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New Orleans Jazz Market Revitalizes Black Neighborhood

Eric Craig | 7/19/2016, 7:15 p.m. | Updated on 7/19/2016, 7:15 p.m.
This one-year-old facility on Oretha Castle Hayley is revitalizing the Central City area one note at a time. Located on ...

This one-year-old facility on Oretha Castle Hayley is revitalizing the Central City area one note at a time. Located on 1436 Oretha Castle Hayley Blvd., The People’s Health New Orleans Jazz Market offers several amenities to a Historically Black Neighborhood and the City of New Orleans.

Constructing the New Orleans Jazz Market

The People’s Health New Orleans Jazz Market is one of the first buildings associated with the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra. NOJO was founded by Irvin Mayfield in 2002 with the intentions of sustaining jazz culture in New Orleans.

NOJO has toured internationally. In 2010 the group won a Grammy for their studio recorded album “Book in One.”

The Jazz Market is an expansion of that idea, serving as a gateway to jazz-related culture and information that is available to the general public.

“We [The New Orleans Jazz Orchestra] always had plans to build a facility to celebrate jazz music,” said Ronald Markham, President and CEO of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra.

“You would think that in the City of New Orleans, where this music was created, you would already have a facility like that, but it didn’t exist,” he added.

The current Jazz Market is located on 1436 Oretha Castle Hayley Blvd., a historically African-American area in New Orleans. The building, in the early part of the 20th Century was the Dryades Market, that served the area as a general purpose store. When the building was acquired in 2013, it was a defunct Gator’s Department Store that has been inactive since Hurricane Katrina.

NOJO partnered with the New Orleans Library Foundation, a private non-profit that helps manage private gifts and donations for, and raises money for the development of, the New Orleans Public Library System.

The Jazz Market partnered with the New Orleans Library Foundation to fulfill the City’s need for a storefront branch that would service the Central City area. The library master plan was developed in 2008 to aid public library recovery in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

“Part of the plan for our organization was to pull together partners – private and public entities—to invest in the heartbeat of the City which is our culture and specifically Jazz music,” Markham said.

The Construction of The People’s Health New Orleans Jazz Market began in 2014. The $10 million building was erected in 2015, serving as the official headquarters of NOJO.

The Jazz Market houses a performing arts venue, a library of community and jazz-centered books, a flex studio for band rehearsals and recordings, a bar and lounge area and many more accessible rooms.

According to Markham, the construction of the building was funded by sponsors, including People’s Health, Goldman Sachs, Community Development Capital, Anne and Neal Morris Foundation.

“[The Sponsors] came together to fund the Division of a Community Center built in Central City to celebrate the richness of our musical culture. Most importantly to build a beacon of hope and beauty in this neighborhood,” Markham said.

New Orleans Jazz Market Services

The People’s Health New Orleans Jazz Market is open to the public and offers several free services for Central City and New Orleans residents to use.