New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Center

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation, Inc.

Funding Received: 2012
New Orleans, LA
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
December 30, 2013

Post-bop saxophone wizard Kenny Garrett will perform at the upcoming MLK Jazz Journey concert

Since there is little to no snow with which to contend, construction in New Orleans continues year-round. Our construction crew is still out at the Jazz & Heritage Center, working through winter to have it completed by summer 2014. They’ve begun pouring the concrete foundation for the back performance space. This time next year, we’ll be enjoying the sounds of a holiday concert coming from the hall. For now, hammering and drilling make up our soundtrack for December. That hasn’t stopped us from planning several upcoming shows in venues around town. In January, in honor of Martin Luther King Day, we’ll be hosting the Kenny Garrett Quintet at Dillard University. We also have a concert featuring Jack DeJohnette, Joe Lovano, Esperanza Spalding, and Leo Genovese at the Civic Theater in February.

Recent Wins
-- We’re happy to announce that the Ella West Freeman Foundation has provided a grant of $115,000 to the project. It’s an extremely generous gift and, furthermore, it’s encouraging to have the backing of one of the city’s oldest and most well known family foundations.

-- The TV show Treme aired the first episode of its fourth season on Nov. 27th. The episode covers Barack Obama’s 2008 election and part of it was filmed right across the street from our offices. It was disorienting to see McCain/Palin and Obama/Biden signs out there a few months ago but good to see the neighborhood getting such extensive – and well-crafted – exposure.

-- The city of New Orleans just got some great exposure via a New York Times article covering the city’s restaurant scene since Katrina. A description of the newly opened Marti’s, located just a few blocks from the Jazz & Heritage Center, gives some insight into the evolving character of Rampart Street:

“Marti’s … is on a languishing stretch of Rampart Street that divides the French Quarter from the Treme, the neighborhood made familiar by the HBO show named after it. But five performing arts venues have reopened nearby, and a new streetcar line will soon extend down Rampart. If anything, that will bring still more restaurants.”

-- And in more good press, New Orleans was named one of 33 Resilient Cities by the Rockefeller Foundation and one of the top places to visit in 2014 by National Geographic.

The wisdom on capital projects is that they always take longer than expected, and they always take more money than expected. Both of these things have been true for us, mostly due to a severe asbestos problem that not even the experts anticipated. Since we’re a larger organization with offices that are separate from the construction site, we’re doing ok. I wonder how smaller organizations that would like to have their own space might mitigate the risks associated with capital projects. One possible solution in a city like New Orleans is a consortium of groups in a particular field—whether that’s theater or dance or music or a hybrid—collaborating to create a space for multiple smaller organizations to share and benefit. This creates a literal space for collaborative programming and lessens the burden on any one group’s finances while still allowing each group to maintain its distinct character.