BAYarts' Mardi Gras to benefit renovations

The Zydeco Kings will be playing at the BAYarts Mardi Gras on March 2.

If you can't make it to New Orleans this February, BAYarts has a Mardi Gras party you'll want to attend. Born out of talks between Pam Mills (BAYarts Special Projects) and Scott Pohlkamp (BAYarts board member) the event is scheduled for Saturday, March 2.

"Scott Pohlkamp has always enjoyed hosting Mardi Gras parties," explains Mills. "He thought it would be a fun late-winter event at BAYarts, giving guests the opportunity to experience the newly renovated Phase One of the former Playhouse."

Mills has planned both good food and live music, with a few other surprises. "The Zydeco Kings will set the scene with their 'kick up your heels' Louisiana inspired music. Our MC Scott Pohlkamp will be leading a famous Second Line parade. Matt Ullom of Sweet Melissa is providing a New Orleans inspired menu including Chicken Andouille Jambalaya ... vegetarian choices included. Masks will be included or bring your own masterpiece!"

Meanwhile, Pohlkamp is also bringing his energy and enthusiasm to the event. "Since I moved here from Louisiana, it's always been a challenge to find a zydeco band and a good Mardi Gras party. We are doing both! We're going to create an authentic N'awlins French Quarter atmosphere with food, music, beads and masks – just bring a smile. Laissez les bons temps rouler – let the good times roll!"

The money raised from the fundraiser will go toward more renovations of the former Playhouse. BAYarts general manager and Playhouse project manager Beth Milli grew up in Bay Village and says, "It's inspiring to see the old Playhouse come to life in a whole new way." There are 12,000 square feet in the building, which means there is a lot of room for growth in terms of classrooms and event space.

"The expansion continues on," shares BAYarts Executive Director Nancy Heaton. "Future phases include the west-end barn, an exterior deck overlooking Porter Creek and modern improvements to the facade."

Included in Phase One was an overhaul of the entire electrical system, a new fire alarm and a sprinkler system addition. The front entrance, bathrooms and Hearth Room were all renovated.

"Phase One opened on schedule in January with a diverse offering of classes including jewelry making, fabric art, painting and writing classes," shares Milli. "The Hearth Room, once used as a place for theater patrons to enjoy refreshments during intermission, just needed a little BAYarts magic to realize its full potential. Windows were added to either side of the large stone fireplace and drywall hung to add light and warmth to the room. Students love the new space and can't wait for spring to enjoy the adjacent patio that overlooks the park valley and Porter Creek. It's a unique space that's sure to inspire creativity for years to come."

Heaton has said that she will be announcing a town hall gathering this spring to share the latest ongoing plans and get more community feedback. Through it all, she says a partnership of the shared area remains strong. "BAYarts continues to work closely with Cleveland Metroparks on the overall footprint of the campus, connecting the building through green space and natural elements."

Used both as a classroom and event space, the new Hearth Room was recently used for the BAYarts SOUPer Bowl event. It will be the same space used for Mardi Gras, providing plenty of room for the band, food and the party goers.

Tickets for the "fun-raiser" are $55 each and are available at

Jessica Stockdale

Jessica Stockdale is the Marketing Manager at BAYarts.

BAYarts is a cultural arts campus that features education, exhibition and events. 

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Volume 11, Issue 4, Posted 9:59 AM, 02.19.2019