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Monday, October 11, 2010 - Memorial Senior Vice President Named Citizen of the Arts for 2010

Leif Pedersen, senior vice president of philanthropy at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital, was named Citizen of the Arts for 2010 when the City of Lake Charles honored artists, arts and cultural organizations, community members, and corporate patrons for their arts and cultural contributions with the annual Mayor’s Arts Awards.

Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach presented the awards during a recent ceremony hosted by the Arts and Humanities Council of Southwest Louisiana, the umbrella organization representing individual artists and cultural non-profit organizations across the Imperial Calcasieu Region.

During his presentation, Mayor Roach commended Pedersen for having…“brought peace of mind and comfort to patients through the establishment of the Foundation’s Art for the Soul program. Over the past year and a half, more than 200 pieces of art from 14 Southwest Louisiana artists have been amassed and now hang permanently throughout Lake Charles Memorial Hospital. In addition to being an astounding community leader, one of Leif’s passions is music, which gave him the upper hand in connecting the art and business worlds within the hospital.”

In his “past life” Pedersen traveled throughout the U.S. and abroad as the featured vocalist with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra for more than 6 years and had his own night club act for an additional 8 years.  In 1998 he was inducted into the Southeastern Louisiana University Music Hall of Fame, and he currently leads his own 14-piece orchestra, The 1944 Big Band.

Tasked with reestablishing The Foundation at Memorial and fulfilling its mission to raise funds for capital needs, endowments, special programs and support of community efforts, Pedersen kicked off his philanthropic efforts with White Linen Night, an evening of music, food and festivity in downtown Lake Charles. He also invited several artists to display their work, including a local photographer. Impressed with the images, Leif said he thought it would be a great addition to the hospital’s Oncology wing, and the photographer replied that he’d always felt his art should be on view to help patients in the healing process.

Art in the hospital looked to be a perfect complement to the Foundation’s First Monday in the Atrium, a free concert in the hospital atrium featuring local musicians, which Pedersen had previously launched. “Music is a healing agent,” Pedersen proclaims. “It truly lifts the spirit of all who attend the series.”

Once the photographer agreed to contribute to Art for the Soul, Pedersen approached other local artists—who joined without hesitation. There were three key elements that Pedersen believes encouraged them all to participate: “They liked the idea that their art would help others in the healing process; this would be a “permanent gallery” where their art would be on exhibit for a very large audience of patients, their families, staff and physicians; and the Foundation offered to pick up the expenses of the framing so that they would not be out of pocket.”

As Citizen of the Arts, Pedersen was recognized for his creative contributions and his willingness to support the efforts of artists throughout the community.

“The Mayor’s Arts Awards is a perfect opportunity to pay tribute to the multi-talented individual artists and cultural organizations that make Southwest Louisiana the rich, creative epicenter that it is—as well as the businesses that continually support this thriving industry. The cultural economy is the second largest contributor to state employment,” Matt Young, executive director of the Arts and Humanities Council, explained. “Every dollar spent by the state produces an economic powerhouse return of $18 on the investment.”

Others honoured at the Mayor’s Arts Awards were, Julie Dallas, Arts Educator of the Year; Candice Alexander, Artist of the Year; The American Press Foundation, Citizen of the Humanities; Fox29/CW, Corporate Patron of the Year; Associated Louisiana Artists, Cultural Organization of the Year; and Shelly Appleby, Keystone Award.


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