September Young Professional Spotlight
Meet Jason Andreasen
Occupation: Executive Director
Organization: Baton Rouge Gallery – Center for Contemporary Art
Hometown: Miami, FL
Tell us a little about your Baton Rouge Story. What brought you to Baton Rouge?
Originally, I came to Baton Rouge to pursue law school at LSU. My wife and I got married, enjoyed our honeymoon, and moved to Baton Rouge two days before Katrina hit, not really knowing anyone here. Then, my one connection left the state because of the storm. After a while I started writing articles on bands, artists, actors, comedians, and cultural events. One night, having interviewed George Clinton of Parliament Funkadelic, I realized I didn’t want to go to law school anymore. I’d discovered a passion for helping creative people do what they do and helping others experience it. Within six months I’d joined the staff at Baton Rouge Gallery.
Tell us more about how you’re involved in Baton Rouge.
My position at Baton Rouge Gallery keeps me involved in the arts and cultural scene locally, which is only getting better. As a result, I’ve had the opportunity to advocate for sustainable arts funding before the state legislature, spoken with groups like The Rotary Club of Baton Rouge about the impact of art on the workplace, and helped start a nationally-recognized annual exhibition (“Surreal Salon”) that has brought the work of hundreds of artists to our city over the past nine years. I’ve also had the good fortune to lend a hand, to at least some small degree, with The Walls Project, Forum 35’s Art Melt, and the annual Hunks in Heels event that benefits The Sexual Trauma and Awareness Response Center (STAR), among others.
What is your favorite thing about Baton Rouge?
The people. Is that cheesy? Sure. But when we first moved here, the very day we moved in, a neighbor brought us a homemade pie. I realize that sounds commonplace to some, but that was alien to me at the time and really made an impression. In the years since, I have seen and experienced exceptional kindness and warmth from so many here.
What is your dream for Baton Rouge?
My dream for Baton Rouge would be for it to build on the bright spots of a 200-year foundation and infuse more contemporary flair and thinking. We’re the capital of one of America’s most unique states with great food, a longstanding blues tradition, the state’s flagship university, and more. Add to that an eye to the future with respect to urban planning and the arts – to name just two – and we’ll have a city that is distinct, diverse, and ready for its next 200 years to be its best.
How are young professionals like yourself shaping Baton Rouge?
What I enjoy about many of the young professionals in Baton Rouge right now is how they’re attacking things head on. Whether you’re talking about the culinary scene, urban planning, outdoor festivals, or any number of other areas, there are energetic people challenging the idea that something can’t be done or that things have to be done the way they’d been done before. That willingness to try new things (or old things in new ways), balanced with a desire to make Baton Rouge more just, more self-aware, more enjoyable, or more beautiful is what I find so exciting.
What would you say to someone considering a move to Baton Rouge?
Welcoming people with different experiences – from different places and backgrounds – into our city expands the limits for it. There’s so much more to Baton Rouge than it’s given credit for, sometimes even by those who call it home. Foodies, film buffs, runners, and art lovers – and everyone in between – can find something here. You can watch your kid play in BREC’s award-winning park system during the day and watch a great band play at a place like Spanish Moon at night. Enjoy what Baton Rouge has to offer and consider what you can offer to make it even better.
What is your Baton Rouge favorite?
- Place to eat: Driftwood Cask & Barrel, or wherever Chef Sean Rivera is
- Place to hang out: Radio Bar
- Place to capture the perfect Instagram pic: The Museum of Public Art
- Place to people watch: The BR Blues Festival
- Place to network: Art openings at The Glassell Gallery in downtown Baton Rouge
- Way to give back: Show up. Seriously, depending on the situation, many times just showing up can be an underestimated form of support
- Event: Despite my bias, I’ll say the Surreal Salon Soiree
With significant job growth, a bustling arts scene, delectable cuisine, abundant outdoor activities and more, the Capital Region attracts talent of all ages, including young professionals. Whether straight out of college or looking to establish their own business, more and more young professionals are choosing to put down roots in Baton Rouge.
Each month, BRAC highlights one of these Baton Rouge Area movers and shakers in the Young Professional Spotlight.