Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the Louisiana Economic Development grant during an event Friday that celebrated Waitr’s new downtown headquarters.
A travel website ranked Lafayette among “America’s Most Artistic Towns” – and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette is a big reason why.
Expedia’s list includes 26 communities that “are most contributing to the artistic culture of our country.”
The website cites only places with fewer than 1 million residents. Lafayette is among 10 cities categorized as medium-size, or having a population between 100,000 and 349,999 people. Lafayette’s population is more than 127,600.
Smaller communities are “currently giving our large cities a run for their money with creative festivals, top art schools, cutting-edge productions, dynamic street art and generous community support and patronage,” the website states.
“This country’s mid- and small-size places keep exciting, surprising and thriving with their creative spirits and innovation.”
Sharing the medium-size city category with Lafayette are Boulder, Colorado; Cambridge, Massachusetts; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Berkeley, California; Savannah, Georgia; Madison, Wisconsin; Cincinnati, Ohio; Tacoma, Washington; and Des Moines, Iowa.
Like Lafayette, several of those cities have research universities with established arts programs, or niche colleges devoted to art and design.
Expedia specifically cites UL Lafayette in its appraisal of the city: “Lafayette is special for institutions like the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where community involvement is part of its DNA, and the School of Music and Performing Arts is a center of social and cultural gathering.”
Dr. Jonathon Kulp, director of the School of Music and Performing Arts, called the designation "gratifying."
"But I would say that the honor belongs not only to the School of Music and Performing Arts, but to the entire College of the Arts, where gifted artists of all kinds contribute to the artistic life of Acadiana," he said.
The Expedia article also mentions ArtWalk, Festival International de Louisiane, and venues such as the Acadiana Center for the Arts and Cité des Arts as “essential” for “keeping art alive” in Lafayette and the region.
Expedia is a website travelers use to book airline tickets, reserve hotel rooms and rent cars. This is the second year the site designated its “Most Artistic Towns.”
Lafayette is the sole Louisiana city on the 2018 list, which you can read here.
Photo caption: UL Lafayette’s School of Music and Performing Arts staged “Metamorphoses” in 2016 at Burke-Hawthorne Hall. The travel website Expedia cited the school and the University as stewards of Lafayette’s arts and culture scene on its 2018 list of “America’s Most Artistic Towns.” (Photo credit: Doug Dugas / University of Louisiana at Lafayette)