Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge: An organization that believes everyone is an artist

(From left) Director of Communications Pam Bordelon and Executive Vice President Jonathan Grimes record an episode for the AC23 podcast at the Jan & Bill Grimes Recording studio, which is housed inside the Cary Saurage Community Arts Center.

While The Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge originated as a Junior League project in 1973, it’s grown to be much more.


Top executives: Renee Chatelain, President & CEO; Jonathan Grimes, Executive Vice President

Phone: 225.344.8558

Address: 233 St. Ferdinand St., Baton Rouge, LA 70802


In January 2022, The Arts Council opened the Cary Saurage Community Arts Center, converting a blighted building in downtown Baton Rouge into a vibrant workspace for artists and creatives. The center contains everything from a state-of-the-art recording studio to a kiln room. The expanded space allows for the Arts Council to host camps and classes for all ages, as well as host artists that need a space to create. President and CEO Renee Chatelain hopes that everyone can enjoy their new space, not just artists.

When creating the plans for the center, Chatelain looked to the past. “It was really important to me to look to the people on whose shoulders I stand—those people still with us who served in capacity from board services to artists,” she says. “Peg Towers, the chair of the Junior League board tasked with starting an arts council in 1973, provided us with lots of historical documentation and reflection. It’s important to us to look back, but also to use that information to look forward.”

Chatelain believes that the Arts Council is unique because it not only creates programming through the arts, but strives to foster the creative capacity of others. “The more sustainable model is to empower people to create and to give them a platform. It makes our community better,” she says. 

Drawing inspiration from national arts advocate Jamie Bennett (who believes that instead of “giving a voice to the voiceless,” the arts are about “giving ears to the earless”) Chatelain hopes to expand Baton Rouge’s listening capacity so everyone’s voice can be heard.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Arts Council’s creation, and Chatelain is already working on bigger projects to expand the council’s reach. The Arts Council serves eleven parishes, but they’d like to better connect with regions outside the immediate Baton Rouge area. They are working on enhancing senior living spaces by bringing in artists and expanding into economic development and advocacy. They’ve recently created the Everett G. Powers Creativity Fund, named after one of the first leaders at the Arts Council. It focuses on empowering people with great ideas. “You don’t have to call yourself an artist; you just have to have an idea for something creative that changes the game for our community.”