National Arts in Education Week

Designated by Congress in 2010 through House Resolution 275, National Arts in Education Week is intended to highlight art education programs in communities across the country and bring awareness to the need  for equitable access to the arts for all.  To celebrate this important occasion, we at the Arts Council decided to reflect on how arts education influenced our own lives. 


Renee Chatelain – President and CEO

My first dance recital – I started dance at Howell Park BREC.  That class did more than give me a great costume and aggravate my brother who had to dress up for the recital.  It made my world more accessible on a global level and introduced me to possibilities otherwise unknown to my family and to me.  Good teachers in that program encouraged my mother to place me in a ballet school.  In response, my mother enrolled me with Phoebe Brantley, which then directed the course of my life.



Leea Reese Russell – Director of Education and Community Engagement

When I was 11, my mother enrolled me in a dance camp where I studied dance in a way I had never studied before.  By unpacking the terminology, history, and cultural connections in dance, my interest was sparked, my artistic soul was fed, and the experience shaped my secondary and post-secondary education path.  #BecauseofArtsEd I am proud to hold an arts degree and even more proud to have been able to use that degree in every job I’ve had since graduation.  My hope is that we one day live in a world where art education experiences like mine are accessible to all.



Ashley Fabre – Director of Communications and Development

Arts Education made me the person I am today. Throughout my life I was a singer, dancer, and actor. I absolutely loved performing in musicals!  I have performed in Playmakers, Episcopal High School, and Theatre Baton Rouge productions.  I was a dancer at Jeffie Jean Dance Studio for 14 years, took intensive classes each summer at Broadway Dance Center in New York City, and ballet at Dance Center and Dancer’s Workshop.  I have learned so much more than the art discipline of theater, dance, and music, I learned self-discipline, constructive criticism, competition, companionship, team-work, sense of purpose, and responsibility.  I carry with me each day all the incredible practices I have learned into my professional career.



Kelsey Livingston- Director of Visual Arts

In this picture you see a girl who is VERY proud of winning that second-place ribbon, but because she is 15, she cannot let anyone know just how happy she is. In fact, she can't let anyone know that she is capable of feeling happy about anything at all, as is standard for teenage girls. That girl is me. Leading up to this point I had just learned about the artist Georgia O'Keeffe. She was a painter who often fixated on the very things that I would find myself focusing on in my own art studio later in life like the human condition of mortality, which she painted via the metaphor of animal skulls, and life & fertility via the visual of flowers. I was not in a place to understand her meanings when I was 15, but I did understand that she was making art that represented something other than what it depicted on its surface. I chose to do something similar. In my mind that meant making a flower-dragon. That flower-dragon was the first thing that I really planned out and cared about as an art project, and to have my hard work acknowledged in such a way gave me the confidence that I had some aptitude in art, and lead me to pursuing it as a career. Now I hold three arts degrees, including my masters and I exhibit my artwork internationally. All because of that initial second place ribbon. #becauseofartsed



Liz Goad – Director of Resources

This is a photo of me wearing a mask that I made at a workshop at Louisiana Art & Science Museum. I loved it so much I convinced my mom to let me wear it to school. Making art and being surrounded by art was where I shined and felt most comfortable being my weird little self. That's still true!



Jonathan Grimes – Director of Facilities and Season Programming

I will always remember the time trumpeter “Byron Stripling” came to visit my first-grade class.  He played some songs, told jokes, and created a positive environment for myself and all of my classmates.  That experience confirmed my love for music and wanting to recreate that feeling for others.  Now 26 years later, I work at an Arts Organization, and I am a professional musician.

Baby J on the Guitar.jpg


Melissa Arnold – Chief Financial and Human Resources Officer

My passion is working with my hands. Being curious and creative is at the core of who I am.  Imagining a project, picturing how to make it, working through making it and then comparing the actual ‘thing’ to the imagined one is the ‘scientific method’ of my imagination and creativity.  From this process I learn problem solving, flexibility, independence and self-esteem as well as a bit of humility.  And that’s why I believe education in the arts will lead everywhere.



Rhaea D’Aliesio – Arts Education Coordinator

#BecauseofArtsEd my world was opened to the joy, freedom, and healing of classical music, and I was given a healthy means of expression. Through passionate teachers, I learned patience and discipline and (eventually) how to correctly hold a flute!