Governing an all-volunteer arts organization with a shrinking budget and massive cuts has sent Cultural Crossroads' board of directors in another direction.
And their new direction couldn't come soon enough, according to Chris Broussard, Chairman of the Board.
The organization had been the recipient of the lion's share of Louisiana Decentralized Arts Funding for the past 18 years.
"News of our failed request for arts funding for the 19th annual Spring Arts Festival came as a shock," Broussard said. "We saw our funding shrink from $10,000 annually to $3,000 last year and now zero."
And tough times call for tough measures.
"It's tough to take but we were prepared," Broussard said. "As a result, our three-day festival has been cut to one day. But we'll make it a great day, for sure."
The parish's official arts agency will celebrate its 20th anniversary this September. And while revenue streams are drying up, the group is optimistic about their future.
Part of the reason for their optimism is the recent construction of a 900 square foot art studio, expected to open in October.
Zenobia's House, named after the co-founder and beneficiary of the Farm property, the studio will open the door to more earned income opportunities.
The total cost of the construction was paid for by a grant from the Beaird Foundation of Shreveport and an anonymous donor also from Shreveport.
"We are so grateful to them for recognizing our work in the community and giving us a much-needed shot in the arm," Broussard said.
While the organization made the decision to cancel this year's Pearl Fest and Moon Over Minden because of budget constraints, they will announce the addition of several new programs expected to begin this fall.
The board of directors is hopeful that the income generated by these new projects will allow them to reinstate Pearl Fest and Moon Over Minden in 2013.
"Wee Artists" painting parties for kids and "Blend & Mix" painting parties for adults will be offered in the new studio at the Farm.
"Painting Parties are extremely popular right now and we would like to capitalize on that creative energy and offer up our studio and professional art instructors," Broussard said.
Cost of a paint party for children is $25 per child with all supplies and studio space included. Cost of the adult paint party is $30 per adult. There is a minimum of 10 participants needed. Community paint parties may be offered in the near future.
A new venture downtown
"Doodle Bugs" an entrepreneurial enterprise for high school students will also be launched in the coming month. The new business venture will take used and broken furniture and turn it into functional art. The reclaimed, repurposed and up cycled furniture will then be sold to the public with 100 percent of the profits to benefit Cultural Crossroads.
"The pilot program created by Cultural Crossroads will offer volunteer students a chance to be part of a business venture from the ground up," Broussard said. "Their seat on the management team will allow students to learn first-hand what it means to start their own business. They will experience every aspect of creating their own company from writing a business plan to management to product development.
"This unique experience will also allow these students to use their creative minds and artistic hands to create a product line with a special purpose: to support the arts," she continued.
The pilot program was first introduced to Glenbrook students and faculty last month.
"Glenbrook students gave the Farm more than 200 volunteer community service hours last year," Broussard said. "While we already have a support system there, it just made sense to begin with them.
"However, we will accept any high school student who wants to offer their time to this project," she continued. "We're asking the public to consider donating their used and broken furniture to support the arts and free enterprise."
Doodle Bugs workshop and showroom will operate out of The Vault at 619 Main Street in downtown Minden.
It is estimated that the introduction of these three programs should provide Cultural Crossroads with the income necessary to support the many events and programs sponsored by the organization.
Cultural Crossroads is an all-volunteer organization with no paid staff.
Cultural Crossroads owns and manages a four-acre estate known as the Moess (pronounced "Mace") Center for the Arts & City Farm. Located at 419 East Union, the property referred to as "The Farm" is host to the parish's annual Spring Arts Festival, Farmers Market, Earth Camp for Kids and a host of community outreach programs.
For more information about Cultural Crossroads, visit their website at www.artsinminden.com or on Facebook.