Project profile via Crescent Capital.
New Orleans Center for Creative Arts is a regional, pre-professional arts training center that offers students intensive instruction in culinary arts, dance, media arts: filmmaking & audio production, music (classical, jazz, vocal), theatre arts (drama, musical theatre, theatre design), visual arts, and creative writing, while demanding simultaneous academic excellence.
NOCCA was founded in 1973 by a diverse coalition of artists, educators, business leaders, and community activists who saw the need for an institution devoted to our region’s burgeoning young talent. Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Harry Connick, Jr., Terence Blanchard, Jeanne-Michele Charbonnet, Wendell Pierce, Anthony Mackie, Mary Catherine Garrison and Gary Solomon Jr. are only a few NOCCA graduates who can attest to the extraordinary educational opportunity the Center represents to the children of Louisiana.
NOCCA was operated for its first quarter-century by the Orleans Parish School Board; students were required to be residents of New Orleans. In 2000, the school relocated to its present campus, on the banks of the Mississippi River in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood, and its governance was revised to provide for direct administration by the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. At this time NOCCA began accepting students residing anywhere in Louisiana, in service of its broadened role as the premier performing and visual arts high school for the state.
In the ensuing years, NOCCA’s curriculum matured to encompass concentrations in eleven disciplines, including jazz, classical instrumental music, drama and the visual arts. The events of 2005 tested the institution, scattering its faculty and student body across the country, but NOCCA’s stakeholders responded by embracing a bold plan for growth.
Additional concentrations, in the digital media and culinary arts were launched, and, in 2011, a longstanding dream to offer at NOCCA a full school day of instruction came to fruition with the debut of the Academic Studio. For the first time, curricula in math, science and the humanities were taught on campus, making it possible for NOCCA students to acquire an innovative, fully comprehensive, arts-centered secondary education without having to leave the site. NOCCA’s progress has come in the face of ten budget cuts, some occurring mid-year, over the last four years; the school’s state funding has decreased by 25% during this period.
Responding to these challenges with characteristic boldness, the NOCCA Institute – NOCCA’s community support and advocacy organization – developed a plan for the NOCCA Forum, a dramatic $26.4MM proposal to lay the foundation for the school’s future. The Forum will incorporate cutting-edge facilities and include revenue-generating elements to provide independent means to the institution’s endeavors. In early 2013, NOCCA contacted Crescent Growth Capital (“CGC”) to assist them in bringing together financing for the Forum.
On December 19th, 2013, CGC helped NOCCA close and fund a $12.5MM Qualified Equity Investment (“QEI”), using New Markets Tax Credits allocations of $6.5MM and $6MM provided by First NBC Bank and Whitney Bank, respectively, and leveraging an estimated $7.8MM in Federal and State Historic Tax Credit equity, and $14MM of Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (“QZABs”). The Federal and State New Markets and Historic Tax Credit equity, combined with $14MM of QZABs provided the NOCCA Institute with nearly $12.5MM in combined subsidy, which amounts to nearly half of the project budget.