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.
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
“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
“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 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.