Representatives from Emeril Lagasse Foundation, the Solomon family, the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA), and The NOCCA Institute, came together on Monday, November 10 for an exciting announcement. Speaking on behalf of the Foundation and the family, respectively, Chef Emeril Lagasse and Gary Solomon Jr. revealed a partnership grant of $2 million in support of the capital campaign for the new NOCCA Forum building.
The gift comes as NOCCA celebrates its 40th year of immersing young artists in Louisiana’s unique cultural heritage. It will be used to help complete the NOCCA Forum, a campus expansion spearheaded by the Institute, NOCCA’s nonprofit partner. The Forum adds more than 50,000 square feet of instructional, social, and administrative space to the NOCCA campus, which spans New Orleans’ Faubourg Marigny and Bywater neighborhoods.
The NOCCA Forum will primarily house two new, ambitious programs for young artists — one in Culinary Arts, the other a full-day academic curriculum. The fully renovated historic warehouse will also be home to the Press Street Station restaurant and 5 Press Gallery. Those new Institute initiatives support NOCCA and give the public a taste of the school’s acclaimed creative environment
Both Emeril Lagasse Foundation and the Solomon family have been longtime supporters of NOCCA and The NOCCA Institute. Among other things, the Foundation made lead gifts to pilot and launch NOCCA’s Culinary Arts program, and the Solomons have been fans of the school since long before Gary Solomon Jr. graduated from its Theatre Design program in 2004.
Speaking this morning’s press conference, Chef Emeril Lagasse said, “On behalf of the Emeril Lagasse Foundation and Board of Directors, we are proud to announce that the Emeril Lagasse Foundation will contribute $1.5 million to make this dream come true.”
“On behalf of the Solomon family, I am proud to announce our contribution of $500,000 to help support the NOCCA Forum and expanded curricula”, said NOCCA alum and NOCCA Institute board member Gary Solomon Jr. “My family’s hope is that future generations of students will have experiences similar to those that I enjoyed at NOCCA and that we can play a small part in helping them be for successful in school and in life.”
NOCCA Institute executive director Sally Perry lauded Emeril Lagasse Foundation and the Solomon family for their vision and commitment to New Orleans: “This Foundation and this family are passionate about making New Orleans an even better place to live, work, and study. For many years, we have enjoyed partnering with them on initiatives to support NOCCA, and we’re thrilled that they’ve partnered with one another to maximize the value of their gifts. Their support is important not only to NOCCA and its talented faculty and students, but also to these great, historic neighborhoods we call home.”
In his remarks, NOCCA’s president and CEO, Kyle Wedberg, seconded Perry’s thoughts and acknowledged the unique partnership it has with the Institute that has allowed both organizations to thrive over the past 40 years: “On behalf of the NOCCA family — the students, faculty, staff and board of this great Louisiana treasure — we take this moment to express our great pride. This building, this expansion, this new forum of classrooms and art studios, represents to us the greatness that can come from students provided access to a world class education. The families and future of Louisiana is dependent on more and greater options for teaching and learning and this facility represents both growth in the training NOCCA has always done in the arts and an addition of hundreds of seats to a diploma granting program that ranks among the state’s and the country’s best. All from a public school. This would not be possible without the tireless work of The NOCCA Institute and our shared community of supporters. Their belief in the core mission of our agency is represented right here in the brick and mortar of this incredible new addition to our campus. And specifically thanks to the Solomon Family and Emeril Lagasse Foundation for their continued and elevated support of NOCCA through their incredible capital gift. Our growing academic full-day program, Academic Studio and our Culinary Arts training center have a new home that will serve thousands of students from Louisiana over the next century.”