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The Cary Saurage Community Arts Center, the new home for the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge, will hold its grand opening September 30. 

The Cary Saurage Community Arts Center, the new home for the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge, will hold its grand opening Sept. 30. 

Mysti Byrnes, a spokesperson for the Arts Council, told the Downtown Development District Board of Commissioners on Tuesday that MPAC is coming back to mark the grand opening. MPAC, which stands for Music, Performance, Arts and Community, was an annual event the council held in conjunction with 225 Magazine several years ago. The council has now taken over MPAC.

In other business, Karron Alford, director of marketing and technology for Visit Baton Rouge, said visitors are starting to return to downtown. The DDD also heard from Chris Chandler, head of the American Millennium Project, which is moving its headquarters from Shreveport to downtown.

ARTS COUNCIL: The new home for the Arts Council will be at 233 St. Ferdinand St.

The 12,000-square-foot building will not only serve as the home for the Arts Council’s administrative offices, but will also have room for a community arts center, a gallery, black box theater, rooftop reception space and a collaborative work space spread out across three floors. The monthly arts market might be moved to the new building; currently, it is held next to the Red Stick Farmers Market.

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The new location will be twice as large as the Arts Council’s current downtown home at 427 Laurel St.

HOTEL OCCUPANCY: Visit Baton Rouge's Alford said year-to-date the occupancy rate for downtown hotels is 53.6%,  well ahead of the 31.7% rate for COVID-19-marred 2020. The numbers this year are slightly better than in 2019's 52.3% rate.

But hotels aren’t seeing much of a financial boost. The average daily rate charged by downtown hotels this year is $114, well below the 2019 average daily rate of $127 and the 2020 rate of $126.

Alford said she’s optimistic about upcoming events, such as the 44 riverboats who will call on Baton Rouge before the end of the year. And the Marucci World Series, which features some of the top baseball players between the ages of 17 and under, will be held starting July 24. The tournament was canceled last year because of the pandemic. More than 125 teams will participate in this year’s tournament. The opening ceremonies will be held at Alex Box Stadium and games will be played at LSU and Southern University.

MILLENNIUM PROJECT: The American Millennium Project is a national educational initiative that teaches local history to high school and college students.

The nonprofit works with tourism agencies and historical societies to develop bus tours that teach local history. A bus tour has been developed for downtown.

The AMP is set to launch clubs in all 64 parishes this fall.


Email Timothy Boone at tboone@theadvocate.com.