What is today the NUNU Arts and Culture Collective, was at first a 2005 business venture by visual artist George Marks and his nephew Jeremy Rivette. A means to create studio work space while establishing a venue for the promotion of local art. That it would become a generator of creative placemaking, a lodestone of Louisiana French language and culture, inspire a rural art movement and prove itself to be an economic development driver, was unseen and unexpected.

Marks and Rivette opened The Town Market gallery in 2005 on La 31, just south of the Bayous Teche and Fuselier junction. Within one year, works by 40 emerging artists are being sold to a growing audience of urban dwellers seeking new and culturally authentic venues. Area residents supporting the business seek to include activities and the Frederick l’Ecole des Arts nonprofit is created for development of educational opportunities furthering interests in art, culture and French Louisiana language.

It is here, among the raku pottery, ting and tang of vibrantly colored glass mobiles, numerous paintings, furniture art and cedar sculptures, that town residents and artists meet for lunch every second Tuesday and brainstorm together for ways to promote their emerging art community. - “Portrait of Success,” Louisiana Life magazine, Spring 2007.

Ever adapting to the wants and wishes of its supporters, The Town Market adds a kitchen and then a stage for performance. A monthly Potluck social features exhibiting artists, a monthly La Table Française (French table) reunites francophone speakers and a one-day festival, “Le Feu et l’Eau,” expands exhibition and performance opportunities to the many artists displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

At 137-years-old, Arnaudville has seen the ebb and flow of many, including early settlers heading west. Off the beaten path and with little in the way of historic buildings, this town of 502 households has struggled in recent years to tap into the cultural tourism industry that now bolsters Louisiana’s economy. Here at last is a product that’s drawing visitors while at the same time providing locals with both social and cultural opportunities – not to mention lots of fun. - “Portrait of Success,” Louisiana Life magazine, Spring 2007.

It is during these years that results are seen in the rapid expansion of events staged at and around the market: Bayou Blues Festival, Music of Acadiana Performance Series and Acadiana Irish Music Sessions. Then in 2010, it all literally ends in the heat of fire when on a July night, following a thunderstorm, the Town Market burns.

Marks says as devastating as the fire was to both Town Market and the community, this break in activity resulted in the time to step back and rethink directions. “The question before us was: ‘Should we try to recreate what was? Or define?’” he says. “An evaluation was conducted that resulted in four general areas of concentration: arts and culture, career development, education and sustainable development.” - Where Streams Meet,” Acadiana Profile magazine, October-November 2012

Along with deciding a direction, Marks chose to step back as owner of the business.The Frederick l’Ecole nonprofit that operated at the Town Market would be the new owner/operator and the name of that nonprofit would reflect the name most associated with the former facility: NUNU, a nickname belonging to Marks’ late father and assigned to the music stage at the Town Market. Local and area supporters who before came and helped, now step fully into the roles of organizers and shapers of programing.

That same year, Ann Markusen, Markusen Economic Research Services, and Anne Gadwa, Metris Arts Consulting, featured the collective as one of 14 examples nationwide of successful Creative Placemaking. The “White Paper for The Mayors' Institute on City Design,” a leadership initiative on the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the United States Conference of Mayors and American Architectural Foundation, awoke state and regional interest in NUNU collective that continues through today.

International exposure arrived the following year in 2011 when Béatrice Germaine-Marcella, Cultural Project Manager for the Consulat de France à La Nouvelle Orléans, attends a La Table Française and as a result initiates a partnership between the collective and the Consulate.

Mission Statement
The NUNU Collective is an educational nonprofit that works to encourage the development of artistic talents, skills, knowledge and business savvy by connecting artists with other artists, businesses, organizations and programs. It serves as a stage/platform/gallery for creative living by facilitating community, economic, and artistic/cultural development.

Why we do what we do
At the core of development is a dedication to fostering a living culture using a combination of art, music, dance and Louisiana French. Retaining authenticity is the central driving force.

How we do what we do
Responsiveness to community interests serves to shape programming: some successful, some not. Programing is furthered through partnership building that engages multiple partners representative of all sectors: for profit, nonprofit and government. Members and volunteers are empowered through leadership roles.

Where we do what we do
The collective is located on the site of the former Singleton Hardware and Lumber complex that includes a hardware store, lumber kiln, sweet potato kiln and barn, and which directly borders the rural Town of Arnaudville, population 1069, and within a postal service area of 15,000 households. Arnaudville, located 22 miles northeast of Lafayette, La., is a bi-parish community, sharing favor with both St. Landry and St. Martin parishes. It is a rural heart of Acadiana where bayous Teche and Fuselier meet. Its distance from the federal highway system contributes to area retention of spoken Louisiana French. All eight approaches to Arnaudville take you through a history filled scenic prairie. It is a place where Louisiana French culture today drives economy by drawing tourists, creatives and environmentalists to visit and to relocate. Four out of 10 residents still speak French on a daily basis.

