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30th Annual Northeast LA Arts Council Awards

By Melanie Moffett
In Bayou Scene
Feb 25th, 2015

The stars aligned for a perfect night, congratulating arts organizations nominees for volunteer, artist and business supporter of the year, as well as a new category honoring young, emerging artists newly making their mark on the arts scene in Northeast Louisiana. Arts enthusiasts gathered at the Vantage Ballroom in downtown Monroe for the awards presentation and were treated to exuberant musical performances by Dr. Corey Trahan and a quartet of his NSU Vocal Performance students, ULM School of Visual and Performing Arts students, as well as a command performance of Les Miserable’s “One Day More” led by standout vocalist Russ Givens.

Accompanying the artists was virtuoso pianist Julian Jones. A hilarious Corey Trahan, with the impeccable timing of a stand-up comic, emceed the event and kept the audience in stitches, recounting anecdotes about Arts Council CEO Tommy Usrey. The star-studded event was co-chaired by long-time Arts Council volunteers Cathy Myrick, Leigh Ann Goff and Rhonda Neal. Stained glass artist Bruce Fleming created the Artist and Emerging Artist sculptural trophies. Audie Maxey was responsible for creating the Volunteer of the Year carved wooden bowl. The BART Award trophy was hand thrown pottery by Dr. Gary Ratcliff of ULM. Helping to present the awards, which were juried by Arts Councils south of Alexandria, were Regina Wood, chair of the Arts Council Board of Directors; Patti Nelson, who serves on the State Arts Council; and Michael Echols, Chairman of the State Arts Council. The BART Award, which was established in 1985, was presented to Kiper Hardware of Winnsboro. Also nominated were previous winner CenturyLink and Music City Studios. The Edmund Williamson Artist of the Year was awarded to Dr. Doerle Long of ULM’s School of Visual and Performing Arts. Other nominees included Shawnee Chason, Jenny Ellerbe, Chris Kidd, Donna McGee and Brenda Rowan. The event-goers witnessed a special treat when volunteer and fundraiser extraordinaire Margaret Lauve was awarded the Mary Lee Milam Service Award by Usrey for developing Blend of the Bayou and being instrumental in its continued success for over 19 years. The largest category of the night went to the volunteers who give so much of their time and talents to their nominating arts organization. George Prince, last year’s winner, presented Kim Leija with the 2015 award. Also nominated were Mark Allen Dooley and Lisa Patterson, Mike Gibbens, Charles Jackson, Anu Lal, Kathy Lenard, Sherry Randall and Breanna Young. One of the night’s most exciting moments came with the announcement of the Emerging Artist Award. Luke Matherne was presented the stained glass sculpture and a $500 cash award when he became the inaugural recipient of the award. Other nominees included Sarah Cady, Daniel Addison, McKenna Rae Giovingo, William Holly and Victoria Smith.