Places & Faces
Heart of the Arts: How the Arts Benefit a Community
9/1/2019 1:00:00 PM
Heart of the Arts

If industry is the life blood that supports our community, the arts are surely the heart and soul that bestow upon our community a unique and lively beat. As a society, we thrive on the artistic contributions of creative visionaries and grow as a vibrant, exciting place to live and raise our families. Our love for the arts is expressed through people and organizations dedicated to music, theater, dance, and visual arts. These expressions can be found on our many stages, in museums and galleries, and on the walls of public buildings. The benefits to a community that puts a high priority on promoting and supporting the arts range from an increased ability to raise well-rounded children to an improved likelihood of attracting new residents and businesses to our region.

Socially, the arts bring a community together and promote interaction in public spaces. We see this at our many free outdoor concerts, gallery exhibit openings, and festivals. Patrons flock to events planned by organizations committed to bringing art in all its forms to the Lake Area. The arts provide a path for people who would normally never interact to potentially become lifelong friends. In addition, the arts are a great way for individuals to learn about the many different cultures that make up their community, promoting acceptance and diversity.

Individually, the arts benefit people of all ages in different ways. In young children, arts participation promotes social and emotional development. They demonstrate increased social cooperation with other children. Preschool teachers report fewer instances of shy, aggressive, and anxious behaviors among their students who engage in dance and receive musical instruction. In older children, arts activities enhance cognitive abilities and social skills that support learning, such as memory, problem-solving, and communication. In adults, the arts are shown to improve health and quality of life.

Economically, the arts benefit a community by drawing new residents and more tourists to a region which subsequently brings in new businesses. Southwest Louisiana has certainly been witness to this chain of events in recent years.

With all these benefits, and with all the artistic venues open to the people of this region, it’s no wonder Southwest Louisiana is a growing, thriving, desirable place to live.

Arts & Humanities Council of SWLA

The Arts and Humanities Council of Southwest Louisiana serves as a hub for all things related to ART in the five-parish region, both supporting over 60 artists and arts organizations and providing opportunities for the community to enjoy art. More specifically, the Arts Council supports art in the following ways:

They support artists and arts organizations by making four grant programs available: Decentralized Arts Funding Grant, City of Lake Charles Partnership Grant, Calcasieu Parish Police Jury Grant, and the Tourism Marketing Initiative Grant. Since 2005, they have allocated nearly $2 million to SWLA communities and their art initiatives.

They facilitate numerous annual events which boost tourism and economic growth within our region; Poetry Out Loud, the Live @ the Lakefront Concert Series, Spring Art Walk, Arts and Crabs, Gallery Promenade, Roots Revival, Mayor’s Arts Awards, Arts Fest, and the Holiday Art Market.

They support local artists by providing resources and networking opportunities such as their Regional Arts Network Luncheons and grant workshops open to the public. They publish a monthly e-newsletter called HeARTbeart Weekly and stay active on social media. They also serve as advocates for the arts and artists at the state level.

"For the last 40 years, the Arts Council has played a significant role in shaping Southwest Louisiana’s cultural economy,” says Morgan Turpin, Board President. "From providing resources for artists and art organizations to creating innovative art events, the Arts Council celebrates a thriving creative community in Southwest Louisiana.”

Located at 809 Kirby St., Lake Charles. For more information, visit or call 337-439-2787.


Banners at McNeese is a self-sustaining organization within the University that provides the community with access to exceptional arts and humanities programming, and education through the arts. Their goal is to increase the quality of life in Southwest Louisiana through art and cultural entertainment.

Through their Cultural Season, Banners presents a series of performances each spring featuring a wide array of internationally acclaimed artists and engaging presenters. Cultural Season offerings include live music, readings, dance, illusionists, academic lectures, film screenings, and more.

Their Banners Engages program benefits local students in creative educational programming through arts and humanities performances, including live presentations at no cost to public and parochial schools, appearances at Parish Public Libraries, demonstrations to students of McNeese State University, and events at other community venues. Its objective is to ensure that children develop creativity, innovation, and critical and entrepreneurial thinking. Studies have shown that children involved in the arts are more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, to be elected to class office within their schools, and to win awards for school attendance. Each year, more than 17,000 students reap the benefits of having Banners educational outreach performances as part of their learning environment. With approximately 60 outreach programs annually, Banners at McNeese brings arts and humanities to K-12 schools and homeschool students throughout Calcasieu, Cameron, and Jeff Davis Parishes and the students of McNeese State University.

