When Shreveport Regional Arts Council approached James and Louise Burton about an exhibition spotlighting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame guitarist, the goal was more than just providing a fascinating look at a famous native son.

It’s also a way to build interest in the permanent museum the Burtons would like to build across from the Municipal Auditorium, part of the vision for Shreveport Common, a public/private revitalization of the long-blighted area at the western edge of downtown into a thriving arts and cultural neighborhood.

“We have been closely aligned and interested in the James Burton guitar and antique museum, which we think will be a cornerstone of Shreveport Common and needed to happen sooner rather than later,” SRAC Executive Director Pam Atchison said.

“James and Louise get invited to do so many things, so we thought maybe we could jumpstart the community conversation about the importance of this museum by doing a sampling of the guitars that James has at artspace.”

With property and plans for the 10,000-square-foot guitar and classic car museum already in hand, the next hurdle is raising approximately $4.5 million to bring it to life. “In an ideal world, this exhibit will spawn the interest that will end up being financial interest in building the museum,” Atchison said.

“The main obstacle seems to be money and the way we do things in Shreveport is there always seems to be a lead private donor who would come forward. I believe the Burtons feel there are several people in the music industry who would get behind them and who have performed with James before and all they would have to do is reach out. But I definitely think that the goal is to do something over time — it’s a 12-week exhibition — that gives people a chance to come in and really see that this is the tip of the iceberg in terms of what James has to share with our community.”

Downtown Development Authority Deputy Director Janie Landry, who is also the chair of both the James Burton Foundation and the International Guitar Festival, believes the museum would be an asset for Shreveport Common, downtown Shreveport and the Shreveport community due to Burton’s fans from around the world.

“The foundation office is already a draw to visitors who come to the Municipal Auditorium. Tourists love to see the Elvis and Burton statues and are thrilled that James has a studio just across the street. The museum will be another attraction for locals and visitors alike.”