64 Parishes

Summer Nights and a Salute to Henry Price

The man who shines his light on NWLA arts and artists

Published: May 31, 2023
Last Updated: August 31, 2023

Summer Nights and a Salute to Henry Price

Photo by Casey Jones

Henry Price.

As it has done every summer since Neon Saturday Nights in the summer of ’95, the Shreveport Regional Arts Council (SRAC) invites you to dive into non-stop summer fun in downtown Shreveport. Kick back and unwind with Friday GLOFests on the riverfront near the Bakowski Bridge of Lights on the Texas Street Bridge. Celebrate summer in Caddo Common Park with PoeticX Sundays, Ron Hardy drumming Thursdays, the Shreveport Regional Jazz Ensemble kicking off Fridays, and live entertainment onstage in the new Performance Pavilion. Stop the boredom and enroll kids in artspace summer camps to produce one-of-a-kind art projects. And enjoy a gallery filled from top to bottom with more than one hundred new works by Critical Mass XI artists at artspace. Henry Price helped orchestrate those first summer Neon Saturday Nights, has served ten years as president of SRAC, and supports all of northwest Louisiana’s arts and artists.

In 2013 at a time of dramatic transition and change for northwest Louisiana arts, Price succeeded beloved art patron O. Delton Harrison as SRAC president. SRAC Executive Director Pam Atchison said, “It was a new day for arts growth and a time for new voices. SRAC had just moved into the Central Arts Station and was embarking on the Shreveport Common urban art and cultural project, meant to rebuild and stimulate physical and economic growth in a blighted, nine-block area of downtown Shreveport. The next step would be to create a vibrancy for the arts and the artists, with new training opportunities, new relationships, and an environment in which regional art and artists could flourish. No one was better for embarking down that new road with northwest Louisiana’s arts than Price.”

In the mid- to late 1990s, Price had chaired a Community Cultural Planning initiative funded by Americans for the Arts in Washington, DC. Price said, “Most of downtown Shreveport was boarded up at that time. If you flew over the city at night, you saw only darkness. We needed to know what our artistic and cultural resources were, but also to understand what the community’s and the artists’ needs were and what they would support. We sought input from communities across the city, and people were enthusiastic and proud to participate. We produced some impressive results, including the largest mega mural in the world at that time, restoration of downtown businesses, and crowds of people enjoying those Neon Saturday Nights.”

Price emphasizes the importance of support for art and artists in the course of his own development. “At every strategic place in my life, there has been someone who has played an important role,” he explained. “In the ninth grade, my homeroom teacher, Lloyd Jackson, gave me my first set of pastels. My junior high principal, Bessie Steels, told me to find a way to get the $97 I needed to enroll in Southern University. And my first art teacher at Southern, Roosevelt Daniel, arranged for me to have a job helping his aunt that paid the last two years of my college.” Price went on to get his master’s degree in art education at Louisiana Tech, taught art at North Caddo High School, served as assistant principal at Caddo Magnet High School, and eventually became the fine arts curriculum specialist (K–12) for Caddo Parish Public Schools.

Price has lived his life supporting the arts. In 2010 he was invited to travel to the Italian Riviera to participate in a study of Italian culture and arts. He works with the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts and is a founding fellow of the Louisiana A+ Schools initiative for the implementation of total school arts integration across the state. When art education was threatened with extinction in Louisiana, Price fought for its continuance and, with SRAC, was instrumental in creating the thirty-seven-year ArtBreak Festival in downtown Shreveport. In 2014 the National Art Education Association named him the Southeastern Regional Art Supervisor of the Year. On March 24, 2019, the Smithsonian invited Price to be a panelist at the showing of the documentary Clementine Hunter’s World, to speak about Hunter and the impact of her art.

Price describes art as the great equalizer. “Art does not care about your annual income, or what neighborhood you are from, or where you went to school. I believe we have to grow our own support for the arts whether it be visual art, the ballet, symphony, film, or culinary arts. I see it as my job to raise the level of consciousness for art.”

He recollects some of the best, most colorful SRAC-sponsored events of the last several decades: the first SRAC ArtBreak, in the parking lot in front of the Municipal Auditorium and the nearby cemetery, which successfully piqued interest in and enthusiasm for keeping the arts alive in schools; puppet designer Wayne White’s UnScene Puppet Parade along Common Street; being a part of painting the peplum pieces that became the pattern for the Once in a Millennium Moon mega mural; beading blankets with world-renowned soundsuit artist Nick Cave; partying like a rock star at any of the bi-annual Christmas in the Sky extravaganzas; or tossing confetti at William Joyce in celebration of his Academy Award–winning short film The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.

Henry Price and SRAC have brought light to downtown Shreveport summer nights and vitality to its days. Join the fun this summer at Friday GLOFests, Caddo Common Park events, artspace summer camps, and the Critical Mass XI exhibition. Make the summer of ’23 the best days of your life. Visit shrevearts.org to learn more.