The emergence of the St. Tammany Art Association (STAA), on December 1, 1958, was just the beginning of the life long celebration in the community of the arts. The idea of the origination’s concept came from the first meeting notes taken August 15, 1957 at a group meeting held at the Covington resident, Mrs. Miriam Barranger. In the notes it stated that their group’s motto was “to encourage education and interest in the fine arts in the community through lectures, panel discussions, exhibits and the screening of motion pictures. To sponsor classes in painting, sculpture, crafts and the fine arts generally.”
In the last sixty years, the STAA has not only lived out this motto, but the nonprofit, has superseded it by supporting local well-known and emerging artists. Throughout the years it has enriched the residents of St. Tammany Parish through cultural programs and activities such as three galleries, six annual art markets, the Covington Art Market, Art Alley, the annual Fall for Art Festival, the annual Spring for Art Festival, both adult and children educational classes, holiday and summer camps, artists’ panel discussions and special programs such as Cancer to Canvas, Sizzlin’ Seniors and Veteran to Veteran.
With the development of Art Alley that runs along N. Columbia Street between STAA’s Art House and the historic H.J. Smith & Sons General Store, STAA brings a space for community gatherings and cultural commerce space. Kim Bergeron, the former executive director, turned the ordinary alley into a place of art celebration and the home of the Covington Art Market. According to Bergeron, “Art Alley initiative is a Creative Placemaking effort designed to transform an ordinary alley into a community gathering and cultural commerce space. I intend to continue to work toward bringing that project to its full potential. The harmonica campfire concert with our Culture Camp children, led by GrayHawk Perkins, and the Holiday Children’s Tea in Art Alley were among my favorite events – truly magical. I see so many possibilities for Art Alley as a place to celebrate arts, culture and non-profit organizations.”
STAA will continue to serve the community and reach as many people from all walks of life in the celebration of art. As the nonprofit pursues a new executive director, STAA will remember their motto and all of the programs created by the former leader. Roswell Pogue, president of STAA’s board of directors describes Kim Bergeron by stating, “Her enthusiasm and drive have expanded our community outreach and profile. We are here, as an organization, to reach as many people from all walks of life as is possible, and Kim has been integral to that goal.”
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