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It would be remiss to discuss the cultural significance of New Orleans without a mention of the Jazz & Heritage Foundation, the nonprofit that, most famously, owns the annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell. It also provides countless community programs and puts on smaller festivals that showcase various aspects of local culture, such as the Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival, Congo Square New World Rhythms Festival and the Louisiana Cajun-Zydeco Festival, among others. It also owns the beloved WWOZ radio station.

With humble beginnings that took root in 1970, the Foundation is now a driving force of education for the creative community of New Orleans and beyond, as people come from all over the world to experience its programs.

To that end, on Dec. 11, the nonprofit will celebrate the grand opening of its “new” facility, a stately, historic building in the musically rich Treme neighborhood, steps from the French Quarter at 1225 N. Rampart Street. It has officially been named The George and Joyce Wein Jazz & Heritage Center, as a tribute to the pioneering festival producers who helped facilitate the first Jazz Fest in 1970, which was then a small gathering that took place in Armstrong Park near the current headquarters.

An artist conception of the center

Artist conception of the center

Treme Creole Gumbo Festival, courtesy of Jazz & Heritage Foundation

Cajun Zydeco Festival, courtesy of Jazz & Heritage Foundation

Joyce Wein passed away in 2005, but George, now 89, will be present for some of the festivities and the press conference. The updated building will host community events as well as serve as an education center.

Surrounding the grand opening are several events, including a donor and patrons party on Dec. 11; a grand opening concert featuring Edward “Kidd” Jordan and family members; and a community open house with a free holiday concert on Dec. 13.

The Foundation’s offices are located nearby at 1205 N. Rampart Street, and the organization purchased the former Tharp Sontheimer Laudumiey Funeral Home in 2007. Today, the former funeral home is full of life, having served as the site for several Foundation-related events, including the Treme Creole Gumbo Festival and the Tom Dent Congo Square Lecture Series.

Partnering with the Eskew+Dumez+Ripple architecture firm, the Foundation sought to balance historic preservation with modernization on the property, keeping the facade of the building relatively untouched with updates to the interior for optimal acoustics and energy-efficiency. They rebuilt the back of the building to hold a large modern performing space that holds up to 200, and it also features seven classrooms including labs for piano and drums.

We expect the facility, which is located at the gateway to the Treme neighborhood, to give a major boost to the cultural and economic development of not only Treme but to our entire city Don Marshall, executive director of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation

Additionally, each room is wired to a center control room for audio and video recording; the building also has interactive video projection for long-distance learning and for other special presentations. Updates were made possible by the Moving Heritage Forward fundraising campaign, which began in 2011 and reached a $9 million goal to provide renovations, maintenance costs and program expansion and stability.

“We expect the facility, which is located at the gateway to the Treme neighborhood, to give a major boost to the cultural and economic development of not only Treme but to our entire city,” said Don Marshall, executive director of the Foundation in a press release.

The new center will provide aspiring musicians the opportunity to learn from the greatest mentors: other New Orleans musicians and artists.

One such leader is Edward “Kidd” Jordan, a 79-year-old improvisational jazz wizard who has consistently dedicated his expertise in teaching the younger generations.

A luminary on the saxophone, Jordan is a lifelong performer and mentor, as well as the founding member of the music education program, known as the Don “Moose” Jamison Heritage School of Music, which started in 1990 when he approached the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation with a request that it support free, weekly classes for children who weren’t receiving the proper music education in their schools.

He continues to teach at the school and also serves as the artistic director, so it’s fitting that he – along with four of his seven musically talented (now grown) children – will take the stage on Dec. 12 for a performance to christen the grand opening of the facility.

His daughter, Stephanie Jordan, a vocalist, is proud and honored to be a part of it.

“The idea of music and after-school programs is something that my dad was dealing with long before people started formalizing it through the school system,” she says. “The fact that the Foundation called us and asked us to perform is something we are very proud of, and it’s important to us. We are glad to know that the Foundation considers my dad’s talent and energy to be a driving force in this city in terms of music and music education.”

