share the same passion for the arts was truly inspiring and life changing. I found that when I stepped out of my comfort zone, I had no option but to hold on to my true self while also enhancing my quality and abilities as much as possible. This experience showed me that the right atmosphere could inspire and promote growth in one’s life. I am working on building a platform and creating a fitting brand in order to reach a few goals I have set. One goal is to put out more filmed choreography for the public to witness and enjoy. In the next five years I will have graduated college with a degree in kinesiology and moved to an area where I’ll be able to continue to study the art of dance professionally. Wherever life takes me, I will make sure that within me is growth and that my artistry will continue to blossom.” -Krislynne Flowers

Taylor Smith, nominated by the Louisiana Delta Ballet

Taylor Smith“While at Northwestern State University, Taylor not only excelled as a solo dancer but also a choreographer during his undergraduate studies. Additionally, he was booked around the state with professional dance companies and began getting national exposure at Cedar Point (first a dancer and rehired to be assistant choreographer). He is currently in rehearsals in New York City for his first professional job with RWS Entertainment Group and Norwegian Cruise Lines. In addition to dancing, he was active in musicals as a singing actor. He regularly took voice lessons to allow himself to participate in musicals. This level of initiative is typical of Taylor. He has an outstanding work ethic and I constantly look for opportunities to get him hired and look forward to working with him in the future. Taylor uses dance to express what words cannot convey. Although a bit reserved in person, the moment he takes the stage, his body becomes his instrument and he uses it to communicate. He’s respected and driven and one I know will go far.” -Corey Trahan



Accie Sullivan, nominated by the Downtown Arts Alliance

“I’ve been in love with video games since I was a child. A rough family situation left me with a need to escape and the worlds build for people like myself gave me that escape, however small. The creative minds that constructed those fantastic worlds inspired me to pursue art so that maybe, I too can create fantastical universes for those of us who need respite from reality. I will be applying to several grad school programs to continue my education and hone my skills as an artist. I hope to attend a three-year program to allow for as much networking within the art community as possible before I fully surrender myself to the highly competitive world of art. I will pursue a career as a concept artist for the gaming and cinema industries so that I may help fabricate the worlds that provided me with the sense of safety that I desperately needed. My follow up goal once I’ve achieved my dream is teaching others to build their own universes as an art teacher so that they too can translate their minds contents into a language others can comprehend and enjoy.” – Accie Sullivan

Volunteer of the Year Award

The Volunteer of the Year Award was established to recognize individual personal involvement in the development of the cultural arts in Region 8. Nominees should hold leadership positions or share a particular expertise that substantially impacts an arts organization’s contributions to the quality of the cultural life in the parish in which they are domiciled during the past year. 2018 nominees include:

Jen Brister, nominated by the Downtown Arts Alliance

Although she’s been a Downtown Gallery Crawler for years, Jen joined the board just this last season to create a group of “friends” for the Crawl called “Crawl Companions.” To become a Crawl Companion, we’ve enlisted a monthly-giving system that manages called “Patreon.”  This model will allow The Downtown Arts Alliance to become more sustainable in the future, in addition to creating advocates for the Crawl and the creative community. Jen is enthusiastic, kind and always supportive of the entire board and its activities and projects. She is the gracious host of an information tent for each of the events, answering questions and helping to guide new and old Crawlers alike and explains “How to Crawl”and how to be a friend of the Downtown Arts Alliance. Her contributions to the Crawl actually underscore the viability of the Downtown Arts Alliance for years to come, as awareness and monetary support are always the two biggest factors in any cultural event’s success.

Marilyn Koepke, nominated by the Monroe Symphony Orchestra

Mrs. Koepke has invested her time, talent and treasures in making sure the northeast Louisiana community has had the privilege of enjoying live symphonic music through the Monroe Symphony Orchestra for over 10 years. She served on the board from 2007-2013 and as president from 2009-2011. She was instrumental in establishing the fundraisers Art with a View, Jazz’n on the Vine at Landry’s vineyard and numerous other fundraising events. She established a long-range plan for leadership in the board and community supporting the Monroe Symphony Orchestra. The organization continues to enjoy her service as a volunteer and as a substantial financial donor Mrs. Koepke almost single handedly pulled the initial sponsors together for the beginning of this season, in addition to making sure our concert program and ads were put together correctly, she has offered her home to house musicians for many years.

