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ArtPlace Grants to Provide Money for Treme Music School, Arts Center and St. Claude Programs
by Mary-Devon Dupuy
Just a little over a week after the legislature decided to cut our state’s arts budget tremendously, the artsy community of the Crescent City needs some good news. It couldn’t be a better time for ArtPlace, a newly founded collaboration of 11 major national and regional foundations, to decide to grant St. Claude Main Street and Civic Center a $275,000 grant.
Art Place is a joint effort between public and private organizations, including the National Endowment for the Arts. The money they’re donating will go towards three projects: St. Claude Main Street, the Bell School, and the Jazz and Heritage Foundation.
The Jazz and Heritage Foundation will turn a currently unused 19th century building, previously a funeral home, into a tuition-free music school. Art Place Director Carol Coletta told No Def more about what makes this projects transformative.
“It’s positioned on a street that’s transitional. It sits between the Quarter and Treme. It has a bridging location," she said. "The fact that it is next door to the existing center is important. It gives them a chance to grow their activity at that location and provide them with services.”
Coletta said that the the new center is going to have seven classrooms for music instruction, a 200 seat flexible performance space, and a transition space that will be used for events and parking. The Director believes that the Don Jamison Heritage School of Music will “make the neighborhood safer.”
“The buildings aren’t connected but the properties are connected. If you think about classrooms, in some ways, classrooms end up generating a lot of traffic. Not only do people serve in the classrooms but the families as well. It has quite a leveraging effect.”
Coletta also said that the school will “allow the school to double enrollment and offer a more comprehensive curriculum.”
Art Place is also transforming Treme’s currently nonfunctioning Bell School, which Coletta describes as “one of the most magnificent pieces of property you’d ever want to find,” into live-work spaces for artists and their families.
There will be “workshop and performance spaces on the first floor. If you see the property and see it sitting there very, very vacant at the moment and imagine it coming to life 24/7, you instantly see the impact it will have on the neighborhood.”
St. Claude Main Street, in partnership with Civic Center and various community stakeholders, will develop programming to help support the contemporary art community of St. Claude Avenue.
The goals of the program are to help build capacity for artists, arts organizations, and galleries and promote the arts district as a center for international contemporary art. Any program that comes out of this grant to help with those goals will be decided by the downtown arts community, said St. Claude Main Street's Michael T. Martin. To that end, SCMS will hold a meeting at HomeSpace Gallery on June 28 to directly engage the local art community. Martin called the process a "grassroots," in which ideas come directly from the community.
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