For more information on Banners or Rouge et Blanc, visit our website at

ACTS Theatre

ACTS Theatre (Artists Civic Theatre and Studio) was established in 1965. Since then, there have been musicals, comedies, dramas, as well as classes and productions for youth. Over the years, the troupe has performed on numerous stages, but One Reid St. has been home since 1982.

Currently, they are gearing up for their 2019-2020 season. They will open with a production of Clue: On Stage!, Oct. 11-27. Based on the cult classic film and iconic board game, you’re likely familiar with the plot. It’s a dark and stormy night, and you’ve been invited to a very unusual dinner party. Each of the guests has an alias, the butler offers a variety of weapons, and the host is, well . . . dead. So whodunnit? Join the familiar oddballs known as Scarlet, Plum, White, Green, Peacock, and Mustard as they race to find the murderer in Boddy Manor before the body count stacks up. Clue is a madcap comedy that will keep you guessing until the final twist. Tickets go on sale Sept. 15. 

Other shows this season include A Christmas Story; Disaster! the Musical; and Once Upon a Mattress.

For more information, visit or call 337-433-2287.

Gallery by the Lake     

Gallery by the Lake began as a small group of artists who met to paint and encourage each other in their craft. In 1984, founder Anne Dentler had a vision for the group to have a dedicated location where artists could share knowledge, experiences, camaraderie, and exhibit their art. They’ve been meeting at 106 W. Pryce St. since 1991. But that will change come January 2020.

The Gallery has announced that they will move to the third floor of Central School early next year as their current building is being sold. "We will have two rooms with one dedicated to studio space for artists and the other for student classroom activities,” says member Ellen Anthony. Their mission is to increase the community’s appreciation and awareness of the value of visual arts.

Currently, the Gallery features the juried art show "Imagine”. Artwork includes oils, acrylics, drawings, and mixed media. Open through Sept. 30. 

Upcoming Events:

Sept. 27, 5:00 p.m., Gallery by the Lake joins the Arts and Humanities Council for the annual Gallery Promenade. Visit them for a reception and member exhibit.

Second Saturdays Arts Experiences – On the second Saturday of each month at 10:00 a.m. the Gallery offers a fun art activity for adults and older teens. Sept. 14, Pop Art Collage; Oct. 12, Fabulous Feathered Friends with Zen Tangles; Nov. 9, Watercolor Christmas Cards.

On Oct. 13, the Gallery and the Gulf Coast Bird Club will host the Reception and Awards presentation for their 2nd annual bird photography show, "Hit Me with Your Best Shot”. 

Located at 106 West Pryce, Lake Charles. For more information or to register for a class, see their website,

The Lake Area Ballet Theatre

The Lake Area Ballet Theatre (LABT) presents its 2019-2020 season. It opens its fifth year with the annual presentation of the beloved holiday classic, "The Nutcracker”. This Nutcracker version follows the tradition of the very first Nutcracker performed by the Lake Charles Ballet Society for Ballet Joyeux in Lake Charles in 1963. "I am so very proud and honored to be able to work with this amazing group of young people who are so very passionate about dance,” says Colleen Cannon Benoit, Artistic Director. "Even with their busy schedules, they make time to train, rehearse and perform year-round.”  

Students of the Lake Charles Dance Academy, ranging from elementary through college, perform alongside local actors and community volunteers to complete a cast of over 100 and wear over 200 professionally made costumes. Troy Gable returns as a performing guest artist. Randy Partin serves as technical director. School shows will be held at the Lake Charles Civic Center Nov. 21 and 22 at 9:00 a.m. and public shows will take place on Nov. 23 at 2:00 and 7:00 p.m.

The "Spring Gala” will be held Sat. March 28th. This mixed repertoire is performed by the over 50 dancers and features the company’s versatility. 

Set in legendary India, "La Bayadère" tells the story of the doomed love between the noble warrior, Solor, and the beautiful temple dancer, Nikiya. 


In "The Point”, Oblio is the only round-headed person in Pointed Village, where everyone and everything must have a point. This fable celebrates diversity and acceptance. 

