December 22, 2020


Multi-year Grant to Support Presentation and Production of New Work That Fosters Artistic Engagement with Community 

(New Orleans, LA - December 22, 2020): The Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans (CAC), is pleased to announce that it is the recipient of a $500,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for Interdisciplinary Curatorial Practice. The  three-year grant supports the development of new work and interdisciplinary programming for visual and performing arts through 2023.  Committed to presenting and producing multidisciplinary arts programming since 1976, the CAC is directing the Mellon funding towards Inter[SECTOR], a multidisciplinary program focused on cross-sector engagements among visual and performing artists and our community, specifically in areas of carceral justice, the environment, and healthcare. 

The Inter[SECTOR] programming anchors the CAC’s Spring 2021 season with Gender (in)Justice, a series of conversations, workshops, and performances created and led by women and non-binary artist/ensembles focusing on injustices in the prison system and the impact of mass incarceration on these communities.  National artists, community activists, and prison-impacted communities in New Orleans and Louisiana are collaborating on a diverse program of dance, music, and theater. Inter[SECTOR]’s developing three year program centers the role of artists as vital participants in fostering social justice through the creation and production of exceptional multidisciplinary art. 

In year two of the Mellon grant, the CAC will support artistic work that focuses on health care and the role of the arts in addressing public health, healing, and recovery in partnership with healthcare advocates.  In year three, the CAC will support artwork reflecting on the environment and climate change with artistic perspectives on the environmental impact and disparities across sectors with critical contributions by indigenous artists in Bulbancha (the indigenous name of the area now known as New Orleans.)

“The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is doing phenomenal and transformational work across the nation, and we are proud to be a part. The CAC’s mission is to present the "art of our time," which demands we recommit ourselves to a renewed institutional imagination and put the values of justice and equity into conversations and collaborations between artist, civic, and activist communities,” said George Scheer, Executive Director of the Contemporary Arts Center. 

The CAC is also pleased to announce recent support for upcoming programs from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Ella West Foundation, Louisiana Division Of Arts, the Jazz and Heritage Foundation, and the National Performance Network.

The Gender (in)Justice series includes the following upcoming programs in the Spring 2021 season:

The Graduates, a theater ensemble of formerly incarcerated women, who are also a part of the CAC Artist Residency program. The Graduates’ programs include Let’s Talk About It, a table reading of a work in progress that premiered in the Fall virtually on YouTube; Life (Feb 27, 2021), a performance that accompanies The Life Quilt, a hand beaded quilt with the names of the 107 women serving life sentences in Louisiana in 2017.  The Graduates’ residency also includes wellness seminars and culminates with the premiere of a new performance work in May/June 2021.   

The Prison Music Project (March 12- 13, 2021) features Zoe Boekbinder with Ani DiFranco and guests in a showcase of music from Boekbinder's album Long Time Gone.  The album, released in 2020 on Righteous Babe, was produced in collaboration with Ani DiFranco, and features work by nine incarcerated and formerly-incarcerated writers.  

The Wait Room (April 16-19, 2021)  is a site-specific dance and aerial performance based on the stories and experience of incarceration that was created by San Francisco-based artist and FlyAway Productions’ Artistic Director Jo Krieter.  As the centerpiece of the Gender (in)Justice series, The Wait Room will be presented off-site in the Algiers Point neighborhood of New Orleans, and aims to attract at least 50% prison-impacted audiences.  

To further support artists, signature elements of the Inter[SECTOR] programming include Decarceration in the Arts, a series of virtual conversations between artists and activists on the front lines of mass incarceration. 

Another cornerstone of the program is the CAC's Artist Residency Program, which supports New Orleans performing and visual artists with studio space, exhibition and performance opportunities, alongside technical and curatorial support for the development of new work. The program supports artist-led research that fosters the creation of new, interdisciplinary work.  

The CAC's Artist Residency launched in the Summer of 2020, with the selection of performing artists Ryuta Iwashita, (they/them), a movement/performance artist and facilitator/educator whose work 6がつのとおいからだ (Far Bodies in June), examines their physical, social, emotional and conceptual distances; and Vagabond Inventions, a physical theater group directed by Jenny Sargent and singer and composer Renee Benson who collaborated on Requiem for a Stranger, a work-in-progress that explores the heartspace of grief. Due to COVID-19, both of these works were staged and released digitally on the CAC’s YouTube channel.

In the Fall of 2020, visual artists Shana M. griffin, Ana Hernandez, and Sarah Hill were selected for the CAC Artist Residency program and were provided with 1,000 square feet of built-out studio space in the CAC’s second floor Lupin Gallery. These visual artists in residence will be featured in SOLOS, a culminating showcase exhibition, on view at the CAC from January 9, 2021 until April 25, 2021.


About the CAC

The CAC is a multidisciplinary arts center that is dedicated to the presentation, production, and promotion of the art of our time. The CAC is a cultural leader. As such, it organizes, presents, and tours curated exhibitions, performances and programs by local, regional, national, and international artists. It demonstrates proactive local and regional leadership by educating children and adults, cultivating and growing audiences, and initiating and encouraging collaboration among diverse artists, institutions, communities, and supporters.  Museum admission is free on Sundays for Louisiana residents, courtesy of The Helis Foundation.  Children and students through Grade 12 and under receive free admission, courtesy of The Helis Foundation. The CAC is located at 900 Camp Street, and can be reached by phone at 504 528-3805. For more information about CAC and to sign up for email updates, visit 


Media Contact:

Laura B. Tennyson

Associate Director of Communications

Contemporary Arts Center

(504) 319-9943 | 

900 Camp Street, New Orleans, LA 70117


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