Bobbye Legan, nominated by the Monroe Symphony League

Mrs. Legan has been a member of the League for 11 years. She currently serves as a vice president of the Board of Directors, is chairperson of both the Entertainment and the Book Room committees and sits on three others: Nominating, Membership, and Buildings and Grounds. Her biggest contribution lies in her work on the Book Room committee. For the past six years, Mrs. Legan has capably supervised the League’s book room. She donates approximately 8 hours per week, or over 400 annual hours of volunteer work and does the following: coordinates three annual book fairs which are a major source of consistent funding benefiting the Orchestra; directs approximately 35 other volunteers as they receive, catalog, price, and sell books. By her use of wise and conservative financial maneuvers, she has formulated various methods to increase the amount of money the book room can donate. Recently through her resourceful thinking, she reduced a $900 per year phone bill to $180 through the use of a cheaper service provider and phone cards. She prepares food for the volunteers weekly and oversees the provision of lunches for them during fairs. She has utilized internet sources to sell the more valuable books at far greater prices than could be commanded at the book fairs. Through her remarkable guidance the League has donated in excess of $110,000 to the Symphony during her tenure. This greatly impacts the orchestra, as the money is used to pay a conductor, the musicians, venue rental expenses, the purchase of musical scores, etc. This in turn results in beautiful musical evenings for our citizens, musical educational experiences for children, and opportunity for emerging artists.

Lacy Miletello, nominated by the Louisiana Delta Ballet

Lacy has served on the Board of Directors for Louisiana Delta Ballet for almost two years. Sometimes new board members are hesitant to jump right in the action. Lacy is not one of those people. Her accomplishments are outstanding for the amount of time she has served as a board member. Her primary focus has been cash and in-kind sponsorships for the Company. She has obtained $20,000.00 in cash and in-kind sponsorships for the 2017-2018 season. She has also served on the committee for the ballet’s annual fundraiser Dancing With The LA Stars, where she has obtained and secured 16 contestants and numerous table sponsors.

Celeste Shivers, nominated by The Princess Theatre

Since joining the Princess Theatre Board of Directors, Celeste immediately became involved with as many programs and events as her busy schedule allowed. Even before she was officially on the Board, she met with our financial committee and devised a budget that would help the Princess get through a trying financial time while the theatre was closed for over a year due to repairs. During this past year, as the theatre was challenged to fundraise, Celeste created a local “Lip Sync Battle”competition featuring local celebrities. That event was wildly popular and a huge success financially. She also helped to facilitate the theatre-sponsored golf tournament, which also generated additional income. This past season, Celeste has even tried her hand at directing in producing the youth summer musical and Christmas show. She is fully engaged with everything she does and her passion for the art is evident through her work.

Darris Waren, nominated by the Twin City Ballet

Darris serves the Twin City Ballet in many different ways. Firstly, he heads up the production crew. He gathers and transports enormous set pieces, racks of costumes, and loads of props for each of the ballets. Darris gathers and lays out the ballet’s Marley flooring. For the spring production, Ballet Under the Stars, as well as the annual Christmas production, Darris loads, unloads and assembles countless pieces of plywood. What looks to a passerby as a confusing myriad of materials, Darris turns into sturdy platforms that lends the visual attribute of height and layers to a performance. It is incredibly laborious work, but for Darris it is a labor of love. He has, through the years, recruited a crew of around 10 guys that help with each project, thereby ensuring future generations of Twin City Ballet dancers will have the same support we enjoy now.

Edmund Williamson Artist of the Year Award

Named for the late Edmund Williamson, the Artist of the Year Award was established to acknowledge the invaluable contributions of individual artists and performing ensembles to the quality of life in northeast Louisiana. Nominees should be artists/ensembles who have shown excellence in their discipline and have enriched the arts community through their art form during their career with special emphasis on activities occurring during the past year.

EmJ Cruz & Ali Hijazi, nominated by the Downtown Arts Alliance

EmJ & Ali

EmJ Cruz and Ali Hijazi are a pair of local artists who aside from being in a relationship for the past five years, have been creating collaborative work for almost as long. Cruz and Hijazi have been together since 2012 and began collaborating on making artwork together in late 2013. The couple add different skills to their works from their various backgrounds with woodworking, linoblock prints, gouache painting, oil painting, vinyl cutting, sculpture, stencil making, aerosols, and photography. Their current installation at the Monroe Regional Airport is the biggest project the pair has taken on, with the final product to consist of a full panorama around the upper windows of the airport’s boarding pass terminal. This project, which is expected to be completed by February 2018, highlights the pair’s shared passion of forward thinking, technological progress and the advancement of Monroe.

