Twenty years ago the torpor of the oil bust held fast in Lafayette. Residents were fleeing the region in search of opportunity. The Lafayette Municipal Auditorium was shuttered for renovations, and the Fine Arts Foundation, a performing arts presenter, folded its tent in bankruptcy. It was dire straits for performing arts fans, but also an opportunity to fill a vacuum. When the old Muni reopened as the Heymann Performing Arts Center, the Performing Arts Society of Acadiana was poised to fill the void, and to fill the stage with a wide world’s variety — classical, jazz and popular music and dance; musicals; orchestras, chamber groups and soloists; Euro circus and Asian acrobats. Lafayette’s cultural life got a booster shot that continues to help maintain our immunity to stupidity.
“Our favorite moments will always be the times when people in our community learn more about the world, about literature, about other cultures or about themselves because they attended a show,” says PASA Executive Director Jackie Lyle. “Stage lights are for artists. We’re here to make the lives of those we serve livelier and better.”
Lyle has presided over PASA from jump, helping — along with a board of directors and a small but committed staff — to build the fledgling non-profit into an Acadiana brand. In addition to its annual performance series, PASA reaches out to the community through daytime performances for students, PASA Plus (performances for senior citizens), Play it Again (a recycled instrument drive for schools), a scholarship fund for aspiring artists, and PASA in the Park, an outdoor performance series. “PASA’s founders never envisioned the array of activities that make up the organization’s portfolio today,” Lyle says, adding that those satellite activities “evolved from a combination of need, circumstance and opportunity.”
PASA in the Park grew out of need: The Heymann Center was closed in October 2005 due to hurricanes Katrina and Rita, but the Aquila Theatre’s production of Hamlet was already booked and needed a venue. PASA moved the Shakespeare performance to Parc International — an ideal remedy for the circumstances. “Didn’t we all need something else besides 24-hour news, anyway?” Lyle observes.
Over the years PASA has also commissioned new works: David Parsons’s Swing Shift (2003) and Elisa Monte’s Feu Follet (1995) and Zydeco Zare! (2008). Those modern dance pieces are still being performed worldwide, born of the financial underwriting of a Lafayette non-profit. That’s pretty cool.
PASA celebrates its 20th anniversary tomorrow, Thursday, Feb. 25, with a performance by one of the most dynamic, original, ground-breaking and uniquely American dance companies for nearly a half century. “Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater embodies the history, diversity, excellence and beauty of our nation and of PASA,” says Lyle.
ALVIN AILEY AMERICAN DANCE THEATER
Lyle Loves It
An executive director’s short list of PASA highlights
“The performance by superstar violinist Itzhak Perlman and the late pianist Samuel Sanders and Tony Bennett’s concert were big hits. The performances of La Traviata and La Boheme by the Stanislavski Opera were our most solid and most inventive opera offerings. The 1990 recital by soprano Dawn Upshaw, one of opera’s most popular names today, was a beautiful night of singing, just after she had won her first Grammy award. Although composer Philip Glass’s solo recital was lightly attended, that selection certainly demonstrated PASA’s commitment to local access: a recital by Philip Glass is an unusual event anywhere, but Glass fans here were able to hear him perform his own music within a short drive from their homes.” — Jackie Lyle
Local and state agents Thursday night raided The Keg, the popular college bar located in the area known as The Strip, leading to the (at least) temporary closure of the venue.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, April 18, 2014:
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Time and time again, the Lafayette Parish School Board shows an overwhelming tendency toward idiocy, but Wednesday night’s contentious discussion over Northside High School’s teen mother program tops the list of dumb discussions.
C & C Technologies, HIT Fitness, R3 Sciences, the Acadiana Symphony Association and the United Way of Acadiana recognized for innovation.
“The accomplishment of this goal within the next ten years is not only critical for the region to effectively compete with other regions for residents and businesses, but also to provide an amenity for everyone in Acadiana to enjoy.”
Education Superintendent John White says a continued push to try to keep Louisiana from using tests associated with the Common Core education standards are creating "a state of chaos" for public school teachers.
The Acadiana Symphony Orchestra has decided to end its traditional Independence Day spectacular known as Red White & Boom.
Under the deal, Teche shareholders would get 1.162 shares of IberiaBank for each share of Teche stock.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to use $210 million in surplus and one-time money to help balance next year's budget received the backing Thursday of the State Bond Commission, support that was needed for the maneuver to work.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
State wildlife and fisheries agents have arrested a 39-year-old man accused of stealing crawfish.
An East Feliciana Parish lawmaker has jettisoned his proposal to make it harder for a condemned prisoner to appeal a death sentence.
Senators advanced a proposal Wednesday that would let the governor remove New Orleans-area levee board members for violating what he considers to be public policy, despite concerns it would introduce political meddling into state flood protection.
The must have pieces this season
Dave Perkins, LCG Comp Plan honored along with local architects and designers at the 2014 INDesign Awards
Greg Manuel’s Lafayette-based residential development company is taking advantage of exponential industrial growth in Lake Charles.
Longtime Lafayette retailer ventures online.
It’s not how aggressive or conservative you are — it’s planning for risk that matters most.
Thanks to cutting-edge digital technology, more and more consumers are banking on ATMs and mobile phones.
Regional bank bids farewell to Downtown May 30
ABiz takes a look back at the most noteworthy moments for the local banking industry over the last year.
Most experts say short-term interest rates will be unchanged through 2014, but long-term rates are inching up.
Largest recruitment event in Acadiana returns May 21 to the Cajundome Convention Center
A lawyer’s ad should only be a starting point, as there is much more to consider when seeking quality representation.
Thanks to the inaugural 2012 INNOV8, a design for lifting heavy objects was brought to market.
The annual juried competition recognizes excellence in architecture, interior design and historic preservation in Lafayette and the five surrounding parishes.
Cypress Bayou GM hosts open house.
New hires, promotions, transfers in Acadiana business
The scion of a landmark Four Corners restaurant climbs back into Lafayette’s culinary scene as franchisee for a popular burger chain.