Robichaux: Art is influential in positive youth development: River Region Arts & Humanities Council opens 2020 grants

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 12, 2019

My parents both work as occupational therapists, and my brother is working hard to get into physical therapy school. I might seem like the odd one out as someone who opted to write for the newspaper instead of traveling down a science-focused career path.

I would never undervalue the importance of a STEM-based education. Science technology, engineering and math are relevant to lucrative careers here in the River Parishes, and those skills are important in the 21st Century workplace.

However, I don’t think of the arts as “less.”

After all, a website needs both the programmer to make it functional and the designer to make it user-friendly. I identify strongly with Franklin D. Roosevelt’s quote that happiness lies in the “joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.”

I look around and see the impact arts have on young people in our community.

I see teenagers blossoming on stage in community theater productions. I visit schools and see students proudly pull sketchbooks out of their schoolbags to show the talents that help define them.

Each year, several St. John the Baptist Parish groups apply for grants from the River Regional Arts & Humanities Council to continue inspiring creative-minded children.

There were 22 RRAHC grants awarded in January of this year, amounting to $13,500 in funding for the arts in St. John the Baptist, St. Charles and St. James parishes.

The St. John events funded through the grant money included the following:

St. Joan of Arc Catholic School: “Alice in Wonderland” Missoula Children’s Theatre Production;

San Francisco Plantation Foundation: 16th Annual Frisco Fest – Children’s Art Tent;

Riverside Academy: “The Wild, Wild West Arts Festival” – 11th Annual Festival;

St. Peter Catholic School: Drama Club “Aladdin” Disney Production;

Ascension of Our Lord School: “Debris Art” – Workshop by artist Trish Ransom;

John L. Ory Magnet School: Talented Music Department “Aladdin” Disney Production/School Performance;

St. Charles Catholic High School: Stage Hands Drama Club: “The Addams Family”;

Emily C. Watkins Elementary: St. John the Baptist Public Schools Art Expo;

West St. John High School: “Growing STEM” – Visual Arts with Graphic Arts;

St. John Theatre, Inc.: “Hillbilly Silly Science Spectacular”;

Garyville Timber Museum Association: Prints & Frames of Old Timbermill Operations/Lifestyle Photos

The River Region Arts & Humanities Council is founded on the premise that the arts and humanities are an integral part of everyday life. According to organizers, “The purpose of the council is to serve as an umbrella organization to enrich the quality of life within the region through the promotion of the arts and humanities, the preservation and enhancement of local culture, and the support of art education through fundraising and program development.”

RRAHC has 2020 grants available to schools, theater groups, libraries, art guilds and other qualified non-profit organizations. The 2020 grants will not exceed $1,000 per application. Applications are available at or by calling Grant Committee member Harold Flynn Jr. at 985-651-9090. Applications must be received by Nov. 13. Grants will be announced in mid-December, and recipients will receive awards at the RRAHC annual meeting at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 14. Recipients or a representative must be present to accept the grant. For more information, visit

More than $400,000 in grants has been presented thus far, according to RRAHC president Beth Bourgeois. Community support is required to continue providing annual grants.

An All Saints and Souls fundraiser will be held from 3 to 6 p.m. Nov. 2 at Frenier Landing in LaPlace. The event will also honor a recently deceased founding member, local artist Marilyn Vicknair, and auction a piece of her original artwork. A silent auction will include items donated by other local artists.

All Corporate, Patron and Sponsor level supporters will be recognized by the Master of Ceremonies and on the main event promotional material. Sponsorship can be sent to RRAHC, P.O. Box 1411, LaPlace, LA 70068. For more information, email

I hope to see the River Region Arts and Humanities Council continue to support the arts.


Brooke Robichaux is news editor for L’OBSERVATEUR. She can be reached at 985-652-9545