"Lonlon” is choreographed by University of Oklahoma dance graduate, Alexis Leffel, and is set to "Bolero” by Ravel. 

"Tribute” will be performed to the music of "The Greatest Showman” and is dedicated to Miss Glenda Moss for her lifetime of service to the dance community. 

"Passports 4” is set to original music performed by the McNeese Percussion Ensemble under the direction of Mr. Brian Nozny in collaboration with Dr. Lonny Benoit. The LABT’s "Passports” series began three years ago to showcase the university percussion students.  


For more information, visit

Lake Charles Little Theatre

Lake Charles Little Theatre (LCLT) was established in 1926 by Rosa Hart, Annabel Dees, and other volunteers. The term "little theatre” was given to community groups in the early 1900s to define a movement toward locally produced shows instead of large theatre companies touring around the country.

LCLT President Randy Partin says the theatre company has endured many hardships as a volunteer organization and is again thriving as a leading producer of exceptional stage productions. "The craft of Performing Arts is experiencing a revival throughout our region, state, and nation. Children and Youth theatre has rejuvenated in Lake Charles and LCLT offers an opportunity for those youth to continue pursuing their craft alongside experienced stage veterans, as well as newcomers."

LCLT aspires to bring the community a new Central Performing Arts Venue in the near future. Architectural plans are currently being developed for this venture. The venue would provide local theatre companies and other groups, a "properly constructed” facility where productions can be held year-round without scheduling conflicts. This will enable residents to attend productions in a comfortable environment for many years into the future.

"LCLT has proudly contributed to a better quality of life in SWLA since February 1927 when the first production opened,” says Partin. "Attend a show and be WOWED by the high standards of performance from local talent.”

 Want to get involved? Consider auditioning for a show or volunteering at LCLT. "Acting can elevate self confidence, self esteem, and help create a well-rounded individual!” adds Partin.

LCLT opens its 93rd season on Sept. 13 with "Noises Off!” by Michael Frayn.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit or call 337-433-7988. Located at 813 Enterprise Blvd.

Lake Charles Symphony

From as early as 1938, a number of orchestra organizations came and went in Southwest Louisiana; but in 1958, with support and planning by the Lake Charles Junior Welfare League, as it was called at the time, and Anita Tritico as League President, 70 musicians graced the stage at McNeese State College for the premiere performance of what is now the Lake Charles Symphony Orchestra. 

In the early days, the Lake Charles Symphony supported music education through free youth concerts. Last year, the board of directors successfully encouraged the Calcasieu Parish School Board to add a symphonic strings course at Barbe High School to strengthen and enhance the cultural experiences to be had by local students, as well as prepare students to further symphonic studies at the university level.

The Lake Charles Symphony begins its 62nd season on September 8 and promises an exciting lineup of performances. This season will feature several guest conductors and a variety of events and locations, so there is something for everyone!

Classical Concert #1: Rhapsody in Blue 

Featuring Lina Morita, piano

Conducted by Maestro Chelsea Tipton II

Sunday, Sept. 8 | 3:00 p.m.

McNeese Tritico Theatre

4205 Ryan St., Lake Charles

Winter Pops: A Space Spectacular

Presented by Merchants & Farmers Bank

Conducted by Carl Topilow

Sunday, Nov. 10 | 3:00 p.m.

Lake Charles Civic Center, Rosa Hart Theatre

900 Lakeshore Dr., Lake Charles

Valentine’s Concert

Friday, Feb. 14, 2020 | 6:30 p.m. Dinner (concert follows)

Historic Calcasieu Marine National Bank 

844 Ryan St., Lake Charles

Doors open at 6:00 p.m.

Spring Concert

Saturday, April 18, 2020 | 7:30 p.m.

Lake Charles Civic Center, Rosa Hart Theatre

900 Lakeshore Dr., Lake Charles 

Today, with the strong foundation provided by the Junior League of Lake Charles and the continued support of this community, the Lake Charles Symphony is committed to enhancing the cultural life of Southwest Louisiana through performances of the highest quality. 

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit or call 337-433-1611.

Lake Charles Civic Ballet

Lake Charles Civic Ballet (LCCB) enters its 51st season and celebrates half a century of bringing ballet to the Lake Area. "There are very few local arts organizations that have been around for 50 years, so we are grateful for the support of the community as we continue this legacy,” says Lady Holly Hathaway Kaough, LCCB Artistic Director.

