New Orleans: where creative talent is nurtured

I keep thinking back on last week in New Orleans. So many things I want to share with you. New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts

One of the most impressive places I’ve ever stepped foot in is NOCCA, New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts. Overlooking the great Mississippi River, this state-of-the-art facility has been in existence since 1973. It’s an internationally-acclaimed pre-professional conservatory for high schoolers – those high-calibre, gifted students whose talents lie in the arts.

We all know those kids, the ones who excel in dance or music, in creative writing. Those who have always dreamed of directing a film or being a famous chef. I have one of those children.

I had no school like this for her here in Atlanta. She asked for art, photography, and design courses as her electives, but they were few and far between. Most were underfunded by our state legislature and no longer offered in the local high schools. Louisiana, and especially New Orleans, knows the value of creativity. And they nurture it here at NOCCA.

performance stage at New Orleans Center for Creative ArtsMost of the 600 who attend get their core curriculum classes in the morning at their local high school, then spend their afternoons in ballet or piano practice, or writing music. Kids from out of town spend their entire day at NOCCA, in The Academic Studio. Others come in the summertime.

It’s a free program for budding artists who can pass the rigorous audition requirements. And it’s tough to stay in. All students are required to maintain a B or above average.

NOCCA makes sure their program is open to all kids who qualify. Scholarships are available for kids coming from outside New Orleans – to cover the necessary housing . . . or for private lessons some kids need to keep pace with NOCCA’s curriculum. Or the cost of a specialized summer program in NYC.

The school pulls from its successful graduates, local artists and foundations for teaching and support. Notables like chef Emeril Lagassee, musician Harry Connick, Jr., actor Wendell Pierce, The Hearst Foundation, Chevron, Microsoft– all play a key role in this vital program.

It’s a highly successful program. 95-98% of its graduates go on to college and conservatory programs across the country. 80% on scholarship.

Take a minute and look at their programs. Don’t you wish your city had such a place?

Thank you, New Orleans, for placing such a high value on creativity. And here’s to you for nurturing those young people who will, one day, grow up to change our world.



  • K. M.
    Posted at 00:10h, 03 July

    I go to this school. Last year I went after school in the workshop program and I will be attending full day for starting next school day. It is truly amazing. My teachers are great and it’s fantastic to have such a large group of friends and classmates with the same interests as me.

  • K. M.
    Posted at 00:11h, 03 July

    I will be attending full fay for Musical Theatre starting next school year.*

    • K. M.
      Posted at 00:12h, 03 July

      full day*

      ugh… so many typos. Sorry.

  • lisaweldon
    Posted at 00:19h, 03 July

    I am SO jealous. Wish I was your age and going to NOCCA. What are you studying?

  • Eboni
    Posted at 04:38h, 11 July

    I study Musical Theatre at NOCCA now…It’s absolutely wonderful! 😀

  • lisaweldon
    Posted at 06:12h, 11 July

    Oh, Eboni, go for it! You are so privileged to be a part of that program. Take advantage of every minute of your time there. May I have your autograph before you get famous?