L AFAYETTE — Senior citizens who are active participants and investors in the arts but often are unable to attend events because of transportation problems will soon have the chance to sign up for a new program that will provide them with a ride from their homes to an art event at no cost.
The Arts Bus is an initiative to connect and involve senior citizens with performing arts events throughout Lafayette by providing a free taxi-like service from their homes to the event’s location.
“The older crowd wants to maintain their independence, and they don’t want to depend on other people but still would like to continue doing the things they enjoy doing,” said Karen Rue, owner and operator of Griswold Home Care, who began developing the idea about two years ago.
The bus initially will serve 30 people who are 65 years or older by driving them door to door to six performing arts events in Lafayette.
Seniors interested in participating must be able to move with nominal assistance, Rue said. However, there will be a volunteer on the bus to provide assistance.
“Lafayette is tough as far as public transportation and getting around the way it’s been developed,” Rue said. “There was no easy way for people who could no longer drive to get to places they desired to go with easy access.”
She said the Arts Bus will also help combat depression through the social interaction that many people in this age group do not have access to without the proper transportation.
“It’s a simple idea, but it’s really beautiful in its simplicity,” said Sarah Brown, an administrator for the Arts Bus and a local performer. “It’s not only a service to seniors, but it’s a service to the art community, which is where I come from.
“It’s been so much fun because (the seniors) are so excited and grateful for the opportunity. It’s a blessing to work on this, and it’s great that Karen came up with it.”
For the first event, participating seniors will be shuttled to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Opera Theater to see “An Evening with Gilbert and Sullivan” Nov. 7 at 7:30 p.m.
Other shows include “Annie Get Your Gun” at Cité des Arts, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the Lafayette Ballet Theatre and “Les Misérables” with the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra and UL-Lafayette.
The six scheduled shows, known as “The Golden Series,” will be presented over a six-month period from November through May, involving operas, plays, ballets and more.
The ticket package for attending all of the events is at a discounted price of $125, but the use of the bus will remain free through donations and sponsorships.
For those interested in signing up for the Arts Bus, go to www.artsbusla.com or call (337) 366-0523.