Louisiana Arts Summit brings together creative professionals and business leaders for July 15-16 session

Xavier Cortada (left), provided by The Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge, and Randy Cohen (right) captured by Sam Kittner. 

What started three years ago as a small gathering hosted by the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge has morphed into a statewide summit for the arts that keeps getting bigger each year.

This year’s Louisiana Arts Summit opens July 15, and a 6 p.m. reception will feature international environmental artist Xavier Cortada and a welcome by Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser at the Capitol Park Museum, 660 N. 4th St.

Other events in the two-day summit have been divided between the East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, 7711 Goodwood Blvd., and BREC’s Botanical Gardens, 7950 Independence Blvd. The conference brings together creative professionals from across Louisiana, including artists, innovators, advocates and business leaders, who will convene for discussion and planning on the development of the area’s creative sector.

“But you don’t have to be an artist or business leader to attend the conference,” said Monica Pearce, the arts council’s director of grants management and special projects. “Anyone can register and participate, and you can attend one or both days.”

The summit and themes are different each year, Pearce said.

“Economic development, equity, diversity, accessibility and community engagement are foundational topics for this year’s summit,” said Renee Chatelain, the arts council’s president and CEO. “Art organizations and individual artists throughout Louisiana will have a platform to share ideas with representatives from business, education and government sectors and gather tools for success.”

Monday’s lineup includes a full day of workshops, panel discussions and interactive sessions that include Regional Arts Council directors from around the state, along with local business and community experts. Sessions are divided into two tracks for individual artists/makers and nonprofit arts administrators, though anyone can attend.

“This year, we’ve added live performances throughout the summit by artists from around the state,” Pearce said. “This will give those attending the session a break.”

Monday ends at the Capitol Park Museum, where Cortada, an environmental and social activist, will speak.

Cortada is known for combining science and art, creating a socially conscious discourse that brings awareness to environmental concerns. His work is featured in the collections of the Perez Art Museum Miami; the NSU Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Washington; and the Patricia and Philip Frost Art Museum in Miami.

He also addresses peace, child welfare, AIDS awareness and juvenile justice.

On Tuesday, first lady Donna Edwards will give the welcome address, followed by a series of panels, presentations and continued performances.

Among the panelists and performers will be Christian Davenport, Baton Rouge’s poet laureate, and the Louisiana Partnership for the Arts, an organization which promotes and provides networking opportunities for Louisiana’s arts culture.

Randy Cohen, vice president of research and policy at Americans for the Arts, will speak at Tuesday’s luncheon. American for the Arts is one of the nation’s leading arts advocacy organizations. Cohen regularly appears in the New York Times and on NPR, C-SPAN and CNN. 

Registration is $40 per day or $65 for both days at artsbr.org/louisiana-arts-summit-1. East Baton Rouge Parish School System teachers can earn up to two continuing learning unit credits for each session they attend.