Leigha Porter’s vision for Moss Street in Lafayette is visionary: an arts district on the city’s north side.
It could be similar to what is found in downtowns of larger cities across the country, but Porter — co-creator of the Creole Nutcracker and now a PACE teacher at the Acadiana Center for the Arts — hopes her PARC Village will also be the home to her FIRE Expressions Performing Arts Conservator, acting as a catalyst of sorts for the area.
The 2,800-square-foot building, at 2323 Moss St., that Porter purchased in April will officially open next month as an arts community center that will feature a wide swath of artists, ranging from podcasters to dancers.
“I’ve noticed traveling that inner cities are kind of building that artistic, cultural kind of district,” she said. “I feel like Moss Street could be that cultural district that we see in D.C. or in Los Angeles. I just feel like somebody has to have a vested interest and be the spark that kind of lights everything.”
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The multi-room building will include an exhibit room for creatives to show their work, two studios for dance or fitness, a music lab, a conference/meeting room and a lounge area. Porter also does podcasts, “I’m Making Moves,” and releases two episodes a month.
Porter bought the building, which once was home to a beauty/barbershop, after sitting empty for several years. The purchase was pushed back for months after the building lost part of its roof last year during the fall hurricanes that moved through the area.
Porter earlier this month moved her FIRE Expressions Performing Arts Conservatory into the building after it was housed in a smaller space at 835 W. Gloria Switch Road for eight years. It outgrew the space, she noted, with 85 students signed up for the program, enough last year that some were put on a waiting list.
"Lafayette is really an artistic city," Porter said. "We don't cultivate it enough. This space is here for you to find your voice, connect with the community and do the things you want to do as a creative to find your voice. The space is not just for music, musicians, dancers or visual artists."