Update: The Ebb & Flow Festival will continue this weekend rain or shine, organizers said on Friday. Events on Saturday will go as planned, but some Sunday activities have been moved into new locations. Check the bottom of this story for the latest changes.
When the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge decided in 2017 to rebrand its annual Fest For All, the organization wanted to highlight Baton Rouge's role as the capital city; its contributions to the arts, sports and education; and the significance of the massive Mississippi River that connects in some way to most of the United States.
"Everything ebbs and flows into this and goes out through the tentacles of the state and into the world," said Arts Council President Renée Chatelain. "This whole idea is to celebrate that and our significant place at the center of that wagon wheel — the center place where people ebb and flow."
There's a lot going into the Ebb & Flow Festival, which will hold its third annual two-day event on Saturday, April 6, and Sunday, April 7, in downtown Baton Rouge. Close to 150 local and regional artists, musicians, businesses and community groups will take part in this year's festival, staging performances, hosting workshops and showcasing what they do.
Several arts organizations are also rolling their own programming into the festival: the Louisiana International Film Festival, which will not hold an event this year, is screening several films at venues around Ebb & Flow; First Presbyterian Church will stage its re-imagining of "Godspell" at 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; and Red Magnolia Theatre Company will read "12 Angry Men" — performed by "12 Impassioned Women" — as part of the national 12,000 Voices program.
During their planning, Ebb & Flow organizers made an open call for participants, giving them space to create what they wanted.
"But the only requirement we had was that it would engage with the community — that the public could come up and have some kind of free engagement," said Rhaea D'Aliesio, community engagement coordinator at the Arts Council. "We want this to be an introduction for some people in Baton Rouge, to be introduced to some organizations maybe they met once and they forgot or maybe they've never known that they could take advantage of."
And then there's "Art Flow." Formerly Forum 35's "Art Melt," "Art Flow" is a juried exhibition of 104 pieces of art by 52 artists, placed in dozens of establishments in downtown Baton Rouge and across the river in Port Allen. Artwork can be found at the usual spots, like LSU's Museum of Art or at the Arts Council on Laurel Street, but venues also include the Baton Rouge Police Department, Chow Main, Prescriptions to Geaux and Matherne's Market. Art will be on display through April 15.
Along with the two-day, namesake festival, an Ebb & Flow festival season encompasses the Red Stick FutureFest, Third Street Songwriters Festival, the Young Entrepreneurs Academy Trade Show, Live After Five and the Baton Rouge Blues Festival. The festival season is an umbrella term — each festival operates autonomously as it normally would — but the intention, Chatelain said, is to build a growing cultural brand around the busy downtown festival scene and art happenings taking place in Baton Rouge.
To help organize all of this, the Arts Council has created an Ebb & Flow app, FlowBR, available for free for iPhone and Android phones. The app has information on the Ebb & Flow Festival and the other events in the festival season, and a map of art events happening around Baton Rouge. And you can find locations for "Art Flow" pieces and vote for an artwork. Winners of the "Art Flow" juried and public prizes will be announced at this weekend's festival.
Art Flow is a different kind of art exhibit.
The Ebb & Flow plan is to let things grow, Chatelain and D'Aliesio said. There is a desire to steadily expand the festival season umbrella each year, and the intention is to add more information to the app about Baton Rouge arts events. The Arts Council is working with Visit Baton Rouge to leverage these things — to show tourists, outsiders and people living in the city that, "Hey, there's a lot going on in Baton Rouge."
"For a long time, when something was really great, people would say 'Wow, this is cool. I feel like I'm not in Baton Rouge,’ ” Chatelain said. "I'm going to challenge you: You are in Baton Rouge. Cool things happen here. Innovation happens here."
Continue reading for more about this year's Ebb & Flow Festival.
Ebb & Flow Festival Season
- Red Stick FutureFest: March 27-31, LSU's Digital Media Center.
Growing out of the Red Stick Animation Festival and the Red Stick Fest, the Red Stick FutureFest focuses on where digital media and art intersect. The festival hosts a series of events, like a concert of electronic music and sonic art, a panel on social media's future and a "digital jam" session where amateurs can work with professionals on new software and digital ideas, at the Digital Media Center on LSU's campus. This year's festival is over, but more information can be found online at redsitckfestival.org.
