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Arts community calls on Mayor-President Guillory to keep Heymann Center open

Posted at 4:37 PM, May 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-28 22:53:16-04

Days after Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory announced the layoff of 99 LCG employees, including many who work at The Heymann Performing Arts Center, many in the local arts community are calling on Guillory to keep the center open.

An online petition,started by Annie Foreman on behalf of "Dancers of Lafayette," states that the events scheduled for the next few months at the Heymann Center would have generated "thousands of tax dollars in the Lafayette community."

"Canceling these events is robbing thousands of dancers from showcasing their years' worth of hard work, and robbing the joy of the arts from thousands who find it a necessary expression. It is in fact a need, not a want. Lafayette is known for its richness in the arts," the petition continues.

Created Thursday morning, the petition asks for 7,000 signatures. As of 9:20 p.m. Thursday, it had garnered more than 9,000 signatures.

Guillory responded on Facebook Thursday afternoon, saying he appreciates the contributions of the Heymann Center to the culture of Lafayette.

"No one can say responsibly that I took this action lightly, or because I don't understand or value the arts," Guillory said.

The challenge, according to Guillory, is that the Heymann loses money even when operating at full capacity. After having been closed for months, "we still don't know when the facility will be able to reopen or under what conditions."

Guillory said that the city will run through its entire "savings account" in about two years at the current rates of spending and with a collapse in oil prices and issues brought on by COVID-19.

"We must fulfill our duty to these core responsibilities fire and police protection, drainage, and roads for the health and safety of our people first. Then we can provide resources to all the wonderful things we enjoy that enrich our community life."

Members from the Lafayette dance community brought up their concerns to Guillory at a town hall meeting on Wednesday, arguing that the dance studios and their events create revenue for the community, and that many local vendors are utilized for these events.

Guillory said the speakers brought up good points and said that, if LCG can find a way that is "not a strain on the budget, then it's an easy answer. An easy answer, we'll make it happen."

You can read Guillory's full statement below.

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You can read Guillory's full statement below.

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