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Jackie Lyle, Executive Director of PASA -Performing Arts Serving Acadiana

Discover Lafayette

1h
Explicit
82.7 MB
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Jackie Lyle, Executive Director of Performing Arts Serving Acadiana, known as “PASA,” joins Discover Lafayette to discuss the organization’s mission to provide local access to great performing arts.

Jackie has worked tirelessly over the past three decades to bring unique arts programming to Acadiana. She is a passionate spokesperson for the many ways art impacts our economy, from hiring people in transportation, printing, recording, and sound, live musicians, costumers, etc. “It’s vital that this industry recovers. We have got to be in venues and selling tickets” to thrive and survive.

A native of Oberlin, Louisiana, Jackie moved to Lafayette at seven years of age and followed the stereotypical path of a young girl in the 70s. She had always loved dancing, playing the piano, and being a band member; while she loved the arts, Jackie says she never had the confidence to pursue a career as a professional performer so she graduated in Psychology from LSU. She never intended to work, but to be a wife and mother. However, upon returning home from college, her dad said, “Jackie, you need a job with health benefits!”

Always the dutiful daughter, Jackie followed her dad’s advice and became a Clairol account executive, which gave her great sales training, and the opportunity to learn the ropes of business activities.

Her next career move landed her in a full-time job as an account executive with the Times of Acadiana, a start-up periodical. She had the opportunity to work with James Edmunds, Steve May, and Richard Baudoin, all well-known names in the publishing business in this region. Jackie credits this position with helping her understand how the government and community forces worked, and the management team constantly challenged her to do new things and spread her wings. By the end of her tenure with the Times of Acadiana, she led a sales team, had her own publication, and wrote a weekly column for the Times. She was ready to fly successfully on her own.

At that time, in the early 1980s, Lafayette’s art scene was enriched by the productions presented by the Fine Arts Foundation which began in 1975. The non-profit brought in such renowned artists as Ella Fitzgerald, Rudolph Nureyev, and Gregory Hines. But with the oil and gas bust of the late 1980s, the Heymann Center closing for renovations, and the failure of the organization to pay its taxes, the Fine Arts Foundation folded and filed for bankruptcy in the late 1980s.

From this aftermath, PASA (originally known as the “Performing Arts Society of Acadiana”) emerged under the helm of Jackie Lyle. Jackie looked back with pride on the impact that her work has had over the years, including having PASA hired to help with the opening of the Manship Theatre in Baton Rouge and the Grand Opera House of the South in Crowley.

“PASA’s goal is to provide local access to great performing arts. That is our #1 goal. Great performing arts you can attend locally is what makes a community great. This does not mean sold-out performances or making “x” amount of money. Our mission is local access. When we are able to return to daytime performances for local students, that will be the most important thing that we can do. So many kids never have the opportunity to step foot in the Heymann. That is a transformative experience as many kids have never seen a grand piano played. We also now have a trailer that will be our local stage to bring performances into neighborhoods. As soon as cold weather ends, we’ll be going into three different neighborhoods.”

PASA has also commissioned new works, which means supporting the creation of original performances of song and dance by providing direction and financing. PASA’s first such work involved telling the story of the settlement of the first Acadians in our region. This pivotal work is still actively touring after more than 27 years. PASA is currently working on a new piece of commissioned work which will premiere in Denver on September 16, 2022, and then be performed in Lafayette next season.

One current dream of Jackie’s is to see the fruition of a commissioned piece to be created by the great Elizabeth Streb to tell one of the biggest civil rights stories in Lafayette’s history, the story of Beryl Shipley, the basketball coach of the USL from 1966 to 1972. Coach Shipley brought in black players when NCAA didn’t approve of the practice. He was hit with more than 100 NCAA recruiting violations and he eventually stepped down.

Jackie Lyle is looking forward to finalizing a commissioned work to be produced by Elizabeth Streb that features Beryl Shipley, the Basketball coach at USL from 1966 to 1972. Coach Shipley brought in black players when the NCAA didn’t approve of the practice. Shipley was hit with more than 100 NCAA recruiting violations and he eventually stepped down. Ms. Shreb is a choreographer that uses acrobatics and “lots of engineered structures.” It is a $475,000 project that Jackie believes is realistically attainable; it will enrich our community once the story becomes alive at the Blackham Coliseum where Shipley’s team played to sold-out crowds and whose games featured triple-digit scores.

The first artistic endeavor of PASA to be showcased this year is Tango Fire on February 8, 2022, at the Heymann Performing Arts Center. It will be held for one night and features five couples who are world champions accompanied by the best dancers from Buenos Aires’ famous tango houses and Latin musicians.

The first artistic endeavor of PASA to be showcased this year is Tango Fire on February 8, 2022, at the Heymann Performing Arts Center. It will be held for one night and features five couples who are world champions accompanied by the best dancers from Buenos Aires’ famous tango houses and Latin musicians.

On March 31, 2022, Black Angels Over Tuskegee will be performed at the Heymann Performing Center. The performance is one of the longest-running productions held Off-Broadway telling the story of six men embarking on a journey to become the first Black aviators in the U. S. Army Air Force. Layon Gray, a UL-Lafayette graduate in Theatre, was the force behind this piece, having interviewed the airman of the day about the struggles Black soldiers faced during a time of deep racial segregation. . In conjunction with this performance, three lectures will be put on for those interested in hearing more.

Lafayette LA has fourteen venues for live performances, including high schools such as Comeaux, Lafayette and Southside, Baranco Elementary, Judice Middle, Lafayette Middle, Cite Des Arts, theatres on UL-Lafayette campus, and Wonderland Performing Arts. Jackie’s forte has been to master the business end of performing arts, and she shared that seating capacity is critical in keeping a production afloat. To project a budget at the Heymann Center, as an example, PASA must sell 60% of the seating, about 1200 seats, to make a profit.

Tickets for all PASA performances may be purchased online at www.pasaonline.org. Or call Jackie Lyle at (337)781-1273 for more information.

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