Dr. Scot Humes, nominated by the Monroe Symphony Orchestra

As a tenured Associate Professor of Clarinet and Saxophone at the University of Louisiana Monroe, Dr. Scot Humes has impacted the lives of hundreds of music students in this area by his teaching in both the classroom and on the stage. The courses he teaches contain materials for students to thrive in their musical lifestyle as he trains their ear in Aural Skills and Form & Analysis. He trains them to hear the notes on the page and to feel the notes in their hearts, leading them to realize music connects us all if we only listen. As a performer, Dr. Humes has served as the principal clarinetist of the Monroe Symphony Orchestra for over ten years. In the spring of 2017 the Symphony featured him as soloist on C. M. von Weber’s Clarinet Concerto No. 2 in Eb Major, op. 74. Without Dr. Humes’s talent, our community would miss out on the opportunity to hear his unique and world-class playing as it bolsters the sound of a full symphonic orchestra. The level of culture he provides to our area does not stop there. In addition to performing with the Shreveport Symphony and the South Arkansas Symphony, he is an active performer and a board member with the New Music on the Bayou Festival which made its premier last year. His contributions to this festival helped connect our community with composers from all over the world who were visiting our area and who saw first hand what a wealth of talent resides here. As a contributor to our community, Dr. Humes fills his time by sharing not only his musical gifts, but his gifts of service as well. He is the Founder and Director of the Northeast Louisiana Clarinet Choir. Dr. Humes is also a long-time coordinator of the Marjorie Stricklin Emerging Artist Competition held each January. He has many beloved followers in his church choirs which he conducts each week. Currently, he is the Music Director at First United Methodist Church in Bastrop and Christ Episcopal Church in Bastrop. Through the power of music, one can see and feel the dynamic impact Dr. Scot Humes has on the artistic effect of our community. One can see the faces of the people whose lives are instantly touched from the sounds of his playing. And, the feeling of his impact, like music, cannot always be put into words.

Gretchen Jones, nominated by the Twin City Ballet

Gretchen Jones can be seen just about anywhere on the dance scene in northeast Louisiana. She serves the Twin City Ballet Company as Associate Artistic Director and teaches at Linda Lavender School of Dance. In addition to this teaching post, Gretchen is on dance faculty at the University of Louisiana at Monroe specializing in jazz and tap. She also is co-owner of a private dance studio, LGDance Studio in Ruston. Gretchen’s extensive studies in the biological sciences make her a unique teacher in the area. Her training and knowledge in anatomy, physiology and kinesiology enable Gretchen to articulate to dancers how to approach a skill in order to work the body in the most efficient and safe way, all while integrating artistic integrity into the movement. She is able to articulate in a clear and scientific way the “why” of the skills particular to dance. As Associate Director of Twin City Ballet, Gretchen is an integral part of each performance presented by the regional ballet company. Twin City Ballet presents, in one season’s time, more than 10 performances for school children, 2 mixed repertoire concerts, specialty events and regional performances for the Southwest Chapter of Regional Dance America, as well as hosting a 10-day Summer Intensive for area dancers. Gretchen plays a crucial role in each of these events. Whether it be directing, rehearsing, coordinating venues and dates, or acting as a stagehand moving sets and props,she is busily working to ensure high quality, pleasing performances and experiences for all.

Michael Levine, nominated by the Louisiana Delta Ballet

Michael resides in Sacramento, CA, but has spent five to six weeks per year in Monroe since 2010. He has served as an excellent pas de deux coach for the dancers while performing in all of the Louisiana Delta productions over the past eight years. In addition, he participated in the ballet’s annual fundraiser Dancing with the LA Stars for three consecutive years. Michael has also been a member of the guest faculty for the ballet’s summer intensive workshop for eight years, teaching master classes in ballet and pas de deaux. He also performed with Louisiana Delta Ballet in Montreal, Canada in 2012 during the National Regional Dance America festival. In addition to all of that, Michael is now serving as a resident choreographer for Louisiana Delta Ballet and just completed an original work that will debut on Feburary 3, 2018, at the Regional Dance America Southwest annual festival adjudication performance. Needless to say, Michael has become an incredible asset to Louisiana Delta Ballet.