Shreveport Common gets boost with grant for theatrical production, artist's housing study

Nov 13, 2015

A public-private redevelopment project targeting nine blocks of downtown Shreveport moved ahead Thursday with a new grant to support a theatrical production and a feasibility study for artist housing in Shreveport Common.

Educational Foundation of America's David Stocks talks about the Nick Cave bead blankets in backdrop with colleague Heidi Ettinger.
Credit Kate Archer Kent

New York-based Educational Foundation of America awarded $190,000 to the Shreveport Regional Arts Council. It’s the EFA’s third grant in recent years.

The goal of the $100 million Shreveport Common project is to turn a blighted area into a thriving, arts-driven economy. At a press conference, the EFA’s arts program officer David Stocks praised Shreveport for its vision.

“It’s so multifaceted. It’s bricks and mortar. It’s programming. I think the Shreveport Regional Arts Council is going beyond that to create a holistic system for artists to impact the community and for the community to support the artists. That’s very, very special here,” Stocks said.

The $40,000 feasibility study for artist housing will be carried out by Minneapolis-based property development nonprofit Artspace Inc. Shreveport Regional Arts Council executive director Pam Atchison says Artspace will figure out what local artists need to live and create their art in affordable homes.

“It’s the study that brings the customers to the developer, quite frankly, so the developer doesn’t take the risk that if they build it there will not be artists to support it,” Atchison said.

The study begins in March 2016 and wraps up in August. Atchison is eyeing two prospects for a 50-unit artist live/workspace: redeveloping the former 1915 Arlington Hotel or building ground up in Shreveport Common.

The bulk of the grant, $150,000, will go toward the “As Is” production led by renowned Soundsuit artist Nick Cave.

During Cave’s eight-month residency in Shreveport, he’s curating a production with more than 75 area artists who are being paid for their contribution.

The EFA’s arts committee chairwoman Heidi Ettinger is keenly interested in Shreveport’s creative class.

“The clarity of the vision is amazing. I feel that this is a group of people who really understand what they’re doing. They’re really devoted to the concept of embracing the whole community in their work,” Ettinger said.

The Texas Avenue Makers Fair will feature a Nick Cave bead-a-thon Saturday, Nov. 14, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The EFA this month awarded a $250,000 grant to develop an artist loft project in Memphis, Tenn., under the direction of Artspace Minneapolis.