Arts & Entertainment
In 1974 a group of interested citizens proposed to the Police Jury (later to be known as the Parish Council) that St. John the Baptist Parish needed a cultural center.
By 1975 the group had joined the 1976 Bicentennial Committee and had begun a publicity campaign seeking endorsements to convince the public of the need. By 1976 an official feasibility study had concluded that the parish did indeed need a cultural center. a referendum was put on the ballot for September 1978, but the center lost by 21 votes. The group members felt that with harder campaigning, the January 19, 1980 bond election could be won, but in the end, the proposal was soundly defeated.
Disappointed but not discouraged, the Cultural Center Committee went before the Parish Council to seek help in obtaining the Maurin Theatre (built in 1931), which the Louis J. Maurin family closed and offered for sale. By a unanimous vote, the Council voted to provide funds for the purchase of the building, the land, and the initial renovation costs. The facility was leased to the Cultural Center Committee on May 22, 1980.
Renovations began immediately, and St. John Theatre opened in July 1981 with the staging of the musical “South Pacific.” On July 7, 1982, the council designated the live-theater facility as “the Cultural and Civic Center of St. John the Baptist Parish.”
When funds ran out, the board members, many of them Reserve Lions Club members, signed bank loan papers, and the renovations were completed. Today the parish-owned facility is debt-free, generating its own revenues.
Dr. Jack Harvey was the first board president, and Jack S. Snowdy was named Managing Director in 1981. Other presidents over the years have included Malcolm Donaldson, Lucien Cambre, Greer Millet, Ralph Romaguera, Mike Brooks, and currently Sterling Snowdy. Crystal Faucheux serves as Managing Director.
In 1994 the Board of Directors, with the help of the Parish Council, purchased a 300-foot parking lot adjacent to the theater property.
Since its inception, the Mission of the theater has been to offer each child and adult of the community the opportunity to participate in, or be a spectator of, a series of fine arts activities offered during the year. It is a “Family Safe” center; it does not schedule performances which do not respect the dignity of others.