Our fact finding trip to Seattle, San Francisco

City of New Orleans delegation in Seattle, WA with King County’s Kate Becker

In September, The Ella Project led a delegation of City of New Orleans officials to Seattle and San Francisco to learn from those cities how they manage their nighttime economies, work with street performers, and fund their arts agencies and grant programs. We came back brimming with ideas, and more committed than ever to empower the creators of our unique culture. This trip could not have happened without the tireless assistance of Kate Becker of King County, and Ben Van Houten and Maggie Weiland of San Francisco, and our longtime friend Jocelyn Kane. We recently wrote about this trip, and what New Orleans can learn from these communities in OffBeat. Read our guest editorial and let us know your thoughts!

Ella Project receives NEA funding for 2019.

The Acting Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts has approved The Ella Project for a grant in the amount of $30,000 in their latest round of ArtWorks funding. Ella Project is proud to be one of 17 arts organizations in Louisiana to receive this funding. We look forward to working with the Arts Endowment to further the reach of our pro bono legal services and workshops for artists to ensure they are maximizing their efforts to get their work protected and out into the public sphere. Thank you to the Arts Endowment and all of the supporters of The Ella Project who ensure that all artists of Louisiana, regardless of their ability to pay, have access to high quality legal and business services to advance and control their artistic content.

Join in and support The Ella Project today!

Copyright & Contracts for Filmmakers Workshop on February 5th

Presented by  Max Hass and Bri Whetstone

Tuesday, February 5th 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Launch Pad, 400 Poydras, Suite 900

We’re excited to launch our new workshop series on Copyright and Contracts. Supported by a grant from the Emerging Philanthropists of New Orleans, this series launches by addressing copyright and contract topics relevant to filmmakers and will cover a range of legal and business topics for artists developing their careers. This workshop will be an introduction to copyright issues, including an explanation of what copyrights are, information on registering copyrights, issues related to collaborations and commissions, an overview of work for hire agreements and other contracts commonly encountered by filmmakers and producers, and more!

NOTE: This workshop is an overview of certain areas of law concerning copyright and contract, and is intended for educational purposes only. The workshop will not provide legal advice. The Ella Project will be onsite to sign up qualified clients seeking pro bono assistance. 


Licensing Music to Film & TV Workshop January 23rd

Sync Up Workshop:
Step One: Make Sure Your Copyrights are Registered
Wednesday, Jan. 23
5:30 p.m. at the Jazz & Heritage Center

Free, but Advance registration required.

The Ella Project is excited to  participate in this upcoming workshop,  a collaboration between the New Orleans Business Alliance and the Jazz & Heritage Foundation – which we see as the first step in a multi-phase effort to help more local artists get their music into film and TV productions.

The workshop features an interview with bounce rap star Big Freedia and her manager, Reid Martin of Midcitizen Entertainment, focusing on making a profitable business from a career as a musician – including licensing music to film and TV productions.

There also will be a panel discussion that explains the proper steps for registering copyrights for music, along with an overview of how best to approach film and TV productions for licensing music to them. Panelists include Robin Burgess, manager of Terence Blanchard and Quiana Lynell; film composer Jay Weigel; entertainment attorney Tim Kappel; and Victoria Adams Phipps of the New Orleans Business Alliance.

Those who attend can sign up for free assistance sessions with The Ella Project. In these sessions, attorneys will help musicians and songwriters not only organize their catalogs, but also take the necessary steps to register their copyrights.

In addition, the first 50 artists who register for the Jan. 23 workshop and attend complete an ELLA Project assistance session will earn a grant from the New Orleans Business Alliance to substantially offset the fees for registering copyrights.

Copyright Workshop on April 26th as part of World IP Day

Copyright workshop in conjunction with World IP Day

Every April 26, we celebrate World Intellectual Property Day to learn about the role that intellectual property rights (patents, trademarks, industrial designs, copyright) play in encouraging innovation and creativity.


