Avenue’s Impact

25 years of supporting the nonprofits that support New Orleans
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I started as Editor of St. Charles Avenue magazine almost two months before my first issue appeared on stands. I had served in Editor and Managing Editor positions for various magazines previously, but Avenue was another beast entirely – and I was 26 and nervous.

It was January 2008, and I was joining then-Editor Sue Strachan on a shoot for New Orleans Museum of Art’s “Art in Bloom.” It was my first time on an Avenue cover shoot, and I was hanging back, taking everything in. Anne Redd, Susu Stall, Dana Hansel and E. John Bullard joined us, and everyone was hugging and chatting. Sue introduced me to everyone as her successor, and then joined photographer Greg Miles. They began to arrange those four in the flower-bedecked room created by James Clawson, Roland Montealegre and the staff of Urban Earth. One of George Rodrigue’s Blue Dogs (that was to be auctioned off at the Patron Party) was carefully placed in the lower corner. As Greg and Sue talked of hand placement and head tilts, I wondered at the easy camaraderie and professionalism of everyone involved. “This is so easy!” I thought. “I can definitely do this.”

This issue is my 160th as the Editor of Avenue. Not all cover shoots have been as easy or as professional, some have had to be scrapped entirely at the last moment, but looking through them I can remember something – a moment, a conversation, a secret shared – that makes each one a unique and precious memory.

When I started to envision this feature, I began with the most important question: Why does Avenue exist? What sets this magazine apart from not only the rest of Renaissance Publishing’s portfolio, but other publications in New Orleans, Louisiana, the South, the United States?

The answer is simple. It is also why I’m joyful and very proud to see my name next to “Editor” in the masthead of this 25th anniversary issue. We exist to support the nonprofits that support New Orleans. 

For over 25 years, since November 1995, this magazine has been more than, as I once heard it described, “a place where you can find pretty pictures of pretty people at pretty parties.”

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The more I thought about it, the more I knew I needed to showcase numbers. Not only the numbers of nonprofits covered, events profiled, recipes shared, etc., but the numerical and financial impact that this publication has had on our city. It turns out, however, that getting that data is neigh impossible. (Please enjoy our sidebar “Economic Impact of Nonprofits on New Orleans” for Biz Editor Kimberly Singletary’s summation of what we could discover.)

So, while I paged through 303 issues and talked to our team, I also sent out questionnaires to more than 50 of you whom I’ve worked with and come to know. Your thoughtful and considerate answers, which I wish we could’ve included in their entirety, did more than inform me that having your nonprofit event featured on our cover boosts ticket sales and auction prices, or that being profiled has increased your visibility and sales, they also warmed my heart. I see our magazine as your partner in generating the means to elevate those causes that are most in need.

You reminded me that this magazine is more than a series of who, what, where and when of philanthropic events; it’s also a record of weddings, births and memories, meals shared and friendships begun. I know for a fact that Avenue has had its hand in starting relationships and even families. 

Many of you reading this have become my friends (though I might only know you through email). Some of you continue to be my mentors. Some of you have even become like family.  

And those people I met at the cover shoot in January 2008? I always smile when I see them in the pages of our magazine. I have been to birthday and debutante parties, Carnival Balls and funerals and even bars and floats with those ladies and gentlemen. And James and Roland of Urban Earth? They were the minds behind the theme and florals of my wedding in 2012 (featured in Entertaining With Bev in Avenue’s May 2012 issue), and James and I still meet for the occasional toast!

So, let’s toast together! To 25 years of fundraisers, friendships and striving together to make our city better every day. Thank you!

A Special Thank You:

To the (literally, I tried to count) hundreds of publishers, editors, art directors, columnists, writers, photographers, photography coordinators, designers, sales directors, account executives, production designers, advertisers, interns and circulation, subscription and administration officers who have had a hand in the past 25 years of St. Charles Avenue, and to those who are just starting with us, a giant “Thank you!” Without you none of this would have been possible and our future wouldn’t shine so brightly.

And to Beverly Church: You ARE Avenue. You embody the ideals, the dreams and even the palate of this magazine. You have become more than an advisor to me, you have become a confidant, friend and compatriot, and I can’t imagine my life – or this magazine – without you.

Categories: Feature