2014 Community Arts Award Recipients Announced

The Arts Council of New Orleans recognizes outstanding contributions to the cultural community

The Arts Council of New Orleans today announces the 2014 Community Arts Awards recipients to be honored during an awards celebration on Wednesday, December 3rd.  Attendees can expect the unexpected in familiar places at Mardi Gras World. This year marks the 38th year of honoring creative and innovative recipients, each selected for their artistic excellence, inspired vision, unique achievements, perseverance, and continuous commitment to the arts and local community.

First NBC Bank is a community bank with 32 locations on the South and North Shores throughout the Greater New Orleans Area. President & CEO Ashton J. Ryan Jr. opened the financial institution a year after Hurricane Katrina determined that the Bank would play a vital role in the region’s revitalization. Now a $3.6 billion institution, First NBC’s contributions have been acknowledged in numerous publications and by community organizations. The Bank is noted for assisting small businesses to reopen, its public/private collaborative efforts to construct much needed single family housing and utilizing federal and state tax credits for economic projects throughout the area.

This year’s award recipients exemplify a wide range of artistic achievements and highlight various sectors of the New Orleans creative community. 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award recipients include one of the most celebrated African American Benevolent Societies in Louisiana, the Young Men Olympian Junior Benevolent Association, and the Zion Harmonizers, one of the regions oldest gospel vocal groups. Individual honorees include Mardi Gras Indian Chief and educator Howard Miller, arts activist Jeanne Nathan, and gallery owner Arthur Roger. Organizations to be honored include A Studio in the Woods, an innovative artist residency space that nurtures and promotes the creative connection between art and the environment, and the Hogan Jazz Archive at Tulane for their commitment to the conservation of the musical history of New Orleans. Each award recipients will be highlighted with a video produced by local artists in a mini-documentary festival fashion.

 The 2014 Community Arts Awards will be held on Wednesday, December 3rd from 5:00p.m. – 7:00 p.m. at Mardi Gras World, 1380 Port of New Orleans Pl.  Patrons will receive an advance preview of the event from 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at www.artscouncilofneworleans.org or by calling 504-523-1465.


Community Arts Awards Recipient Bios:

An innovative residency pioneer, A Studio in the Woods, a program of Tulane University, has an established record of pairing land preservation with intimate artist residencies, connecting artists to the local community through creative discourse centered on environmental challenges. The exceptional hospitality of its founders, Lucianne and Joe Carmichael, was the beginning of an artist’s retreat for visual, literary and performing artists to work uninterrupted in a beautiful forest just minutes from downtown New Orleans. As one of the first artists’ communities in the deep South, ASITW provides time, space, and support for artists’ creative research and risk-taking in an environment rich in stimulation and fellowship.

Having just recently celebrated their 75th Anniversary, New Orleans’ own Zion Harmonizers is one of the region’s oldest gospel vocal groups. These living legends repeatedly won every gospel award in the city and have performed all over the world to enthusiastic audiences. Benjamin Maxon organized the Zion Harmonizers in 1939 in the New Orleans neighborhood known as “New Zion.” Maxon’s aunt was Alberta French Johnson, who led the renowned all-women’s gospel group, the Southern Harps. She trained her young nephew and his friends, Sherman Washington and Nolan Washington in the style of the traditional gospel quartet, an art form that they still practice today. They still rely heavily on the old-time a cappella style, using four-part harmonies to get their message across.

The Hogan Jazz Archive at Tulane is the leading research center for the study of New Orleans jazz and related musical genres, including New Orleans ragtime, gospel, blues, rhythm and blues, and Creole songs. Among its holdings are 2,000 reels of oral history interviews with musicians, family members, and observers that document the stories surrounding the emergence of jazz in New Orleans from the late 19th century and beyond. Other holdings include sound recordings, film, photography, sheet music, personal papers and records of the American Federation of Musicians Local 174-496, ephemera, and realia. Originally established in 1958 as the Archive of New Orleans Jazz under a subvention from the Ford Foundation, the William Ransom Hogan Archive of New Orleans Jazz at Tulane University was renamed in honor of Professor Hogan, the primary investigator, in 1974.

Founded in 1884, Young Men Olympian Junior Benevolent Association is the oldest Benevolent Association in Louisiana. Originally, mutual aid societies were established to provide a type of insurance through dues and fundraising activities to assist those in the black community with health care and funeral expenses. The colorful brass band parades and Jazz Funerals were a form of advertising to promote membership in the organizations. Its mission is “To promote and cultivate morality, and to practice charity among its members and those who may come within the influences of the organization and its members; to care for the sick, alleviate the distress of the destitute members, to assist the dead, and to do other acts of charity and benevolence.”  Activities include feeding the homeless, summer camps for youth, park sponsorships, and school supply give-always as well as community partnerships.

Big Chief Howard Miller of the Creole Wild West is a Mardi Gras Indian Chief and educator who devoted the last 15 years to teaching young people about Mardi Gras Indian culture. Known as Big Chief Howard, he began masking Indian in 1969. He has established a Saturday class at A.L. Davis Park for young people interested in the tradition to learn the sewing skills necessary to join a tribe. Beyond teaching the skills required to make a suit, Big Chief Miller educates his group of 25-30 youths about the history and meaning of the culture, such as the spiritual dances and chants. He is recognized among his peers for his dedication, commitment, compassion, deep knowledge of his tradition, and his outstanding devotion to local youth. 

Jeanne Nathan has a long and impressive track record of contributions to the arts community in New Orleans. She is a tireless creator and organizer of cultural, economic development and neighborhood events, organizations, and large-scale initiatives in the city, including the Contemporary Arts Center and the WBOK show Crosstown Conversations, producer of the late night jazz festival Dew Drop Inn II. She integrated cultural initiatives into a thirty-five year career in broadcast journalism, marketing and public service for three mayors in New Orleans and New York City. Nathan is the Founder and Executive Director of the Creative Alliance of New Orleans, (CANO). Through CANO Jeanne Nathan campaigns for the cultivation and advancement of creative industries in the city as an avenue for economic revitalization. 

 Arthur Roger is an accomplished gallery owner who opened the doors of his space on Magazine Street in 1978. Since establishing Arthur Roger Gallery, he has become a well-known figure within the world of contemporary art promoting local artists nationwide.  Arthur Roger Gallery, now on Julia Street, currently represents approximately 30 Gulf Coast artists among them nationally recognized artists Jacqueline Bishop, Ida Kohlmeyer, John T. Scott, George Dureau, Lin Emery, Simon Gunning and others*. The gallery started the annual Art Against Aids fundraiser and has raised more than 5 million dollars for direct AIDS service in New Orleans.  Arthur Roger Gallery, and Arthur Roger himself, is strongly committed to playing a key role in the cultural revitalization of New Orleans.   


 Arts Council of New Orleans is a private, non-profit organization designated as the City’s official arts agency. As a multidisciplinary arts agency, the Arts Council operates in three conceptual areas: People- Community Engagement and the Creative Citizen, Place- Civic Design and the Urban Aesthetic, and Artists- Artistic Excellence and Creative Services. Each area works to advance the Arts Council’s overall mission to nurture creativity and enrich lives through inspiration, connection, transformation, and investment in the New Orleans arts and cultural community.