2018 Bright Lights Awards Gala

May 10, 2018 @ 6:00PM — 9:00PM

Bright Lights Annual Humanities Awards Dinner Tickets are available, as are event sponsorship opportunities. Please consider making a donation to the LEH in honor of the awardees and their wonderful work.

Purchase tickets early! Last year's event was sold out.

There are currently no tickets available for this event, but you can still make a donation.

The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities invites you to an evening filled with celebration and performance, in recognition of the people and organizations that make our state shine! In partnership with Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, we will honor culinary giant and civil rights icon Leah Chase as the 2018 Humanist of the Year.

The Bright Lights in the Humanities awards are peer-juried awards given annually to recognize individuals and organizations making invaluable contributions to the culture of Louisiana.

Donations in Honor of Awardees - To make a donation in honor of an awardee, please click the "Donate" button on the right of this page. For assistance with a donation, please call 504.620.2482.


Thursday, May 10, 2018

6:00 p.m. Invitation Only Patron Party

7:00 p.m. Silent Auction, Award Ceremony and Dinner

Cocktail Attire

Planning to enjoy New Orleans after the celebration? Reserve a room at the Lafayette Hotel for the special group rate of $89 (taxes and fees not included for May 10th). Additional nights are offered at the standard rate of $161 per night. Reserve your room by April 20th by visiting LafayetteHotelNewOrleans.com and using the code LEH18 at checkout or by calling 800-366-2743 and request the discounted rate for the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities.


Humanist of the Year Leah Chase, known as the "Queen of Creole Cuisine," served as Executive Chef of Dooky Chase's Restaurant in New Orleans, she has fed presidents and young activists, world leaders and famous musicians. The restaurant served as a hive of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, and remains a landmark for visiting dignitaries. She has testified before Congress to lobby for greater funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, and authored several popular cookbooks, including The Dooky Chase Cookbook, And Still I Cook, and Leah Chase: Listen, I Say Like This. Chase has received many awards, including multiple awards from the NAACP, the New Orleans Times‐Picayune 1997 Loving Cup Award, the Weiss Award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews, and the Outstanding Woman Award from the National Council of Negro Women. She also serves on many boards, including the Arts Council of New Orleans, the New Orleans Museum of Art, and the Urban League.

Lifetime Contribution to the Humanities

Mary Lou Christovich was a tireless preservationist, author, historian and philanthropist who played a leading role in founding and nurturing many local preservation groups.

Ben Sandmel has devoted his career to championing Louisiana's traditional music and culture. Sandmel has written books about New Orleans R&B, and zydeco, contributed articles to leading magazines and academic anthologies, produced and played drums on a Grammy-nominated Cajun/country album, and conducted extensive fieldwork around the state, researching both Louisiana's indigenous music and the folklore of riverboats. Since 1996 Sandmel has produced the oral history and interview venue, known as the Music Heritage Stage, at the annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

Chair's Institutional Award goes to two foundations or individuals that have made visionary investments for long-term systemic change and lasting impact in family literacy.

Rosemary and Randy Ewing are pillars of long‐term support for the humanities in Louisiana. Rosemary served on the Board of the LEH for more than two decades and Randy served in the state legislature from 1988–2000, the last four years as the President of the Senate. Not only generous with their time, effort, and advocacy, the Ewings have been staunch financial supporters of numerous charities, including major support for the LEH. Louisiana has benefited from their passion and focus on early childhood intervention in education and health.

Champion of Culture Award Roger Ogden has made a monumental mark on the cultural landscape of Louisiana. Among his major efforts are the construction of the Aquarium of the Americas and the Woldenberg Park; the restoration of the state Supreme Court and the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal in the French Quarter; and establishment of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art as well as the Roger Hadfield Ogden Honors College at LSU.

Humanities Books Award The LEH recognizes two outstanding works of history as 2018 Books of the Year. Krazy: George Herriman, a Life in White and Black (Harper) by Michael Tisserand masterfully traces Herriman's remarkable rise as a comic genius. The Thibodaux Massacre: Racial Violence and the 1887 Sugar Cane Labor Strike (The History Press) by John DeSantis uses correspondence, interviews and federal records to detail this harrowing true story.

Humanities Documentary Film Award Produced by Christina Melton, Deeply Rooted: John Coykendall's Journey to Save our Seeds and Stories presents the story of a renowned heirloom seed saver and his passion for preserving the seeds and stories of a small Louisiana farming community in Washington Parish. www.lpb.org

Michael P. Smith Memorial Award for Documentary Photography A dedicated and accomplished photographer, LSU Professor Jeremiah Ariaz's work reflects an artist profoundly committed to an authentic vision, one influenced by and, in many ways, led by the indigenous power of Louisiana's distinct cultural and historical attributes.

Light Up for Literacy Award Sisters of the Holy Family have dedicated themselves to educating under-served and under-privileged populations since the order's inception 175 years ago.

Museum Exhibition of the Year Storyville: Madams and Music, an exhibition of The Historic New Orleans Collection, revives the sights and sounds of New Orleans's former red-light district a century after its closing. The exhibition encourages a better understanding of the music, people, and businesses that shaped the complicated legacies of Storyville. This is the inaugural Museum of the Year award.

Event Location

Arbor Room at Popp Fountain in City Park
30 Zachary Taylor Dr.
New Orleans, LA 70124

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