When Arlene Meraux founded the Arlene and Joseph Meraux Charitable Foundation, she asked her niece Rita to manage it with a simple guiding principle: to ensure that the land resources that Arlene transferred to the Foundation would be used to improve the quality of life in St. Bernard.
To advance this mission, the Meraux Foundation has partnered with St. Claude Arts the artistic team of Erica and Mitchell Gaudet, to develop a two block stretch of vacant and underused properties along St. Claude Avenue into St. Claude Arts, an “art campus” that will include studios, galleries, artist residences, and a theatre.
The Meraux Foundation has assembled the properties as a public interest project to accelerate the growth of the Old Arabi Cultural District. These properties are being leased to St. Claude Arts, which will operate the properties sublease spaces to artists of all types to populate the campus.
Borrowing from creative placemaking approaches, the project will leverage arts and culture as a driver for economic development and enhanced livability in the parish. St. Claude Arts will create a new destination for current residents and visitors, attract new homeowners, and increase commerce in St. Bernard.