For nearly five months following the Great Flood, the Arts Council of Livingston Parish building downtown was transformed primarily into the disaster offices of the Small Business Administration, but 2017 is a new beginning for the group.

A new exhibit has been hung, “A Celebration of Art,” meetings will resume as normal and the council’s art education in the schools program is coming back, said Arts Council Board of Directors President Mary Felder.

“The flood did not affect our building but the majority of our juried artists were affected and 11 of our 14 board members were as well so we were incapacitated,” she said. “We were unable to deal with any of this with our homes flooded.”

“The ones who didn’t flood were taking other people in so we really were unable to do anything,” Felder said.

With so many of the people involved in the arts organization affected by the flood, operations all but ceased. No meetings were held, no exhibitions were on display and little happened at the office except the council’s secretary would stop by the office from time to time to check emails and phone messages and return whatever correspondence was needed.

Now that conditions have returned to closer to normal, the Arts Council will return to its regular schedule, which includes a new exhibit every month and free adult and children’s classes will begin being held again.

“In fact, we have a children’s class coming up this month as soon as I can get it scheduled,” Felder said. “My plan is to have a class for adults and a children’s class every month.”

In addition to its exhibits and educational programs, the Arts Council is involved in numerous community events, like Spring Fest, the Denham Springs Fourth of July Celebration, Fall Fest, Cajun Christmas and this year, the organization will be the organizer of Art on Mattie Street.

“Our main mission is to support artists, to give them a venue for their art, give them an opportunity to connect with other artists and network,” Felder said.

The Arts Council was in the process of a series of classes teaching artists how to set up shop on Facebook before the flood and “it was so popular, we’ll do a repeat of that, probably as our first classes when we get back on schedule with them,” she said.

“We try to have classes or sessions that will benefit the artists and to help them get their work out,” Felder continued.

The new year will see the Arts Council return to its schedule of membership meetings with a different speaker at each one, art camps in the parish’s elementary schools and in the summer for children at the Arts Council, the results of which impress the council’s board president.

“…I get to go see the performance at the end of their classes and I’m always just astounded at what they can do and what they’ve learned,” Felder said.

Located at 133 Hummell Street in downtown Denham Springs just a block east of the Antique District, the current show can be seen now. It includes not only oil and watercolor paintings, but photography and fiber arts as well.

“We call it ‘A Celebration of Art’ because we’re starting over and I’m excited about it,” Felder said.

The Arts Council can also be contacted by calling (225) 664-1168 or via email, artscouncilofliv@bellsouth.net.

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