Thursday, April 18, 2024

Bossier Arts Council executive director says farewell to Bossier City

by BIZ Magazine

Stacey Tinsley, BIZ. Magazine

After a tenure of over 10 years, Robin Jones is leaving her post as the Executive Director of the Bossier Arts Council, a local nonprofit arts organization.

“Over the years, I have gotten to know our local artists and have made many friends. I think I’ll miss them the most. Whether sitting in the “One Stop” showing an artist how to write an artist statement; helping them develop their online platform; or just talking to them about their future plans in general, these things very much feed my soul,” Jones said.

“It is my absolute favorite thing to get a card or an email from an artist showcasing what my tutelage has helped them accomplish,” she added.

“I will miss the laughter outside of my office window from the kiddos at the art house. And, I will miss walking through the East Bank District checking in on all of the merchants,” Jones concluded.

Jones’ path to the Bossier Arts Council began in 2010, when she started as a volunteer.

“In 2010, I started volunteering at the Bossier Arts Council. They needed help at the front desk greeting visitors and answering the phones. I had visited the gallery a couple of times and really fell in love with the potential,” said Jones.

Because of her theater and event experience, she began handling the bookings for the building and was promoted to Site and Education Coordinator. She began developing outreach programs for local students. In 2016, she was made Executive Director.

“When I first started working at the Bossier Arts Council, there were very little funds for any type of programming. The programs that did exist were put together on a shoestring budget and not functioning in the capacity that they should. With the help of an incredible Board of Directors, we put together a fantastic team that helped us pursue a better way of supporting our mission,” Jones said.

“I started with a rebrand of the Bossier Arts Council. If the general public was not aware of who we are, how could they know what we could do for them? This included adding programs that would foster a sense of community and get supporters through the door. When the supporters came along, we were able to implement new programs,” she said.

Jones went on to say “During my time as director, I started a program called “Project Art Supplies.” This is a program in which we collect or purchase art supplies for area teachers in order to supplement their classrooms. We simply do not believe the teachers should have to spend money out of their own pockets for art supplies. “Project Art Supplies” is now in its sixth year and has helped hundreds of teachers supplement their classrooms.”

“We also attend and support local festivals by bringing kids activities and teaching the public about the benefits of the Bossier Arts Council. This was something not done before my time at the Bossier Arts Council (BAC). It helps us connect with the public and to give back to the supporters in the community. It gives my employees a sense of purpose in their community,” she said.

“We are now producing theater again. Because of the lack of funds, we were unable to produce large productions. We now have a 12 foot rotating stage and the capability to provide the community with quality productions,” Jones added.

“One of my favorite additions during my time at the BAC is the “Little Free Art House and Library.” During Covid, we felt an urgent need to help students who were stuck at home by giving them access to art supplies. Through the help of a local family, we were able to build it. The best part of my day is sitting in my office and listening to the kiddos squeal with excitement when they get items from the “Little Free Art House and Library.” We leave a container of sidewalk chalk outside as well. As a result, the children gift us with incredible artwork,” said Jones.

Jones went on to say “The BAC has gone from a little known arts council, to a major player in the arts community. I am proud of that. And, I am proud of my staff and the impact that I feel we are making. Local artists now have a home that provides both the support and the space to bolster their careers. Kids have a place that fosters their creativity and keeps them supplied with art supplies. Teachers have a resource to help them supplement their classrooms and showcase their work. And, supporters know that their donations are going right back into the arts.”

Seeing the growth in the East Bank District over the years, Jones says she would like to see further growth in the East Bank District that includes “artsy” types of businesses.

“Along with the growth of the arts council, the city has invested wisely in the infrastructure of the East Bank. This combination has created a public friendly area that has attracted many fantastic new businesses. And, this is now the place to go when you want a night out on the town or a quiet family lunch in a fun atmosphere. The plaza has provided a space for us to gather as a community and support all of the wonderful and rich culture that lives in Bossier City,” Jones said.

“I would like to see artsy businesses and attractions open that provide more activities for people to do while in the East Bank District. I would like for the BAC to continue expanding programs and providing services for the community,” she concluded.

As Jones and her family say farewell to Bossier City, she leaves her team, board and community with these parting words: “There are simply no words that can express my gratitude for the way that they have allowed me to be a part of this amazing organization. I will cherish my time at the BAC. And, I will never forget the good work that was done here and will continue to be done here. Every single artist, teacher, student, staff member, board member and patron has contributed to the many successes at BAC. I am so proud of that work and they should be too,” Jones said.

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