Rachel Hanson is the chairperson for ARTS!Lafayette, a non-profit organization aimed at raising money and obtaining grants for the benefit of arts and culture in the city of Lafayette. We spoke to Hanson, a long-time Lafayette resident, to find out what the organization is all about…R
Yellow Scene: What is ARTS!Lafayette?
Rachel Hanson: It’s a non-profit organization that was started in 2011. We were developed by local volunteers who wanted to create an organization to support art and cultural activities in Lafayette through donations and also promote volunteerism in our community. We have a non-profit status, so anyone who donates to ARTS!Lafayette can write it off in their taxes.
YS: How does it differ to the other arts boards in Lafayette?
RH: There are two other arts boards in Lafayette and both of them are volunteer commissions that fall under the city. The city is not a non-profit organization, the city is a city. The Public Art Committee and the Cultural Arts Commission are both city volunteer committees and commissions that conduct the arts and cultural activities on behalf of the city. They’re made up of citizen volunteers as well, but we are separate. We are our own organization.
YS: Could you tell us a little about your background…
RH: I was raised in Lafayette, I went to Lafayette schools, and I moved back to Lafayette to raise our family. I’ve lived in Lafayette for the majority of my life. I moved here when I was seven. I have a background as a teacher and then as an artist, I co-owned a jewelry design business which is no longer in existence. I’m a collage artist, personally. I’m married, and I have two teenage daughters who attend Lafayette schools.
YS: You started ARTS!Lafayette, is that correct?
RH: Yes, I was part of a group of four volunteers who started ARTS!Lafayette. We just felt that there was a need for a non-profit, because a non-profit gives us the ability to apply for grants and accept donations to promote the arts. When the city has organizations, which are great organizations and I previously had been a part of and chair of the Public Art Committee, there are certain grants that city organizations are precluded from because they don’t have the non-profit status. One example is the Jean Mellblom Memorial Fund. She was a pioneer in public art in Lafayette, and when she passed her family wanted to collect donations to purchase a sculpture. We are helping her family do that.
YS: What are the biggest achievements of the board since it came into being?
RH: I think that one of the most visible achievements of ARTS!Lafayette is we have been able to run the beer and wine service for Art Night Out, because we are not the city and we are our own organization. We have applied for the liquor license and insurance needed to run the Beer & Wine Garden. We go through training with the Lafayette Police Department and we have worked with local breweries and we make it possible to serve beer and wine at Art Night Out, which has been a great benefit to that event, and has helped Art Night Out to grow considerably over the past few years. It serves as our biggest fund-raiser, currently.
Find out more at artslafayette.org.