The authenticity and cultural vibrancy of Shreveport Common is steadily moving from a vision to reality!
Creative Placemaking is the planning vehicle incorporated by the management team for Shreveport Common. Creative Placemaking is centered on placing artists at the helm of creating a community incorporating visual, literary, performing, native, cultural, and culinary arts to transition oft-neglected areas into vibrant neighborhoods built on authenticity, creativity, sustainability and collaboration. Collaboration defines how organizations with separate and distinct missions work together on a joint project so that the community receives the benefit of an entirely new creation. The collaborating organizations do not change their mission—collaboration is not compromise—instead each participant contributes their best resources to integrate them into the new joint creation.
Such is the experience of the Big Scene, which took place Saturday, April 12 from 11 am to 9 pm. Three separate organizations with distinctively different missions brought their programming resources together to create a big event that spanned four blocks along Texas Avenue in Shreveport Common. The Texas Avenue Makers Fair, Holiday In Dixie Parade, and UNSCENE! came together to “shed light” on the newly renovated Municipal Auditorium and the soon be completed Grand Promenade on Elvis Presley Avenue in Shreveport Common, downtown Shreveport. Thousands of people came to engage the Big Scene on this gorgeous– windy –April day. They shopped, purchased, ate, danced, listened, visited, and shared common experiences along Texas Avenue.
Texas Avenue Makers Fair is conceived, directed, structured, organized and supported by the Texas Avenue Community Association. A lot of the event was “new” as the mission of the Makers Fair included the promotion of area makers and the promotion of Texas Avenue. All planning and all decisions, as well as all recruitment of vendors and volunteers—right down to the marking of the booth spaces—were planned, communicated, and implemented by TACA leadership: Monty Walford, Dan Keele, and Kelly McSwain.
The Holiday in Dixie Parade is a 65-year tradition in downtown Shreveport. The parade follows the route from the Municipal Auditorium through downtown and back historically. The Parade is always scheduled immediately following the Cotillion and dates are set years in advance. Brian Flournoy and Madge Davis did a yeoman’s job of organizing the floats and marching bands.
The UNSCENE! event is the newest program on the block and is developed by the Shreveport Regional Arts Council through an Artistic Management team spearheaded by Brandon Oldenburg, who serves as Artistic Director. All of the entertainment for the day comprised the UNSCENE! aspect of the Big Scene: three stages throughout the day and the headliner, Theresa Andersson’s presentation with Luther Cox and the Inter City Row Modern Dance Company, Sereca Henderson and the Musicology International Choir, and Joe Bluhm, Digital Artist. Plus, UNSCENE! debuted the three Shipping Container Galleries.
The City of Shreveport’s department of Public Assembly and Recreation (SPAR) under the direction of Shelly Ragle, Ronnie Hammond and Catherine Kennedy facilitated the needs of each organization and encouraged the “merger” of joint needs such as security, tents, tables, chairs, and trash removal.
The experience proved an unforgettable event in Shreveport Common, one that seems to be just a “beginning.” When we consider the remarkable bi-annual Aseana Gardens Festival, the concerts offered by organizations and churches like Holy Cross, the programming of swampland, inc. / minicine, the Public Art installations created by area artists, and the brand new Municipal Auditorium renovation with dynamic featured entertainment like Jack White (coming Monday, June 2), the authenticity and cultural vibrancy of Shreveport Common is steadily moving from a vision to reality!
Pam Atchison is the Executive Director of the Shreveport Regional Arts Council (SRAC) and considers herself an “Arts Warrioress” having fought valiantly for community Arts development for more than 30 years. Current endeavors include the management of a creative-placemaking effort that places Artists at the helm of generating vibrancy in the newest “old” Cultural District in downtown Shreveport through the revitalization of the nine-block area known as Shreveport Common.