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
March 26, 2013

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation is the non-profit owner of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. The Foundation directs revenues from the Festival and other fund-raising activities into the cultural economy of southeast Louisiana. Its biggest project to date is the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Center, a 12,500 square foot building that will house a music school, performance hall, and meeting room for community activities. The 19th-century building will undergo complete renovation – historic details will be preserved where possible and upgrades will be made for safety, sustainability, and energy efficiency. ArtPlace spoke with Executive Director Don Marshall about the project and its life after the grant cycle, which ends June 30th.

ARTPLACE: How will the work you've begun be sustained after your ArtPlace grant?

Don Marshall: In terms of funding we’ve built sustainability into our capital campaign plans. Of the $8 million we expect to raise through the campaign, $3 million will be placed in endowment funds providing for the building’s integrity and to offset the costs of increased programming that the building will allow. Our $2 million building sustainability endowment will let us replace the roof, paint the exterior, upgrade the intercom system, etc., as needed without becoming a strain on our operating budget. The $1 million program enhancement fund will provide the resources necessary to grow our Heritage School of Music and to add new educational programs that make use of the new space.

ARTPLACE: Have new options for sustainability emerged during the grant period?

Don Marshall: In terms of programming, we’ve had some great news surrounding the city’s public transportation system. The Rampart Streetcar line is scheduled to begin construction this year. This will bring hundreds of people right to our front door and will unite the city’s uptown and downtown sections. The streetcar will start on Canal Street, which is home to many hotels, and end about a mile up the road at Elysian Fields. There is already significant cultural developments happening in this stretch, and the streetcar will make them that much more sustainable. We expect that our activities will draw people – both in and out-of-towners – who want to interact with the culture and heritage of New Orleans through lecture, classes, and smaller performances. I have great optimism for the impact that the Center can have on people’s awareness about native New Orleans art forms and the streetcar can increase that impact considerably.

ARTPLACE: Will this work live beyond the grant period? How has this work affected the work you will do beyond the grant period?

Don Marshall: The work we are preparing to do in the Jazz & Heritage Center will most certainly extend long beyond the end of the grant period. Even at this early phase of construction, we are looking at ways to make the Center more than just a Jazz & Heritage Foundation asset. We want the whole community to benefit. Along those lines, we have started to think about a city-wide arts education master plan. There are a lot of great arts ed programs in New Orleans but we’re not nearly as in sync with each other as we could be. We see the Jazz & Heritage Center as a catalyst for convening a consortium of arts education stakeholders and we’re excited to see where that will lead.