New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation (New Orleans, LA)

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    A craftsman's exhibition booth is pictured.  In the foreground a life-sized skeleton doll with a blonde wig.  A man in a white hat works at a table, behind him are photos of costumed chracters, including a skeleton

North Side Skull & Bones member Bruce Barnes decorates a papier-mache skull in the Louisiana Folklife Village at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Photo by Teresa Parker

For almost 35 years, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation (NOJ&HF) has presented the world-renowned New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, a seven-day celebration spotlighting the music, cuisine, and culture of Louisiana. Jazz Fest, as it's popularly called, regularly attracts more than 400,000 visitors each year. The festival is part of NOJ&HF's mission to promote, preserve, perpetuate, and encourage Louisiana's indigenous arts and culture. Other foundation initiatives include youth programs at the Heritage School of Music; "Raisin' the Roof," a homeownership program for musicians and artists; and free musical performances in disadvantaged neighborhoods. NOJ&HF also provides 40,000 free and discounted festival tickets to underserved populations, including nursing homes and schools.

 

Paul "Junior" Ortis carves wood for making a guitar in the Louisiana Folklife Village at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Photo by Teresa Parker

Native Nation Intertribal pow-wow dancers perform for fairgoers in Native American Village at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Photo by Teresa Parker

In FY 2004, NOJ&HF received an NEA Heritage & Preservation grant of $25,000 to support three New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival exhibits: the Louisiana Folklife Village, the Folk Heritage Stage, and the Native American Village. Each area featured cultural demonstrations and performances by tradition-bearers, including Native American musicians, Mardi Gras costume makers, and artisans like basketweavers and woodworkers. Together, the three festival sites boasted more than 100 craftspeople and performers, many of whom return annually. Most have learned their craft through a relative, community member, or mentor.

Recent participants have included the Native Nation Intertribal pow wow dancers; Larry Miller, a melodeon (Cajun accordion) maker; NEA National Heritage Award winner Irvan Perez, a singer and woodcarver; and YellowFawn Thornton, a fourth-generation Choctaw potter. Educational sessions included folklorist-conducted interviews with practitioners at the Folklife Village and themed discussions at the Folk Heritage Stage.

(From the 2004 NEA Annual Report)