BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Brandon Lewis, the LSU Museum of Art educator and public programs manager, is leading a free summer program that aims to make art classes accessible for more families.

The Neighborhood Arts Project, or NAP, begins Tuesday, June 6, and ends Friday, July 21.

“I feel that artistic extracurriculars for kids are expensive,” said Danijela Micovic, Baton Rouge parent of two. “I also think there are not that many of them available in the Baton Rouge area. While there are a decent number of music programs available, I found it difficult to find a visual arts (painting, drawing) program for my kids.”

Kendreka Bell is a single parent who also finds many programs have high barriers – particularly the cost and schedule.

“Only families who have money can have access to art,” Bell said. “So, I find myself looking into programs that are free. That can be challenging because they aren’t that easy to find, and as a single mother, I work during the hours most are available.”

She added, “Even the programs that cost don’t provide transportation. So, it’s funny to me to have to drop my child off and pick them up, and still pay.”

NAP addresses the need for transportation by bringing adventures to neighborhoods and communities.

Program organizers go to underserved Baton Rouge neighborhoods and set up tents at churches and community centers. Lively, hands-on classes help people create art that represents culture and diversity.

NAP has been in operation since 2012, and Lewis said it’s been a success in previous years.

“Residents in the serviced communities have benefited greatly from the neighborhood arts project,” Lewis said. “From bringing art exploration to the underserved areas of our city to promoting hope and creativity to a diverse group of people, the residents of the Greater Baton Rouge area are genuinely educated and motivated to create by way of this program.”

Why art matters to people, communities in need of hope

Lewis feels the art-centric program fuels the hearts of the communities it serves.

“Art is a bridge,” said Lewis. “During the pandemic, it was the arts that stood the test, it was the arts that kept people’s morale high and hopes lifted while they bunkered down at home. For all the negative elements that came with the pandemic, art was the north star for millions to follow. When you drive in areas where abandoned buildings have been turned into beautiful murals, you are looking a positive symbol for that community, it is saying ‘We care about you, we care about this area.’”

Even if a resident doesn’t consider themselves an artist, Lewis encourages them to attend the NAP in their community.

“For the record, we are all artists,” he explained. “We all can imagine and create. NAP is meant to encourage creativity from those who think they don’t have an artistic bone in their body. Every man, woman and child, no matter the age, can benefit from visiting one our locations this summer.”

How you can participate

Every capital area citizen, regardless of socioeconomic status, is invited to play a role in this summer’s NAP.

“Anyone can come out to one of the sites and engage in creating. You do not have to be a member of that area to come out and support, and if you can’t make your way to one of our locations, you can consider becoming a member of the LSU Museum of Art,” said Lewis. “By becoming a member your gifts directly impact our programming at the museum in a positive way. Because of the generous gifts of our members, donors, and partners we can keep NAP coming back year after year.”

This summer’s NAP is sponsored by the Office of Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, CareSouth Medical & Dental, and each Neighborhood Arts Project location. 

Listed below is the 2023 NAP summer schedule.

Date(s) and TimesLocation
June 15, June 20, June 29   10 a.m.–12 p.m.Village Resource Center (765 North Acadian Thruway Baton Rouge, LA, 70802)  
June 8, June 21, July 6   10 a.m.–12 p.m.Hartley/Vey Park at Gardere (1702 Gardere Ln, Baton Rouge, LA 70820)  
June 9 10 a.m.–12 p.m.Shiloh Baptist Church (185 Eddie Robinson Sr. Dr., Baton Rouge, La 70802)  
June 7, June 13 10 a.m.–12 p.m.New Hope Baptist Church (5856 Greenwell Springs Rd, Baton Rouge, LA 70806)  
June 14 10 a.m.–12 p.m.Mt. Gillion Baptist Church (346 E. Buchanan St., Baton Rouge, LA 70802)  
June 16 10 a.m.–12 p.m.Delmont Gardens Branch Library (3351 Lorraine St., Baton Rouge, La 70805)  
June 19 10 a.m.–12 p.m.Mt. Pilgrim Baptist Church (9700 Scenic Highway, Baton Rouge, La 70807)  
June 21 10 a.m.–12 p.m.Xi Nu Lambda Alpha Phi Alpha House (867 N Foster Dr, Baton Rouge, LA 70806)
June 23, June 28 10 a.m.–12 p.m.My Faith Thrift Store (8844 Greenwell Springs Rd., Baton Rouge, LA 70814)  
June 27, June 29 10 a.m.–12 p.m.Baker High School (3200 Groom Rd., Baker, LA 70714)  
June 30, July 7 10 a.m.–12 p.m.Pearl George Community Center (4000 Gus Young Ave., Baton Rouge, LA 70802)
July 11 10 a.m.–12 p.m.Scotlandville High School (9870 Scotland Ave, Baton Rouge, LA 70807)  
July 12 10 a.m.–12 p.m.EBRP Main Branch Library (7711 Goodwood Blvd, Baton Rouge, LA 70806)
July 13 10 a.m.–12 p.m.River Center Library (250 North Blvd, Baton Rouge, LA 70802)  
July 14 10 a.m.–12 p.m.Eden Park Branch Library (5131 Greenwell Springs Rd., Baton Rouge, La 70806)
July 18 10 a.m.–12 p.m.Greenwell Springs Road Regional Branch (11300 Greenwell Sprigs Rd., Baton Rouge, LA 70814)
July 19 10 a.m.–12 p.m.Baker Branch Library (3501 Groom Rd, Baker, LA 70714)  
July 20 10 a.m.–12 p.m.Mt. Bethel Baptist Church (13540 Scenic Hwy, Baton Rouge, La 70807)  
July 21 10 a.m.–12 p.m.Gus Young BREC Center (4200 Gus Young Ave, Baton Rouge, La 70802)  

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