Mission and Goals
New Arts Cultural Society, Inc. is a non-profit organization that has contributed greatly to the cultural/educational life of the citizens of the Shreveport Metropolitan area since 1970. The mission is to educate, cultivate, and promote all facets of the arts (music, dance, theater, visual and literary arts) and enhancing education, through broad based community activities: choral concerts, lecture-recitals, creative writing sessions with a focus in poetry, speech and drama.
Specific goals are:
- To provide for the artistic and educational skills of the talents of the youth of the communities, including the under-served;
- To provide guidance for youth on how to balance the rigors of academics with other school and community activities;
- To provide professional role models/mentors (locally and nationally) for today’s students, to instruct, council, motivate, encourage and enlighten them, always reminding them of their own experiences and the role that the academics played in their overall development.
Summary of Organization’s History
New Arts Cultural Society, Inc. was officially organized in 1970 by Bobby Wiggins in order to elevate the cultural level and aesthetic nature of man via various performance possibilities, always encouraging professionalism and excellence of the highest order. From the beginning there was always emphasis on enhancing education stressing academic excellence, especially for students in their quest for career choices whether in the arts or any other discipline. The New Dimensions Choral Society was the first performance group under the umbrella of the Cultural Society and served as a major support to the Festival of the Arts at Southern University — Shreveport Campus, performing annually alone and with the Shreveport Symphony.
In addition to Spirituals, past performances have included commissioned works: Roger Dickerson’s “A Requiem for Louis Armstrong”; Oratorios: Handel’s Messiah, Dubois’s The Seven Last Words of Christ, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, and John Work’s Isaac Watts Contemplates the Cross; Operas: Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha, Verdi’s Otello, Frederick Deliue’s Koanga, Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors, and Kurt Weill’s Street Scene & Down in the Valley; and other works: Robert R. Bennett’s The Many Moods of Christmas & Carol Cantata, Jerome Kern’s Show Boat, and Peter Udell’s Purlie.
Current Programs, Activities, Accomplishments
With the addition of the New Dimensions Youth Chorale in 1982, New Arts continues to bring to the community programs in accordance to the missions statement and stated goals and objectives. The Youth Chorale, led by Julie B. Lester, is always a part of all events presented locally and across the states of Louisiana and Texas. This group of youth consists of singers accepted on a volunteer basis and receive professional weekly choral-vocal preparation via the finest of literature from all periods of music and styles: technic, jazz, folk, spirituals, patriotic, etc. The New Dimensions Choral Society likewise consists of dozens of singers with a strong and varied history of performances locally, across and out of the state of Louisiana.
Historic events include the Grand Reopening concert of the historic Strand Theater, the first Martin L. King, Jr. Holiday recognition program sponsored by the city of Shreveport, and thereafter several other MLK events and the first MLK Commemoration concert. Seasonal events are the annual Christmas and Spring Concerts. In 2006, the first Women’s Month Recognition, honoring women in various careers and the Creative Performance Youth Gala, had their beginnings.
An important highlight of every season (since 1990) is the Celebration of the Spirituals (Negro Spirituals), which the organization produces as a two-day event. The Celebration of Negro Spirituals includes two components:
- A Lecture-Recital by local and invited guest professional artists, and
- The Festival of Choirs, which features as many as fifteen community, church, and elementary and high school and college/university choirs from the nation singing original and classic renditions of the Negro Spiritual, mostly a cappella.
This event has become very popular with constituents in attendance from as far as San Antonio and Houston, Texas, Virginia, Michigan, and Georgia. This act of enhancing education has been very successful in helping the public to know the difference between Gospel and the Negro Spiritual. Many refer to Spirituals as “Gospel” music. The Negro Spiritual is not Gospel. It is a distinctive art form of a people — never composed, always arranged, and has become a part of the total fabric of American music as a classic art form.
Founder / Original Director (deceased)
New Dimensions Choral Society Director
Julie B. Lester
New Dimensions Youth Chorale Director