The roots of a budding cultural renaissance are beginning to run deep in Arnaudville, yielding a sort of magical aura that has put the spotlight on the small predominately French-speaking town. The spotlight returned Friday, and in an announcement by the nonprofit Louisiana Cultural Economy Foundation, Arnaudville has been named this year’s recipient of the Cultural Economy Hero award.
Arnaudville’s cultural renaissance is a relatively nascent development, but one with a momentum that shows no signs of slowing as a growing number of artists and musicians — a combination of out-of-town transplants and returning natives — are making a home in the small community situated just north of Lafayette.
There’s Tom’s Fiddle shop, known just as much for its porch-stomping jam sessions as it is for its instrument-lined walls; there’s Bayou Teche Breweries and its never-ending stream of newly invented brews (tasting is believing) and French-speaking tour guides; there’s the Nunu Arts and Culture Collective, an artistic HQ for the community featuring everything from art exhibitions to yoga to retreats to French language immersion classes; there’s the Little Big Cup and its unforgettable plate lunches that are cheap, classic and taste like home (if not better); and then, located next door to Little Big Cup, there’s the recently opened Bayou Warehouse offering deck-side dining and dancing with a bayou’s-eye view.
“Magic happens in Arnaudville,” says LCEF CEO Aimee Smallwood in a statement included with Friday’s press release. “It is place where multi-generational, multi-cultural creativity abounds, and authentic culture is the driving force for preservation and innovation.”
Arnaudville marks the second recipient of the Cultural Economy Hero award, which will be presented to the town during a Nov. 2 event in New Orleans.
In explaining Arnaudville’s selection, Friday’s release reads:
Arts and culture have become a catalyst for change in rural Arnaudville and citizens have been working to establish a French immersion center and cultural business incubator to revitalize their town. Arnaudville has welcomed French-speakers from all over the world and is now host to the New Orleans French Consulate’s annual French Week. At the center of this cultural movement ... is the mission to build on local culture and traditions, provide ‘global’ outreach and program development.
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