Activating the Oretha Castle Haley Cultural Corridor 

Community in Action

Project Description

In 2019, a coalition of Central City-based partners applied to the National Endowment for the Arts Our Town program for funding to support activities that define the Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard as a thriving public space and cultural corridor, through placemaking, activations, and collective marketing. Due to COVID, the project was put on pause and relaunched in 2023.  

Arts New Orleans has partnered with Civic Studio, a Central City based multidisciplinary creative worker co-op, to facilitate a process involving a wide range of Central City partners, leaders, public agencies, and the public to achieve the following in 2023-2024: 

  • A Community Vision – create a collective plan for placemaking in Central City
  • Monthly Food & Culture events (activations) took place from February 2023 to July 2023 to build meaningful connections between residents, stakeholders, and the grant facilitators.
  • Convenings include three longer working and ideation sessions held in January, June, and September 2023.   
  • Coordinated Marketing Campaigns for the Oretha Castle Haley corridor.  
  • A Major Public Event co-created for spring 2024.
  • Neighborhood Grants to fund partnerships and creative projects.
  • Guide Public Art help guide the site and artist selection of permanent public art for the Oretha Castle Haley corridor.

Project Values

The project values were co-created by attendees of the Convenings and Activations held January 2023 through August 2023. Values anchor conversations, guide the vision of the Oretha Castle Haley corridor as a thriving public space, cultural corridor, and inform project work, resources and outcomes. 

  • Community & Collaboration: Come together for work and fun, expanding networks, building on the capacities of individual organizations
  • Intergenerational Exchange: Ancestors and youth, history and memories and stories, mentorship and youth creativity
  • Sustainability: Build long term capacity, sustaining efforts beyond 2024
  • Uplift & Celebrate Culture & History: Art, music, food, performance, tell community stories, history and create memories

Placemaking Principles 

The placemaking principles will be included in the community vision plan that will help guide future development of public space and programming along the corridor, enhancing the Corridor’s identity. 

  • Safe & Welcoming: Activities and the cultural corridor should be welcoming and safe for everyone – residents, neighbors, tourists and the unhoused 
  • Promote & Support Local Businesses: Activities and the cultural corridor should support initiatives that offer a variety of options and that range from day to night
  • Embody Community Values & Resources: Activities and the cultural corridor should support artistry and storytelling, commerce and development, healing and growing, gathering and celebration, ancestral wisdom and youthful spirit, community service and leadership
  • Broaden Access: Activities and the cultural corridor should aim to increase access to fresh food, various transportation options, shade, different mobility needs, and represented history

Community Driven Initiatives

The Community Driven Initiatives of the Oretha Castle Haley Cultural Corridor Project include Neighborhood Grants, Event Committee, and Public Art Selection Committee. These funded initiatives bring together individuals, organizations, artists, and leaders who are passionate about supporting local culture and community development and provide the opportunity to actively participate in shaping the Oretha Castle Haley Cultural Corridor and make a meaningful impact in the community. 

  • Neighborhood Grants provides funding for small-scale grassroots projects that promote and support local businesses, celebrate local culture and history, and enhance community resources. Grants are available in three tiers – $500, $1,000, and $2,500.
  • The Event Committee includes 6-8 dedicated individuals, who are responsible for planning, coordinating, and executing a dynamic community-focused event in March 2024. This event aims to celebrate the Oretha Castle Haley Cultural Corridor, highlight the Neighborhood Grant projects, provide feedback for public art concepts, and share the community vision. Honorariums are provided to selected committee members.
  • The Public Art Selection Committee helps select the permanent public artwork along the Oretha Castle Haley Cultural Corridor, the Public Art Selection Committee is for you! This committee seeks 2-3 members to evaluate artist qualifications and proposals, ensuring they align with our community’s goals, values, and themes. Honorariums are provided to selected committee members.

Project Updates

Since January 2023 Arts New Orleans and Civic Studio have hosted a robust schedule of activities that have brought many different partners, stakeholders and residents together to spend time getting to know each other better, define shared values, brainstorm a big public event, neighborhood grants, communication tools, and share experiences and history from the Boulevard.