We extend well beyond our local boundary lines
On a recommendation by French Consul Général Jean-Claude Brunet, a delegation headed by Jacques Arnaud Studies Director Mavis Fruge traveled to Redon, France in January 2012 and met with representatives of Les Articulteurs, a social-and-culture-based strategy proven to stimulate economic development through the utilization of artists and their innate creativity in tackling the challenges of unemployment. This meeting resulted in several 2013 cultural exchanges including the creation of an annual Semaine Francaise d’Arnaudville; Louisiana participation by artists and musicians in the Bogue d’Or, Redon; and the collaborative brewing of a new beer, “Bayoust,” between Bayou Teche Brewing in Arnaudville and Brasserie La Bambelle in St. Gravé. Also in partnership with Les Articulteurs, the 2014-15 traveling “Degrees of Separation” exhibition showcased new images by Breton and Louisiana photographers, painters and writers as artists took inspiration from each others’ works to create new.
Opening the collective doors to volunteer-tourism in 2015 began a flow of cultural exchange that continues to enriched through workaway.info and helpx.net. That same year, the NUNU collective hosted a special event for the 30+ mayors attending the annual Association Internationale des Maires Francophones conference; Semaine Francaise d’Arnaudville in 2015 fully embraced Creative Placemaking and became a summit for project generation; and in the fall welcomed artists from Haiti, Antigua and France who with NUNU Executive Director George Marks were part of a one month project that uses art as a means to encourage conversation about the Atlantic slave trade.
In 2016 French week was renamed so as to more fully reflect French language participation and the logo for “Semaine de la Francophonie Creative Placemaking Summit” was revealed as including a green border in recognition of Creole/Kreole inclusion. That event in 2018 partners with four Acadiana communities, including Lafayette and Festival International de Louisiane.

Our efforts are noticed
NUNU Arts and Culture Collective has proven itself an influential regional leader in the practices of Creative Placemaking. It is the recipient of a 2015 INNOV8 entrepreneurial award, was named a 2014 Louisiana Cultural Economy Hero, and by the AARP a 2012 "Great Places" in Louisiana.

The Louisiana Culture Connection in 2012 commended the Deux Bayous Cultural District (Arnaudville) for national recognition received through NUNU Arts and Culture Collective's selection as one of 14 examples cited in the prestigious Mayor's Institute on City Design, “Creative Placemaking White Paper" study.
In addition, awards honoring work and contributions by NUNU Arts and Culture Collective Board President and Executive Director George Marks include: 2017 ICON Cultural Economy,2017 ABiz Jillian Johnson Award for Entrepreneurship in the Cultural Economy, 2016 Foundation for Historical Louisiana Cultural Preservationist, 2008 Governor's Leadership in the Arts, and 2006 Opelousas-St. Landry Parish Chamber of Commerce's Entrepreneurial
No less notable are those honors and awards received by Mavis Frugé, NUNU collective Board Vice President and Director of Jacques Arnaud French Studies, which include: 2016 Acadian Museum Living Legend, France's 2015 Ordre des Palmes Academiques, 2013 Louisiana Culture Connection Prix de la Franco-Responsabilité, and 2009 Opelousas-St. Landry Parish Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year
About the Interim-Director

George Marks is a contemporary visual artist and social sculptor living and working in Arnaudville, La., George’s body of work, influenced by an innate appreciation for the natural and evolving world, includes collections of images reflective of textures, colors and surfaces experienced.

Although, not tied to one palette, many of his works include the subtle blues and greens of the land. Implementing unusual techniques and unusual media: oil, acrylic, resin, tar .. he allows his memories and materials to drive the creative process, resulting in a harmonious blend of imagination and action.

In 2013 he was invited to participate in a TOSTEM (French acronym for: Cultural Tourism through the footsteps of slavery) international artist-in residency. His multimedia work “2200,” the result of investigation into the history and effects of slavery, is currently part of a six-country (France, Haiti, Senegal, Cameroon, Antiqua, Louisiana) international exhibition.

Selected by the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area as an area artisan, Marks’ painting career is featured on its Website. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VmaMzb0e5_g
In addition to his visual work, Marks is a self-defined social sculptor and has been a seminal member of the creative community of Louisiana. He is a past member of the Louisiana State Arts Council and Louisiana Partnership for the Arts and is the founder of the NUNU Arts and Culture Collective.

Marks is considered a champion of the arts and culture in South Louisiana and has been an outspoken advocate for the development and promotion of the creative economy.

Marks’ work is included in a number of corporate and private collections nationally and internationally including: Oceania Cruise Line: Iberia Bank, La.; Piedmont Hospital, Georgia; and Duckworth Realty, Mississippi. His paintings have exhibited throughout Louisiana and in Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Redon, France; and have been featured in a number of art and design publications including New Orleans Homes & Lifestyles, House Beautiful, and Architectural Digest. His works are represented in seven galleries nationally.

He attended Louisiana State University, where he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art with a focus on painting and drawing.