“The Bossier Arts Council is dedicated to promoting, supporting, and providing cultural events and programming in order to enhance the quality of life and to develop a cultural identity for Bossier Parish.”
The above statement is the very foundation of what the Bossier Arts Council (BAC) builds their programming around. It is our mission statement and like all non-profits, it’s a unique set of guidelines that governs what we do and how we do it. When breaking it down, there are four primary tasks that we work hard each day to accomplish:
- promote the arts in our region
- support those who provide arts activities
- provide artistic experiences
- aide in developing a cultural identity
Henry Harbor contacted us to issue a statement about how we feel about the development of arts and culture in the Bossier-Shreveport area. Our organization would not exist if we weren’t striving to communicate with our community through artistic expression. In our opinion, the arts are about taking risks, and in that spirit, we do not feel that there is one correct way to accomplish that goal, but rather numerous paths to the same end result. The statements below reflect our path and philosophy for accomplishing this goal and were decided upon by our Board of Directors which is made up of a deliberately diverse group of individuals. By no means does it reflect the opinion of one person, rather it reflects a democratic methodology.
It would be impossible with the limitations of word count to accurately describe the variety of programming offered by the Bossier Arts Council, so I urge you to visit our website. I will now proceed to go through the four major points above and share with you the steps we are taking to accomplish these goals. BAC believes that education is fundamental to the success of both individuals and organizations and so our programming revolves around that concept.
BAC is promoting the arts in a variety of ways, but most notably by providing a venue for our regional artists to showcase their work. Currently, BAC manages 9 exhibition spaces for visual artists (3 traditional and 6 non-traditional). Every time we do a show, we promote it to our fullest ability utilizing web, print, and word of mouth. In addition, we host a monthly Speaker Series aimed at engaging writers in our community to share their work in a public platform as well as a quarterly musical presentation for singer songwriters. Artists are selected from our region by an Open Call for Artists. We require the standard submission materials. These requirements help our region’s artist develop a packet that can be utilized throughout their career.
The two biggest forms of support we provide artists is through our Artist One Stop program. Artist One Stop is a multi-tiered initiative. This “heading” covers a variety of individual services including a business resource center, individual advisement, and classes/workshops. We hold two business resource classes per month. On average we spend more than 40 hours a month working one on one with artists. Our computer lab is utilized on average 70 hours a month by artists and arts organizations. The biggest form of “support” we can provide is educating our artists on computer skills, basic business practices, and helping them create tangible goals for their artistic success.
BAC provides over 80 different programs/services in an average year. We accomplish this goal through a variety of avenues and attempt to hit a broad demographic. Some highlights include DigiFest South, Gallery Exhibitions, Lecture Series, Musical Performances, Educational Activities, and more.
Developing a Cultural Identity
We believe that developing a cultural identity means engaging, challenging, and promoting our community artists. We engage our artists as both audience and participants. We challenge them to continue their growth through workshops and by requiring that they develop positive professional habits. This can be met with both frustration and resistance, but we feel strongly that the end result will be positive. In addition, we strive to promote them on a local, regional, and state level. We do this by taking on the challenge of being the ambassadors in the community. All our programming is centered on this last tenant.
Leigh Anne Chambers graduated in 2008 with a Master of Arts in Speech with an emphasis in Arts Administration and holds a Bachelors of Arts in Theatre with a minor in English. In 2012 she was awarded the Outstanding Alumni of the Year by the School of Performing Arts, Department of Theatre at Louisiana Tech University. She serves as a Red River Rotary Member and on the Louisiana Partnership for the Arts Board. Before serving as Executive Director at the Bossier Arts Council (BAC) she was the Executive Director of the North Central Louisiana Arts Council (NCLAC). Her husband, Joshua, and daughter, Sophia, are almost permanent fixtures at the Arts Council and are always willing to lend a hand.