Shreveport Regional Arts Council

Funding Received: 2013
Shreveport, LA
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
April 2, 2014

Stan Lewis in Memorabilia Room at artspace

Talk about Authenticity, Creativity, Vibrancy, Diversity, Inclusion, and that mysterious but palpable sense that, indeed, “we are moving forward . . .” It was all manifested in the UNSCENE! “Tribute to Stan—The Record Man—Lewis” on Saturday, March 8 from Noon to Night. Happily, the UNSCENE! management team and Shreveport Regional Arts Council are still floating on a high. On March 8—officially proclaimed as Stan Lewis Day—the community reunited to celebrate the decades of influence that Stan’s Record Store and Jewel/Paula/Ronn Records labels has had on Shreveport and the music world.

UNSCENE! became the ultimate party on the 700 block of Texas St. where Stan’s Record Store once prominently stood. With music by performers including the great gospel and blues singers recorded years ago by Stan such as Bobby Rush, Vickie Baker, Carl Sims, Donnie Ray, Buddy Flett, Betty Lewis & The Executives, Tres BLUEBIRDS, Brady L. Blade, Sr. & The Hallelujah Train, and Ernie Johnson to Northwest Louisiana performers Princess Monro and The Matthew Davidson Band, who created new arrangements of Stan’s hits, the block party was a hit.

Many former performers and fans came out on yet another cold and rainy day to warm up the event, eagerly sharing with friends and strangers their personal memories of Stan. The team of local and regional DJs who promoted Stan’s records and performers on air for more than 50 years sat together—many for the first time in ages—to share their stories. The positive atmosphere was contagious and through the music, art, food, and fellowship, we were all brought closer together. "The old adage that ‘music unites us all’ is true. We aren’t separated by gender, race, sexual orientation, or age," Pam Atchison, Executive Director of the Shreveport Regional Arts Council said.


UNSCENE! audience dancing at the BHP Billiton main stage

Recent Wins
The main theme of this month’s event was bridging the past, present, and future of music in Shreveport Common. History was also tied into the day with a scavenger hunt to landmarks in Shreveport Common produced by local performing artist Luther Cox, Jr. Individuals and families of all generations scoured Shreveport Common following the clues and discovering historical facts.

The Juried Arts Market was beautifully lined with colorful tents with artist entrepreneurs selling their original work. Many artists found themselves selling out of certain items early in the day. Artists also created “CD mobiles” with the audiences, murals, printed T-Shirts, jewelry, and acrylic scenes of historic Texas Avenue along with a phenomenal exhibition that served as a retrospective of Stan’s influence. Customers were seen proudly parading their purchases around for all to see. And, an almost serendipitous moment was achieved when two record stores came to the Market to sell vinyl recordings, creating a flurry of trades and purchases and prompting folks to run home to bring their vintage vinyl down.


UNSCENE! Juried Arts Market

UNSCENE! is becoming more successful each month as the public gains an understanding of the event’s mission and organization. Artists know there are ample opportunities for them to apply their artistry at UNSCENE! and the weeks leading up to the next event through artist residencies, arts markets, performances, and more. Artists and others from the community are beginning to look at Shreveport Common in a new way, seeing more possibilities for creative placemaking as expressed in an article featured in “The Times,” Shreveport’s daily newspaper.

Attending the ArtPlace America Summit just days before the March 8 UNSCENE! event really brought home the importance of each step in the process of creative placemaking. The details do matter, and the attention to authenticity as a vehicle for creativity genuinely played out to our benefit. The Summit also helped us focus on the role of communication in creative placemaking—not just communicating about the field, process, movement, efforts associated with creative placemaking—but ensuring that the community of artists, residents, and visitors are moving forward with us. This has been the greatest challenge of the production of UNSCENE! We’ve done a yeoman’s job of communicating and partnering with each month’s target audience, from young “hipsters” who love the “Skateable Sculpture” and alternative music and diverse “oldsters” who love gospel and blues to the families who love the hands-on art activities, drive-in movie experience, and the MAKERS FAIR. However, we need to develop the Shreveport Common following of people who will come out to UNSCENE! no matter what we are doing, and who will grasp that UNSCENE! is just one of the many strategies in the PORTFOLIO designed to create and sustain vibrancy.

Finally, it seems that it wouldn’t be UNSCENE! unless we had to use our “un”brellas, so it seems. From our previous months of battling Mother Nature, we have learned not to let a little rain dampen our spirits. The UNSCENE! management team followed up with the weather forecasts for weeks leading up to the big day and made the provisions to ensure our audience’s comfort and warmth. We supplied tents for our Juried Arts Market and BHP Billiton main stage, and artspace art gallery was open for a warm, cozy escape from the conditions. We still fear that the weather may have deterred some from coming out. And as the crowd began to thin as the night progressed, we wondered if a change in structure is due.

Our new challenges to address: How do entice more people to attend, and how do we ensure that they are able to stay to experience all of UNSCENE!? One idea we are considering is splitting future UNSCENE! happenings into two days—Friday night and Saturday afternoon/early evenings. This way we can achieve greater impact without wearing everyone out!

The consensus we’ve arrived to from the feedback of workers, volunteers, artists/vendors and others in the community is that this month’s UNSCENE! was a huge success in making the vision of Shreveport Common closer to reality. “It brought different vibes,” said Diego Martinez, UNSCENE! Digital Media Manager, “It was a good day. A good day.”