NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation is accepting applications for hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants available for education and community-based programs that support Louisiana's music, culture and heritage.
The foundation is a nonprofit funded largely by ticket sales generated from the annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. In recent years, the foundation has distributed $500,000 in grants annually to other nonprofit organizations supporting music and the arts, as well as writers, artists, photographers, filmmakers and education programs.
Grants for this year have been announced for the following categories: education programs in music, arts and cultural traditions; works of art documenting Louisiana's indigenous culture; and performing arts events, such as a festivals or concerts, presented by a nonprofit.
The grants are open to any person or organization supporting music and the arts in Louisiana, said foundation spokesman Scott Aiges.
"Our focus is statewide," Aiges said. "We're trying to use our resources to support other people who are doing good work in line with our mission of stimulating Louisiana music and culture."
Aiges said more than $300,000 in competitive grants will be awarded this year, and another nearly $200,000 in non-competitive grants will be doled out to nonprofits such as the New Orleans Musicians' Clinic, which was established in 1998 to provide comprehensive health care to musicians regardless of their ability to pay.
Don Marshall, the foundation's director, said the foundation supports the grass-roots mission of the festival, which is to stimulate the state's music culture and reinvest in the community with music education programs.
In its humble beginnings, the festival that's become known simply as Jazz Fest, featured only a handful of acts and drew only about 350 people to Congo Square. More than 40 years later, some 400,000 people pack the Fair Grounds Race Course to take in music on 12 stages strung among countless other presentation areas with cultural demonstrations, including exhibitions by Native Americans and cooking demonstrations by some of the area's renowned chefs.
Before Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the foundation offered roughly $100,000 in grant money every other year. But with the need for music and cultural redevelopment so strong after the storm, the foundation restructured its grant program to make more money available, Marshall said.
"I haven't seen another model like this anywhere," Marshall said. "This festival has grown to the point where we're able to generate revenue that allows us to establish free music education programs, housing initiatives and lecture series. One of the best things we do is the grant program."
A workshop about the grant program will be held June 25 at 4 p.m. in the foundation's gallery at 1205 N. Rampart St.
The deadline to apply is July 16.
Besides the grants, the foundation is funding an expansion of its campus in the city's historic Treme neighborhood. In November, it is set to begin renovating a 12,500-square-foot funeral home purchased four years ago and turn it into a music school. The building is in the same block as the foundation's headquarters.
When the $8.5 million renovation is complete, it will be home to the Heritage School of Music, which is currently housed at Dillard University. The school, including seven classrooms and a 200-seat performance hall, is expected to open at its new location in fall of 2013.