HRAC members support art for Hammond community

Members of the HRAC celebrated together during the Annual Membership Gala last Friday, Apr. 29. Members enjoyed complimentary beverages and appetizers.

Members of the HRAC celebrated together during the Annual Membership Gala last Friday, Apr. 29. Members enjoyed complimentary beverages and appetizers. 
The Lion's Roar/Megan Ferrando

Art lovers from the surrounding area joined together for a night of swing dancing, art and more during the Annual Membership Gala at the Hammond Regional Arts Center located in downtown Hammond. The gala took place Friday, Apr. 29 and featured music, appetizers, a silent auction and wine provided by Red White and Brew.

“It’s just a way for us to show our appreciation to our members and to the community that supports us,” said HRAC executive director Katherine Marquette. “We would not exist without the support of our members and the community.”

According to Marquette, the HRAC largely depends on member contributions to help keep the center open.

“There’s a lot of misnomers about the Hammond Regional Arts Center funding,” said Marquette. “A lot of people think we get money from the city of Hammond or from the state of Louisiana and that is not the case. From the state of Louisiana we get about a little over 5,000 dollars in a grant from a decentralized art funding program and the rest of our money in terms of keeping this place open comes from the donations that are made by our members and from the corporations that support us from around the area, and then we hold fundraisers throughout the year. Those are the large sources of money.” 

Members of HRAC receive many benefits, including free entry into the Membership Gala. Other benefits include invitations to exhibitions, reduced rates on classes, tickets, discounts from local merchants, restaurants and more. 

“There’s a lot of different things people can get and take advantage of,” said media coordinator for HRAC Tara Bennett. “I think the arts are very important to a developing community. Especially if we want to be on the same tier as New Orleans and Lafayette because that’s what people go to see is the arts and the culture. So I think becoming a member and by supporting the arts center, you are supporting the community.”

One reason many decided to become an HRAC member is to support arts in the community.

“The whole art culture is very important,” said Jim McLellan, whose wife is on the HRAC board of directors. “It is for the most part an industry that requires public support. We will loose heritage and history if we do not continue to support the arts and that’s what its all about.”

The HRAC has monthly exhibitions, which according to members, helps bring culture to the area.

“It’s just a fabulous place that has an artistic pull and draw for the community,” said member Andrea Hano. “We got involved in being a member here to support the artistic endeavors. I think it’s important because art is the foundation of the culture and the society. It yields strength and knowledge. There’s just so much wisdom that comes from arts. It’s a forerunner for just so much information and mindsets in the artistic world.”

HRAC also provides community members with an opportunity to be exposed to different art.

“I think it’s important to support the arts and this is such a great facility for Hammond,” said Jan Songy. “There are a lot of artists and I wouldn’t be exposed to them if they didn’t have shows here. [It is an opportunity] to get a different perspective, see different types of art.”

Aside from simply seeing new art, many involved with the HRAC saw art as a place to grow, develop and learn.

“I believe it develops your creativity and problem solving in ways you wouldn’t think of, beyond basic reading and writing,” said Bennett. “I find that personally for myself, I’m learning more working in the arts than I ever did in the classroom or anything such as that.”

Members of the HRAC not only are supporting their own artistic passions, but also are helping the larger community by helping fund a place of art.

“The arts are crucial to well being and a person’s full development and potential and so that’s why it’s very, very important that we have new members and new people joining so we can sustain this place,” said Marquette. “It’s a gem in the community.”

The HRAC is currently one of the only locations to see art. Without the HRAC, many art lovers would have to travel to visit galleries.

“Recently the other two galleries that were in Hammond recently shut their doors which basically makes us the only game in town,” said Marquette. “It’s really important that the community has access. We are providing invaluable service to the community by being a resource for visual, performing and literary arts in this community. Not everybody has the ability to drive 60-80 miles to go to Baton Rouge or New Orleans, so it’s really important.”

One can become a member and explore more benefits simply by visiting hammondarts.org.

The cost of a basic membership is $30 for an individual, $20 for a senior or military member, $15 for students, $50 for couples, $100 for families, $250 for a Collectors’ Club membership and $500 for a Patrons’ Club membership. 

One does not have to be a member to visit the exhibitions at the HRAC. Exhibitions are free and open to the public. 

The next exhibition will open Friday, May 6 and will feature the Hammond Art Guild.