For the holiday season, LCCB will present "Christmas in Louisiana: Once Upon a Time” at the Rosa Hart Theatre. This original production, written by Lady Holly and her mother Lady Leah Lafargue Hathaway, and set against stunning backdrops created by Fred Stark, regales part of the history of Southwest Louisiana, depicting historical events and characters such as Jacob Ryan, Jean LaFitte and Charles Sallier. Celebrate the Christmas season and enjoy this artistic journey through Southwest Louisiana’s past.

Christmas in Louisiana: Once Upon a Time

Matinée Performance

December 14, 2019 at 11:00 am
Gala Performance

December 14, 2019 at 6:00 pm

Next spring, for Assemblé 2020, LCCB will present "The Sleeping Beauty” at the Rosa Hart Theatre. Thirty-six members of the Lake Charles Symphony, conducted by William G. Rose, will perform Tchaikovsky’s amazing score. "There’s a palpable energy when dancers perform to live music, and the audience can feel that excitement,” says Lady Holly. Audience members will be treated to the visual beauty of costumes, elaborate settings, skilled dancers and the dynamic sounds of a live orchestra. Don’t miss this incredible event!

Assemblé 2020, The Sleeping Beauty

Gala Performance

March 21, 2020 at 6:00 pm
Matinée Performance

March 22, 2020 at 3:00 pm

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit

Lutcher Theater


The Francis Ann Lutcher Theater for Performing Arts is a privately owned, 1,450-seat, non-profit performing arts facility in Orange, Texas. It was built in 1980 and is the largest Performing Arts Series from Houston to New Orleans, with annual attendance at approximately 30,000 adults and children. 

Lutcher’s 2019-2020 Season opens Oct. 5 with Croce Plays Croce. Jim Croce’s son A.J. Croce performs a special night of music featuring a complete set of classics by his late father, some of his own tunes, and songs that influenced both him and his father. This nostalgic show features such timeless hits as "Operator,” "You Don’t Mess Around with Jim,” "Time in a Bottle,” (a song written for A.J.), "Rapid Roy (The Stock Car Boy), and "Lovers Cross,” to name a few. Tickets on sale now.

The Lutcher Theater has been active in the Orange and neighboring communities through numerous programs. Each year, the Lutcher Theater participates in food drives, fundraisers and other charitable events. Lutcher Theater Inc. is committed to presenting professional entertainment for the enlightenment and cultural growth of people living in Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana and to better their quality of life and knowledge of the arts and humanities.

Located at 707 Main Ave., Orange, Tx. For more information, a complete list of this season’s shows, or to purchase tickets, visit or call 409-886-5535.

Panorama Music House

First through Rikenjaks on Ryan St. and now at Panorama Music House, musician and businessman Jay Ecker is methodically changing the face of music in Lake Charles and taking it to the next stratosphere. He features local, regional, and touring bands every Tuesday through Sunday evening, expanding our region’s variety of musical genre options. Mondays are Karaoke Night, 9:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m. Tuesdays, you’ll find Live Jazz with the Jay Ecker Quartet, 7:00 – 10:00 p.m. Wednesday is Ladies Night with Pistol Bridge, a cover band with an unlimited repertoire and a knack for granting any song request, 6:00 – 11:00 p.m., followed by DJ HunniDip. Thursdays through Saturdays, you’ll find an array of musicians and bands such as Kris Harper, Zydecane, and Cry Baby. Sundays offer Free Bingo, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m., a Washer Tournament 5:00 – 7:00 p.m., and Open Mic Night with The Good Samaritans, 8:00 – 11:00 p.m. Panorama Music Hall opened this past spring to immediate success that indicates no sign of waning. They offer great food, spirits, and of course, music, with daily drink and food specials, and Happy Hour from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. An outdoor patio and bar with swings, picnic tables, and corn hole, as well as an indoor game room enhance the Panorama experience. Ecker also offers catering and accommodates private parties. The name Panorama comes from the cool vintage sign Ecker repurposed from the old Panorama Burger House.

Posted by: Angie Kay Dilmore | Submit comment | Tell a friend


Share and enjoy:   Google Bookmarks   Reddit   Stumble Upon


© Copyright 2021, Thrive Magazine. All rights reserved.