Trailblazer | Culture
Four times a year, Lafayette’s Acadiana Symphony Orchestra comes to New Iberia for a free public concert. The concerts, which cost $16,000 to $20,000 each to produce, are sponsored by the Iberia Cultural Resources Association and funded by individual and corporate donations. As president of the association, Cathy Indest is the driving force behind the concerts, as well as other activities of the group.
The Iberia Cultural Resources Association was founded in 1969, but it was inactive for many years until Indest revitalized it in 2006. Today, there are more than 365 dues-paying members of the organization. One of the group’s projects has been the installation of 21 bronze markers in downtown New Iberia to commemorate historic buildings, sites and events. Another 11 markers will be installed this year. The information on the markers is in English, Spanish and French.
In conjunction with the Bayou Teche Museum and Shadows-on-the-Teche, the Association sponsors New Iberia Beneath the Balconies, featuring a variety of dramatic and musical productions performed on the balconies of Main Street buildings. For the occasion, Main Street is turned into a pedestrian mall and the audience, many of whom bring folding chairs, moves from one performance to the next.
Books Along the Teche Literary Festival is another event sponsored by the three entities. This year’s festival, which is Friday, March 31 to Sunday, April 2, features a variety of speakers, panels and workshops, as well as a number of tours and social events. Past festivals have attracted guests from 14 states and three countries. The Iberia Cultural Resources Association also sponsors lectures and a project to collect oral histories from local residents. Some of the stories have been published as a book, and a second volume is planned.
In addition to her fundraising for the Iberia Cultural Resources Association, Indest has been active in raising money for the expansion of the Bayou Teche Museum and for special museum exhibits, such as the upcoming one honoring Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, who hailed from Iberia Parish.
When asked how a small town with a population of less than 30,000 is able to support so many cultural events, Indest lauds the generosity of New Iberia’s residents and businesses. For her community work, she has received a number of honorary awards, including New Iberia Citizen of the Year.