Corridor des Arts Team Members
Coming Soono

Background and History

In April 2012 a small group of artists and merchants from Sunset, Grand Coteau, and Arnaudville gathered to discuss how to better market and promote local culture. The group identified an existing rural trail of artists and venues that showcase the work of local artists and cultural torchbearers in neighboring communities and within designated Louisiana Cultural Districts of St. Landry and St. Martin parishes.

The focus quickly narrowed to joining communities together through the promotion of culture and presentation of local art and cultural programming. From this small group of imaginative and inventive folks, the idea of a Corridor des Arts was created: a rural art and culture trail connected by I-10 and I-49. Cultural torchbearer Brenda Mounier, utilizing a play on the word corridor, a car door was chosen for both logo and signage.

“Junk yards/cars seem to be a commonplace here because either ordinance aren’t in place or aren’t being enforced. The backroads are often forgotten. Because we were unable to change this dynamic, we decided to use it as a symbol of where we are. If you think about it, there can be beauty in how frayed and flawed we are. It sets us apart from the rest.” George Marks

Throughout the following months, the group continued to meet, and a Corridor des Arts committee, with representatives from each community, formed. To operate as a non-profit, Corridor des Arts partnered with NUNU Art and Cultural Collective, a 501(c)3 non-profit arts and culture incubator. The CdA committee contacted each venue, artist, and cultural torchbearers along the Corridor and invited them to be a part of Corridor des Arts, with the goal of showcasing art and cultural activities year-round.

November 3, 2012, was the first Corridor des Arts Fall Open Studio Tour, sponsored by both St. Landry Parish and St. Martin Parish tourist commissions. The tour was promoted throughout the state. Participating in this first tour were venues, studios, and galleries within the three communities of the Corridor. An evaluation of the 2012 tour revealed an increase in traffic and a need for more demonstrating artist participation along the entire Corridor.

Art promotion along the Corridor continued to evolve and added to April 20, 2013, Corridor des Arts Spring Open Studio Tour was the community of Cecilia and an outside market of juried artists, and local musicians showcasing our Acadian and Creole culture. This tour clearly indicated growth and continued interest from businesses, artists, and visitors in future Corridor des Arts Open Studio Tours.

Creative Communities, through the addition of the Creative Communities planning process, determined that CdA could create a trail 365 days out of the year. As CdA continued to grow, it welcomed new committee members and added representatives from each community. The community of Frozard was later added.

The Creative Community Planning process helped to formalize the following vision:
--recognize individual artistic self-expression 
--highlight the culture and heritage
--foster/encourage appreciation of artistic self-expression
-- incorporate artistic self-expression in the daily lives of residents and activities of communities

During the visioning session, much debate surrounded the definition and function of “Art.”  As a follow-up exercise, the team developed the following concept for Art as it exists and thrives with the Corridor des Arts.
--“Art is an opinion”
--Everyone is an artist/is artistic
--Sensory sensitivity/expression
--Professionally trained and self-taught
--Original designs
--Handmade items

Disciplines include (but are not limited to)
--Folk arts
--Mixed media
--Fused glass
--Stained glass

The team also recognized the challenge of perceived elitism of arts and artists within communities. Operating from the perspective that community assets, in the broadest sense, are buildings, pieces of land, people, events, projects, businesses, stories, and traditions that are an essential part of the social fabric of the area, all communities collectively worked together to create a list with the overarching question, if lost, would this significantly affect the community’s well-being.
--Established and future cultural districts
--Scenic back road route from Interstate 10 to Interstate 49 --French/Creole language/culture within each community
--Nascent understanding and support by local and parish governments
--Burgeoning art scene within each community
--Access to Interstate 49 in Sunset and Grand Coteau
--Access to Interstate 10 in Henderson
--Access to Bayou Teche in Arnaudville and Cecilia
--Local restaurants and small businesses
--Historic buildings ripe for renovation
--Atchafalaya National Heritage Area designations
--Churches and nonprofit organizations
--Paddle trail
--Elementary, junior, and high schools
--Private schools
--South St. Landry Community Library
--St. Martin Parish Libraries in Cecilia
--Sunset Merchant's Alliance
--Celebration of Herbs and Gardens 
--Exit 11 Yard Sale
--2nd Saturdays
--Old Sunset High Building
--Old Sunset Movie Theater
--St. Charles Church and Seminar
--Grand Coteau Academy of the Sacred Heart
--Grand Coteau Historic house of Grand Coteau, (circa 1810)
--Henderson Post Office
--Stephanie Plantation
--Cecilia/Arnaudville Sunset Town Hall (circa 1904)
--Community centers
--Local restaurants
--Award-winning business
--Artists and cultural torch bearer
--Restaurants Native traditions
--Acadiana Native Plant Project

Corridor des Arts is also representative of opportunity, in 2014, it served as the adult education component of the 2014 Semaine Française d’Arnaudville, a six-day rural Creative Placemaking summit (April 18-23) and an international exchange project of NUNU Arts and Culture Collective and Les Articulteurs of Brittany, France.

It is important to understand that the Corridor des Arts initiative is a process more than it is a model. It isn’t a template that is simply applied to a particular place with the expectation that it will yield specific results.

Over the years Corridor des Arts have seen many valleys and peaks. Participants have come and gone and some have returned and others will return again, communities have evolved, some for the better, some not; administrations have changed; programming has shifted and the concept has grown bigger but one thing remains consistent, the back roads connecting the participating communities are becoming the byways of commerce.

Corridor des Arts is now fully managed by the NUNU Arts and Culture Collective with some assistance from local merchants, cultural workers, area residents, and artists. It is dedicated to the continued growth and expansion of participants for the purpose of community and the cultural economy. It serves to create new partnerships and expand opportunities for businesses and communities in rural areas that do not have the funding and/or cultural resources necessary to command public attention.

Corridor des Arts today, with great thanks for the work of Alan Hospital, an intern from University Clement, France, worked to identify places and events from Henderson to Sunset that are arts and culturally relevant. The end result is a database in both English and French from which NUNU and those along the Corridor can be able to access so as to cross-promote one another. It is similar to what tourism does within their respective parishes. Moving forward. we can add a listing of all artists, musicians, storytellers, French/Creole speakers, and more. In addition, Corridor will include all venues where you can find French and Creole and will link to the state-sponsored Culturalyst. It will also include a listing of all safe spaces for people and a listing of places that include green initiatives.