Saturday, June 28, 2014

Shreveport Regional Arts Council in the Times: division in the arts community not the picture I intended to sketch

A recent Times article in which my remarks were used in conjuring a serious division in the arts community ("When it comes to SRAC, some local artists feel disconnected") and the shortcomings of Shreveport Regional Arts Council was unfair to me and to SRAC.

Not on view in the article was my detailed and extensive remarks about the ways in which my artistic growth and the artistic health of Shreveport has been vigorously aided by the sustained work at SRAC.

From Artspace to Central Fire Station to Shreveport Common, SRAC has galvanized the arts in Shreveport in the most positive fashion. I wish my remarks saluting SRAC for building a nurturing environment for the arts had been emphasized. My growth as an artist who has been steadily and positively aided by grants and commissions from SRAC was given brief mention. Yet I offered the details of as an example of the positive nature of SRAC's role in the community.

Emerging artists and disadvantaged residents in neglected downtown Shreveport are part of the focus of the recent renovation of Central Artspace. In my remarks I honored SRAC for thoughtfully expanding its community scope as well as for expanding its overall services for artists.

In regards the artists for whom SRAC is not a fit and those who have enjoyed the benefits of SRAC and moved on to other artistic areas, I was quoted in such a way as to emphasize the separation. In truth, I believe that SRAC serves and engages the vanguard of artists in the region. Truly, I think the group of artists not taking advantage of SRAC's offers of exhibit and grant opportunities is not a numerous group. I am quoted as saying it is a huge community. If I uttered the word "huge," it was a significant mistake on my part. I certainly do not "recognize (a) gulf" between artists and SRAC.

In the Shreveport Common urban renovation project SRAC has offered even more opportunities. If this article implied negativity on my part, let me say that I saluted Shreveport Common as among SRAC's many successes. Artists heretofore little engaged with SRAC have been given a wide choice of opportunities to work and be paid to develop events in Shreveport Common.

The negative remarks of Debbie Hollis toward SRAC may have been seen by some readers as thoughts with which I agree. That is not at all the case. I lament in the strongest way her vituperation against SRAC and Pam Atchison.

My thoughts about SRAC holding back from supporting edgy art was a mistake on my part. By many in the community, SRAC has won points for bravery by presenting major exhibits on graffiti, skateboarding and tattoos, among several shows on issues that can be called provocative.

Communication by SRAC, I should have said, is a problem that is being steadily addressed by Atchison and her staff. The recent Food-Art-Film UnScene, a first-of-its-kind event which emphasized local food growers as well as chefs and artists, packed the floor of the Municipal Auditorium. And, in terms of artist communication, two artist gatherings have been held by SRAC to make sure that the connection between UnScene managers and artists was functioning well.

The article seemed to shed doubt on whether SRAC capably serves the arts community. That is unfair. And I regret giving my remarks to a reporter whose article seemed to me to strive to cast doubt on SRAC's value.

My overwhelmingly positive feeling about SRAC was not to be found in this article. The remarks that I naively offered in terms of balance were highlighted. And, somehow, the sum of the story was negative. Yet, as you can see from my description above, the SRAC story is a Shreveport-at-its-best story.

1 comment:

Mike Sledge said...

Robert, your words and meaning are clear to me. This is a great elaboration that really shouldn't be needed, but which I glad you penned.
Mike Sledge