Working with Queen Rukiya to get her work to Paris

The Ella Project proudly celebrates Big Queen Rukiya of the Creole Wild West Mardi Gras Indian tribe for her enormous achievement in having her amazingly intricate and profound artwork selected for exhibition at the Musee du quai Branly in Paris.  We were happy to work with Rukiya on the legal mechanisms required to ensure she secured a fair, equitable and favorable arrangement, which ultimately took her fabulous Indian suit from the streets of New Orleans to one of the world’s finest art institutions.  As a result, Rukiya’s White Buffalo suit will be on display for art lovers around the world to observe and appreciate while getting a taste of some of what makes New Orleans so special.

The Mardi Gras Indians, or black masking Indians, are unique to New Orleans and one of America’s oldest, urban, indigenous cultures that continues to thrive today.  We have worked intimately with many Mardi Gras Indians since our organization was founded in 2004.  We have also had the privilege to represent the Mardi Gras Indian Council since day one of our legal clinics, going back 16 years now.  We are honored to have served the Queens of the Nation and the Mardi Gras Indian Hall of Fame, which awarded us a Golden Feather in 2016. In 2010, we worked with Mardi Gras Indians to secure recognition by the U.S. Copyright Office of the their  elaborate suits as works of sculpture, which extended the rights afforded to these authors beyond photographs alone.  Because their underlying work, their suits, are subject to copyright protection as works of sculpture, Mardi Gras Indians have greater recourse to protect and enforce their rights.  Our Co-Founder Ashlye Keaton often says that working with Mardi Gras Indians continues to be the highlight of her professional life, and she credits the Indian community for continuing to inspire her to commit to public service.  We  are blessed with the good fortune to collaborate with creators like Rukiya to tell their own stories and to spread the joy of New Orleans culture across the globe.  Cheers to Big Queen Rukiya for being an inspiration to us all!

Queen Rukiya Brown, Super Sunday 2019

Ella Project working with South Arts on jazz touring program.

The Ella Project has bsoutharts.pngeen hired by South Arts, a regional organization based in Atlanta that builds on the South’s unique heritage and enhance the public value of the arts, to facilitate six upcoming, invitation-only national focus group meetings to assess the current jazz touring environment,  and how to build careers for lesser-known artists located throughout the country’s more rural and underserved areas.  These sessions will be instrumental in designing the launch of Jazz Road, a forthcoming initiative funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation with additional support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  Jazz Road will be led by South Arts in partnership with the five other U.S. Regional Arts Organizations (Arts Midwest, Mid America Arts Alliance, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, New England Foundation for the Arts, and Western Arts Alliance/WESTAF). Follow us on Instagram as we document these conversations taking place across the U.S. in next two months.

Ashlye Keaton teaches Copyright & Trademark workshop as part of NOCCA Institute Summer Studio

The Ella Project will be part of The NOCCA Institute’s Summer Studio, teaching a Copyright & Trademark workshop on June 9th. Join Ella Project Co-Founder Ashlye Keaton as she discusses:

  • What copyright does for you
  • How to register your copyrights
  • What is (and isn’t) copyrightable
  • Do you need a trademark?
  • What’s the difference between copyright and trademark?

This is a multi-disciplinary workshop, covering musicians, visual artists, performing artists, filmmakers, writers, and all other creatives.


Sat, June 9, 2018

10:00 AM – 12:00 PM CDT

Add to Calendar


New Orleans Center for Creative Arts

2800 Chartres Street

New Orleans, LA 70117

To register, please click here.

Ella Project produces case study on New Orleans culture for Canadian Music Week

The Ella Project is proud to partner with Music Policy Forum, Music Canada and Canadian Music Week to produce programming around the state of New Orleans music and culture to be presented at the annual Music Cities Summit as part of Canadian Music Week, which takes place in Toronto May 7 – 13, 2018.  The Ella Project conceived, co-produced and  is moderating the May 12th panel: New Orleans: A Case Study On Cultural Heritage, Economic Development and Audience Development in NOLA. Along with Ella Project co-founder Ashlye Keaton, who will serve as moderator, representatives from WWOZ, the New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian Council, the Ponderosa Stomp Foundation and A Closer Walk will discuss how their organizations support the broader cultural ecosystem as it pertains to cultural heritage, economic development and audience development in New Orleans.

Partnering with organizations such as Music Canada and Music Policy Forum builds on The Ella Project’s strategy to create a network of public policy makers with a deeper interest in the current successes and challenges of New Orleans cultural development. “This summit brings people engaged in music policy from across the world,” says Keaton. “We have a great opportunity to learn from them, but I also believe they have a great opportunity to learn from us. New Orleans culture continues to thrive, despite lack of significant public investment and a changing city. Channeling knowledge gained and shared at summits like this is key for New Orleans to engage policy discussions going forward into the new administration.”

For more information on the Music Cities Summit at Canadian Music Week, please visit and

For a copy of The Mastering of a Music City report, please visit

Copyright and trademarking for artists with Ashlye Keaton workshop at NOCCA June 9

Business of art class: Copyright and trademarking for artists with Ashlye Keaton

Time: Saturday, June 9 from 10am-12pm

Instructor: Ashlye Keaton

Location: NOCCA, 2800 Chartres Street


Anyone who wants to have a successful career in the arts needs to be able to protect and distribute their work. Join Ella Project Co-Founder and Supervising Attorney Ashlye Keaton as she discusses:

  • What copyright does for you
  • How to register your copyrights
  • What is (and isn’t) copyrightable
  • Do you need a trademark?
  • What’s the difference between copyright and trademark?

This is a multi-disciplinary workshop, covering musicians, visual artists, performing artists, filmmakers, writers, and all other creatives.


No previous experience is required. Enrollment is limited to adults age 18 and older.



Ella Project at Music Cities Think Tank

The Ella Project was honored to participate in this year’s Music Cities Think Tank, hosted by Sound Music Cities at SWSW in Austin. This two day think tank brought together

music policy leaders from across North America to discuss issues including developing music friendly municipal policies, new revenue streams for musicians, the evolving role of non commercial radio, and more.

We’re excited to continue these conversations to bring the most progressive, music forward

public policies to New Orleans. Along with Austin, we met with music policy experts from:

  • Seattle
  • Washington Dc
  • San Antonio
  • Memphis
  • Victoria, BC
  • Portland, OR
  • London, ON
  • Milwaukee
  • Fort  Collins, CO

See more about the Think Tank here.