Where the Streams Meet
Arnaudville's International Art Scene
George Marks, co-concept developer of the NuNu-Arnaudville Experiment, and Mavis Frugé, director of the Jacques Arnaud French Studies Collective
Travis Gauthier Photographs
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It was a clear December morning when French attaché Philippe Aldon drove to the transitional junction of bayous Teche and Fuselier. Aldon, cultural assistant to the New Orleans French Consulate, carried with him a proposal that Consul Général Jean-Claude Brunet both approved and recommended.
Within the Brittany region of France, a group of business partners formulated in 2004 a methodology of job creation using arts as a conduit for the promotion of business, culture and education. This group, Les Articulteurs, challenged the mind-set of economic development by placing an emphasis on cultural economy, and what resulted for the communities of Pays de Redon and Vilaine were new jobs, more wealth and a greater quality of life.
“In Redon, Les Articulteurs cultivates the arts as a source of growth within their rural communities by enabling a redefinition of resources and territories, reinventing a sense of community development and innovating new social dynamics in a sustainable way,” Aldon says. “The NuNu Arts and Culture Collective and the people in Arnaudville are engaged in a very similar process.
“The consulate offered to act as a link between what is going on locally in Arnaudville with what is going on locally in Redon. By bringing the two groups together, it would enable both those in Arnaudville and Redon to meet and acknowledge each other for the purpose of cooperation toward development and perpetuation of mutual goals. The consulate believed that this partnership has a strong potential for cultural economy and rural development.”
The proposal that Aldon carried with him to Arnaudville was an invitation for representatives of NuNu Arts and Culture Collective, the town of Arnaudville, the parishes of St. Martin and St. Landry and area businesses to visit France and meet with Les Articulteurs representatives. The French Consulate of New Orleans would assist with introductions and arrangement of meetings.
The proposal was presented informally to visual artist George Marks, co-concept developer of the NuNu-Arnaudville Experiment; Mavis Frugé, director of the Jacques Arnaud French Studies Collective; and Gaye Hamilton, cultural district program manager, Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation & Tourism. No one meeting with Aldon that day had prior knowledge of Les Articulteurs.
Within days, letters were sent out to all possible interested parties, and within one month, a delegation of five was created. Traveling to France were Marks; Frugé; visual artist Jill Hackney, director of Frederick l’École des Arts; Celeste Gomez, director of the St. Landry Parish Tourist Commission; and Vicki L. Chrisman, former administrative director of Louisiana Folk Roots.
The stated intent of the delegation was to gather information. What they returned with was an offer to make NuNu Arts and Culture Collective the first North American cluster of Les Articulteurs.
Les Articulteurs clusters are expanded partnerships of agreement to adhere to Les Articulteurs methodology of cultural economy creation. Adapted into programs are area cultural identities and their respective products.
Beginning with identification of values held in common, stakeholders develop steps of action founded on cooperation and sharing. The engine is pushed forward by designating programs to four areas of concentration: niche economics, live entertainment and events, research and training and the pooling of human and technical resources.
According to Les Articulteurs, there are clusters in Brussels and Mons, Belgium, and Krakow, Poland. Under development are clusters in the Netherlands and Ireland. And in France, projects of Les Articulteurs benefit 54 communities in two regions.
For more information of the work of Les Articulteurs, visit wobook.com/WBPb1tt6SP28.
To become a cluster of Les Articulteurs, NuNu Arts and Culture Collective must first prove itself to be a serious partner through the initiation of five starter programs.