- Third Street Songwriters Festival: April 5-7, downtown Baton Rouge.
The fifth annual Third Street Songwriters Festival will feature more than 140 songwriters, counting 13 different states, performing at multiple venues along, you guessed it, 3rd Street in downtown Baton Rouge. Most of the performances will be presented in Nashville-style songwriter rounds featuring several musicians sharing the stage and presenting their songs and the stories behind them. A featured showcase with headliner Jeffrey Steele will take place at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Manship Theatre. Rick Huckaby, CJ Solar and Blake Griffith will perform an opening round. Showcase tickets are $50-$60. For more information about the festival's lineup and venues, go to thirdstreetsongwritersfestival.com.
- Ebb & Flow Festival: April 6-7, downtown Baton Rouge.
Regional artists, musicians, storytellers, poets, dancers and organizations will converge on downtown for two days of art along the Mississippi River. Continue reading for more information about the festival. ebbandflowbr.org.
School of Rock, Flamenco Rouge, 3rd Street songwriters and the Heritage Choir are among the local musicians, dancers and poets who will be per…
- Young Entrepreneurs Academy Trade Show: April 6, Ebb & Flow Festival's IDEA Stage.
High school students, ages 13-18, and part of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy of Baton Rouge will present and launch their newest businesses. Learn more online at yeabr.org.
- Live After Five: Fridays, April 5-May 17, Crest Stage at Galvez Plaza.
The spring Live After Five series opens Friday, April 5, with Baton Rouge country act the Chase Tyler Band. The series continues with blues rocker Chris LeBlanc on April 12; New Orleans party band River City Hit Squad on April 26; ’80s cover band Werewolf on May 3; swamp pop band Mike Broussard & Night Train on May 10; and Grammy-winning New Orleans group Rebirth Brass Band on May 17. Each concert is free and starts at 5 p.m. downtownbr.org/lineup.
- Baton Rouge Blues Festival: April 13-14, downtown Baton Rouge.
The Baton Rouge Blues Festival will celebrate its 25th edition with 45 performances across five stages downtown. There's a lot of blues, rock 'n' roll and R&B taking over the home of the swamp blues. Soul and gospel great Mavis Staples will headline Sunday at the festival. Keep an eye out for our preview coverage of this year's Blues Festival in the April 12 issue of RED. And you can learn more online at batonrougebluesfestival.org.
Around the Ebb & Flow Festival
There's a lot more happening at Ebb & Flow than we can fit here. For each stage's full schedule, go online to ebbandflowbr.org.
- Artist's Isle: More than 60 Louisiana artists will display and sell their works in a juried arts market along Lafayette Street.
- Music Row: Presented in partnership with the Third Street Songwriter's Festival. Musicians will be performing for free in venues along 3rd Street, from Florida to North boulevards.
- Idea Stage: The "Inspiration. Design. Entrepreneurship. Art" stage will feature Baton Rouge entrepreneurs and creators demonstrating their skills, performing and leading workshops. Keep an eye out for: Front Yard Bikes will have bicycles available to check out for the day; a workshop about the state's film tax credits takes place at noon Sunday; the Krewe of Yazoo Precision Lawn Mower Drill Team will perform at 2 p.m. Sunday; and a couple of booths will present on protecting and restoring Louisiana's coastal wetlands.
- Crest Stage: The Crest Stage at Galvez Plaza will host afternoons filled with music. New Orleans roots fiddler Amanda Shaw will headline at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, and Big Sam's Funky Nation, also from the Crescent City, closes out Sunday at 4:45 p.m. Also look for performances by Third Street Songwriters Festival participants, including CJ Solar, and the LSU Golden Girls and Southern University Dancing Dolls.
- Kid's Coast: Covering all of Repentance Park, the Kid's Coast will feature performances throughout the two days; a Kid's Ninja Warrior course (built by GymFitBR); creative play areas with the Knock Knock Children's Museum; a virtual reality demonstration with the East Baton Rouge Parish Library, which is also bringing the book mobile; and dancing with Of Moving Colors, For the Love of Dance and Flamenco Rouge.
