Today, the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) and its nonprofit partner, The NOCCA Institute, joined representatives from Chevron, Emeril Lagasse Foundation, and other corporations, foundations, and individuals to mark the official opening of NOCCA’s Chevron Forum.
The $28 million Chevron Forum project was spearheaded by The NOCCA Institute, and its opening coincides with a year-long celebration of NOCCA’s 40th birthday. The Chevron Forum adds over 60,000 square feet of instructional, social, and administrative space to the NOCCA campus, which spans New Orleans’ Faubourg Marigny and Bywater neighborhoods.
The Chevron Forum is already being used by NOCCA’s full-day academic program, the Academic Studio, and some arts disciplines. It is also home base for NOCCA’s Culinary Arts Program, housed in the Emeril Lagasse Foundation Culinary Arts Center. The fully renovated historic warehouse also contains Press Street Station restaurant and 5 Press Gallery — two new Institute initiatives open to the public. These nonprofit businesses generate support for NOCCA and give the community a taste of the school’s acclaimed creative environment.
Sally Perry, executive director of The NOCCA Institute, said that the Chevron Forum could never have been built without help from NOCCA’s dedicated family of supporters: “Since NOCCA’s founding 40 years ago, the school has benefited tremendously from the generosity of donors like Chevron, which provided the lead gift for the Forum. These supporters understand the value of a place like NOCCA and the unique opportunities it has offered to two generations of Louisiana youth. Now, as the Forum begins to share NOCCA’s gifts with the public through Press Street Station and 5 Press Gallery, we hope even more members of the community will come to treasure NOCCA as we do.”
Kyle Wedberg, NOCCA’s president and CEO, added that “This facility is a manifestation of the work, support, and passion of many focused on providing students with a world class place to learn and faculty with a world class place to teach. Four years after its launch, this facility houses what is already one of the best high schools in Louisiana. Forty years after its launch, this facility expands the highest level of arts training for the next generation of leaders in the creative and cultural economy. We welcome and embrace this expanded opportunity to help the students of NOCCA and youth in Louisiana bend their histories.”
Representatives from Chevron were also on hand at the ribbon-cutting. “At NOCCA, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math are further strengthened by Arts integration. Adding the ‘A’ for ‘Arts’ transforms STEM into STEAM, and allows creativity and critical thinking to walk parallel paths that lead to an increase in student achievement and innovation,” said Chevron Gulf of Mexico Vice President Mike Illanne. “NOCCA’s results have been remarkable. Last year, 99% of students passed the Louisiana End of Course tests and NOCCA earned its second ‘A’ grade in two years from Louisiana’s Department of Education. We’re proud to have played a part in establishing NOCCA’s Academic Studio and the Chevron Forum.”
Two of The NOCCA Institute’s most ardent supporters in recent years have been Chef Emeril Lagasse and Emeril Lagasse Foundation. “The growth of the culinary program at NOCCA over the years has been remarkable,” said Chef Lagasse. “We’re so proud to support such an incredible arts institution in this city and be a part of the bright future of its students.”