A season of cultural arts

Although the temperature is still abnormally high outside and mind-numbingly cold inside—thanks to air-conditioning in office buildings, restaurants and shopping centers—we are headed full speed into fall. School commences early, and football season is upon us. While tens of thousands will feel their hearts pounding on Sept. 1 as the LSU Tiger Band steps onto the field, many in our increasingly diverse community anxiously await the start of the cultural season. Kicking off in late August, the performing arts community offers a bounty of performance blessings through mid-May.

With many major venues in the Capital Region, one can enjoy live performances ranging from Broadway in Baton Rouge’s Rock of Ages to Louisiana Sinfonietta’s rendition of Vivaldi. For a city that ranks in size nationally around 70, Baton Rouge actually scores high in theater seats per capita.

Laurence Kaptain, having just completed his third year as dean of the LSU College of Music & Dramatic Arts, has quickly become a key player in educating theater goers—especially those of a business persuasion—on the importance of giving back. With a mantra similar to “To whom much is given, much is expected,” Kaptain has tirelessly raised millions of dollars in contributions for college programs in the midst of a challenging economic climate. “The CMDA brings measurable amounts of generated income and the immeasurable benefits of pride, creativity, civic identity and the evocative culture of live performance,” says the soft-spoken dean. Bravo, Dr. Kaptain! Oh, and encore!

The epitome of the “to whom much is given …” philosophy and the grand dame of our arts community, Sue Turner graces our cover this month. With quiet demeanor, elegance and dignity, Mrs. Turner brings joy to her hometown and beyond with her incredibly generous and thoughtful gifts of time, money and leadership.

Writer Kelli Bozeman gives us an overview of this year’s cultural season here. Of note are two NPR regulars: Ira Glass of This American Life will be at the LSU Union theatre on Aug. 26, and pianist Christopher O’Riley of From the Top will round out the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra’s regular season on March 21.

With the often-lamented cuts in funding for arts programs, it is up to those of us who reap the benefits of our rich cultural music, dance and theater programs to continue to show our financial support so we can keep these programs thriving for generations to come.