- Mahli's House: The Arts Council will also launch a location within the Kid's Coast especially for individuals with sensory sensitivities, called Mahli's House. Mahli's House, which is named after musician Michael Foster's daughter, uses soothing lighting and items for a relaxed environment for those on the Autism spectrum or with sensory sensitivities. Sound-reducing headphones and sensory tools will also be available for checkout and use around Ebb & Flow. A mobile unit, the Arts Council intends to make Mahli's House available for other festivals in Baton Rouge.
- Art Battles: On Saturday, middle schoolers and high schoolers can test their skills and square off in timed art competitions. Organized by nonprofit Le Jeunes Artists de Louisiane, which will provide primary, black and white paints, boards and paintbrushes. Artists can bring other materials they want to include in their work. Middle school registration at 10 a.m.; high school registration opens at noon. More details can be found at lejeunesartistes.com.
- Poet's Pier: Dedicated to local poets and authors, Poet's Pier will not only feature performances throughout both days, but booths will be set up for Head to Head Haiku Battles, poetry workshops, pocket poems and a festivalwide Exquisite Corpse game. Baton Rouge poet Xero Skidmore will headline at 4:30 p.m. Sunday. And look out for Red Magnolia Theatre Company performing "12 Angry Men" as "read by 12 Impassioned Women." The organization's performance is part of the national 12,000 Voices initiative, an effort to have 1,000 play readings of "12 Angry Men" take place over this weekend.
- "Art Flow": Formerly Forum 35's "Art Melt," "Art Flow" is a juried art exhibition featuring 104 pieces of art by 52 artists spread across dozens of venues around downtown Baton Rouge and Port Allen. Using the FlowBR app, people can vote for their favorite piece of art, and winners of the juried prize and public vote will be announced during the Ebb & Flow Festival.
- heArt Trail: A 5K walking or running trail (in the shape of a heart, if you squint) through downtown Baton Rouge that includes temporary art installations and city landmarks. Look out for the large crocheted mural, "Trailblazer" by New York City artist OLEK, hanging on the Triangle Building, 233 St. Ferdinand St. The mural is of classical singer and civil rights icon Marian Anderson. At 11:15 a.m. Saturday, Baton Rouge choral ensemble Heritage will lead a free, public singalong of "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing."
- LIFF at Ebb & Flow: The Louisiana International Film Festival will host film screenings and panel discussions during the festival. Look for screenings of "On Va! Continuer," a Louisiana music documentary following the Lost Bayou Ramblers during their recording of its album "Kalenda" (7 p.m. Saturday at Firehouse Gallery); Louisiana Short Films (1 p.m. Sunday at LASM); a series of mature horror and animation shorts (2:45 p.m. Sunday at LASM); and an eco-documentary about people working on sustainable water solutions, "Sustainable Nation" (4 p.m. Sunday at LASM). A narrative feature, "Cover Me," will also screen at 6:30 p.m. Friday at LSU's Museum of Art — the Baton Rouge-shot film follows James, a songwriter who is uncomfortable performing in front of others, and Curt, who begins playing James' music to success. LIFF panels include a women in film and television discussion (noon Sunday at the IDEA Stage); LA Tax Credits (11 a.m. Saturday at the IDEA Stage); Producing Your First Film (noon Saturday at LSU's MOA); and Cinematography 101 (1:40 p.m. Saturday at LSU's MOA).
The Louisiana International Film Festival won't hold a festival this year and will instead screen a selection of films during the Ebb and Flo…
Updates for Sunday, April 7. For the latest, check the FlowBR app.
• Crest Stage performances will go on as planned, but with pauses for weather delays, if necessary.
• Artist's Isle will move indoors to the Hartley/Vey Studio Theatre and the atrium of the Shaw Center for the Arts.
• Kid's Coast activities will be moved to the Louisiana Art & Science Museum.
• The Corporate Art Battle will take place under the overhang on the western side of City Hall.
• Film screenings and panels will take place at 7 p.m. Saturday and all day Sunday at the Firehouse Gallery at the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge (427 Laurel St.)
Ebb & Flow Festival
11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, April 6, and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, April 7
Downtown Baton Rouge