Wendell Pierce, native son to New Orleans, accomplished television and film actor and stage personality, is counting down the days before he delivers a keynote message during IAVM’s VenueConnect from July 27-30 in Pierce’s home town.
When Pierce is not appearing in HBO’s Treme, he is busy helping revitalize communities in New Orleans, specifically the region around Pontchartrain Park. He also recently opened his first Sterling Farms grocery store in an area where quality and healthy produce and food is hard to get.
Facility Manager magazine recently interviewed Pierce about the above topics as well as his appearance before the IAVM audience in New Orleans. Here are some excerpts from the article that will appear in the June/July issue of the magazine.
On his message at VenueConnect: “I want to deliver a message of how important culture and community are and the presentation of both. It has always been a part of the human experience whether you are one of the patrons at the Globe when Shakespeare was doing his thing or at Fillmore West when Billy Graham in the ‘60s was presenting Jimi Hendrix and people had seminal moments that they tied to venues.”
“That’s the reason we turn down the lights and turn up the stage, so we can actually experience something collectively that will have an impact on how we reflect on our journey here together as a community, not just as an individual.”
On the importance of revitalizing Pontchartrain Park, where he oversees a community development corporation: “Pontchartrain Park is historic because it was the only place during the ugly time of segregation where African-Americans could actually purchase a home in post-World War II in America. Because of a civil rights advocacy push, this was set aside for African-Americans and it became an incubator of talent, including our first black mayor, a Grammy Award winner and jazz musician and so many more.”
On the opening of Sterling Farms, a grocery store offering fresh produce and healthy food in a community underserved for such: “People just didn’t have access to a decent grocery store. As I did my investigation where other companies saw risk I saw reward and an opportunity to do good for a community in need.”
On the role of art playing out in public assembly venues: “That’s the reason we turn down the lights and turn up the stage, so we can actually experience something collectively that will have an impact on how we reflect on our journey here together as a community, not just as an individual.”