She says that concert-goers can expect a wide variety of performances. “Each one of us is different in terms of how we express ourselves musically,” she explains. “[Concert attendees] will be seeing jazz represented in different ways. We all play different genres and my dad is completely improvisational with his. We are all very proud of our dad. He has given a lot to this city, he’s taught a lot of musicians, and he’s helped a lot of people in the music world.”

So, too, has the Foundation itself, and its rich musical legacy will continue on in its new digs.

Our Local Publisher Partners

The Arts Council of New Orleans

The Arts Council of New Orleans is a private, non-profit organization designated as the City’s official arts agency. The Arts Council serves as one of eight regional distributing agencies for state arts funds and administers available municipal arts grants and the Percent For Art program for the City of New Orleans. The Arts Council works in partnership with the City of New Orleans, community groups, local, state, and national governmental agencies, and other nonprofit arts organizations to meet the arts and cultural needs of the New Orleans community through a diversity of initiatives and services.

WWNO

WWNO, the NPR member station for New Orleans, serves southeast Louisiana and parts of southwest Mississippi by broadcasting balanced news, thought provoking analysis, classical music, jazz and other musical styles, intelligent entertainment, and unique local content. We broadcast on 89.9 FM, and KTLN 90.5 FM in the Houma-Thibodaux area as a public service of the University of New Orleans. All of WWNO’s programs, including its growing local news coverage, are available online at WWNO.org.

WWOZ

WWOZ 90.7 FM is the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Station offering listener-supported, volunteer-programmed community radio. WWOZ covers many events live in and around the city and across the United States, and broadcasts live from the famed New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival annually. WWOZ’s mission is to be the worldwide voice, archive, and flag-bearer of New Orleans culture and musical heritage.

PRC

Preservation Resource Center (PRC) has been preserving, restoring, and revitalizing New Orleans’ historic architecture and neighborhoods since 1974. Throughout its history, PRC has acted as an advocacy agent on a local, regional, and national scale, spreading the word about the city’s rich architectural heritage and the economic importance of preserving this heritage. PRC also takes a hands-on approach to preservation, with a history of successfully restoring over 1,400 properties. The center strengthens and revitalizes New Orleans in a way that is forward-looking and sustainable, yet sensitive to the city’s past and its heritage.

NOMA

As a nexus for the arts in New Orleans, NOMA is committed to preserving, interpreting, and enriching its collections and renowned sculpture garden; offering innovative experiences for learning and interpretation; and uniting, inspiring, and engaging diverse communities and cultures.

The Historic New Orleans Collection

The Historic New Orleans Collection (THNOC) is a museum, research center, and publisher dedicated to preserving the history and culture of New Orleans and the Gulf South. Its holdings comprise more than one million items from more than three centuries, documenting moments both major and minor. Its four exhibition spaces–the Williams Gallery, the Louisiana History Galleries, the Boyd Cruise Gallery, and the Laura Simon Nelson Galleries for Louisiana Art–faithfully depict the multicultural stories of the region, from permanent displays exploring the evolution of Louisiana to rotating exhibitions showcasing history and fine art.

Southern Food

The Southern Food and Beverage Museum is a nonprofit living history organization dedicated to the discovery, understanding and celebration of the food, drink and the related culture of the South. While based in New Orleans, the Museum examines and celebrates all the cultures that have come together through the centuries to create the South’s unique culinary heritage. The Museum is also home to the collections of the Museum of the American Cocktail, the Galerie d’Absinthe, and a demonstration kitchen.

Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities

The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing educational opportunities to all Louisianans.

The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities’ mission is to provide all Louisianans with access to and an appreciation of their own rich, shared and diverse historical, literary and cultural heritage through grant-supported outreach programs, family literacy and adult reading initiatives, teacher professional development institutes, publications, film and radio documentaries, museum exhibitions, cultural tourism, public lectures, library projects, and other public humanities programming.

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