The North Central Louisiana Arts Council, believing that the visual, performing and literary arts are a necessary enhancement for all individuals, seeks to enrich the region by fostering opportunities for creative expression; to establish a strong presence of the arts wherein the artists, arts organizations and community can thrive; and to share our diverse cultural heritage, celebrating not just who we are, but what we can become. The North Central Louisiana Arts Council serves the five parishes of Lincoln, Bienville, Claiborne, Jackson, and Union.
The North Central Louisiana Arts Council was formed by a group of artists and arts-enthusiasts in 1987 with the goal of developing a regional arts center and a gallery where local artists could display and sale their work. Ruston local Carol Hudson offered the her family’s historic Harris Hotel building as a site for the center and gallery, and the group wrote and won a Louisiana Crafts Program grant for $2500 that provided them with the funds to open the first Piney Hills Gallery on January 27, 1989. The largely volunteer-made and run Gallery was the first of its type in north Louisiana, and served as a model for other galleries in Shreveport and Monroe.
In 1990 NCLAC’s Board President Susan Roach wrote and won a three-year $60,000 Rural Arts Initiative grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, making it possible to hire their first full time Executive Director, Scott Hutcheson. Hutcheson helped NCLAC form its first Summer Arts Camps, then called Summer Arts Chautauqua, and orchestrate the Piney Hills Kites and Art Festival, held from 1989-91, Celebrity Paint-Offs, and a New Year’s Eve Gala.
NCLAC’s second Ex. Director, Mary Anne Lewis, helped NCLAC create Drama Warehouse, the Artists Studio Tour, known today as the Holiday Arts Tour, and a performances series that brought artists like Grammy nominated jazz vocalist Nnenna Freelon to Ruston. Lewis also won a Meet the Composer grant that brought New York composer Mikel Rouse to Ruston as an artist-in-residence for three years. In 1994 NCLAC also had the honor of serving as the state-appointed distributing agent for State Decentralized Arts Funding grants, which allowed the organization to distribute monies to other deserving arts non-profits and projects in the region.
In 1998, in its continuing search for a location to maintain a regional arts center, NCLAC partnered with the newly formed non-profit Dixie Center for the Arts to acquire and restore Ruston’s historic Dixie Theater, where NCLAC‘s office and Gallery currently reside today.
In 2009 NCLAC found itself in need of reevaluating its programming to deal with the economic slump and the subsequent loss of state grant funding. Ex. and Associate Directors Leigh Anne Chambers and April Honaker helped the Board restructure NCLAC’s spending habits and programming, setting the example for NCLAC’s current operational guidelines.
NCLAC continues today to operate with the other arts-non-profits located in the Dixie Center with the goal of championing the arts in north central Louisiana.
NCLAC is supported by its Members, and a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation & Tourism, in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council, and administered by Shreveport Regional Arts Council. Funding has also been provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.