This year, join Ella Project pro bono volunteers Max Hass and Bri Whetstone as they present Copyright Basics for the New Orleans Creative Community. This free workshop will be held on Thursday, April 26th at 12 noon at Mag’s 940 at 940 Elysian Fields. Please click here to RSVP.

The Ella Project releases our 2017 Mayoral Platform



The Ella Project respectfully submits the following recommendations to the next administration with an overarching goal to promote a healthy ecosystem where music and culture may continue to thrive in New Orleans.

As New Orleans moves towards its next municipal election, we see an opportunity to re-envision the city’s cultural policies and strategies. We see cities across the globe developing cultural strategies to develop neighborhoods, enhance education, and improve their quality of life. We see many of these communities using intentional models to create a cultural climate that New Orleans has developed organically and often without the aid of city government. To the contrary, our city has often been indifferent at best to our cultural creatives and the overall role they play in New Orleans.

Moving into our next 300 years, we believe that New Orleans’s cultural community and assets will be critical to the sustainability of New Orleans as a place for residents to live and tourists to visit.  We see an opportunity for city government to play a key role in flipping the paradigm so that music and culture is embraced and supported instead of ignored and restricted.


To accomplish this, we encourage you to envision New Orleans as a city where artists and musicians are self-empowered socially and economically, where the means of production and distribution will be rooted in the community and decision makers, and where urban planners and business leaders will appreciate the importance of creatives to their long-term interests. The relationship between the makers of culture and the mainstream power structure will be reversed.  The default policy will be to encourage city-wide music and cultural performance and tradition with limited exception, justified only by reasonable, consistent and clear considerations and measures that are not selectively enforced.

We seek a further shift of thinking regarding the public sector’s relationship with the cultural community. As respected members of their communities, artists and creatives often have a deep understanding of their neighborhood’s issues, often run grassroots arts education programs, and often participate in cherished neighborhood traditions. We believe that creatives can play a major role in working with policy makers on education, public safety, healthcare, and housing.


To achieve our goal of promoting a healthy ecosystem for music and culture in New Orleans, we recommend the next administration implement  the following:

    • Develop a comprehensive music and culture strategy using best practices and an inclusive process with measurable outcomes and accountability enforcement.
    • Establish a full-time, designated and authorized liaison between city government and the music and cultural community, with an independent budget and staff exclusively committed to working with stakeholders to address music and culture issues on both a proactive and reactive basis.  Whether a music office, a music commission, and whether a city agency and/or an independent nonprofit and/or a hybrid, include stakeholders in the development of the structure that will oversee this work.
    • Develop a comprehensive sound strategy and fully fund it for implementation before 2019.
      • Hire a qualified sound expert as an independent contractor to shepherd this process, and ensure all stakeholders have an equally reasonable part of the process.
      • Immediately formally repeal section 66-205 of the municipal Noise Ordinance, which is the city-wide ban on musical instruments after 8pm. This section has already been publicly recognized as unconstitutional by the New Orleans City Attorney’s office.
    • Promote public health care models that sustain and strengthen our cultural community culture in mind, body and spirit. Work directly with the New Orleans Musicians Clinic to develop strategies for the well-being of our musicians and culture bearers.
    • Develop a strategy for the night-time economy, including but not limited to shifting hours on several code enforcement officers to address issues such as sound, parking, litter and other matters that often fall to NOPD.


  • Support ongoing music and cultural education and performance, including neighborhood-based grassroots initiatives.


    • Reduce fees associated with parading for Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs. Establish a permit structure that encourages cultural traditions, with fair and anti-discriminatory standards.
    • Increase the Community Arts Fund by $60,000 per year for a total of $240,000 during the first term to support parading and public performance activities via the More Joy funding category and to support continued arts education via the city’s organizational funding category.

Fund local musical acts on tour by piggybacking on the State’s Music Ambassadors program.  Use existing tourism funds (as the State does) to provide a stipend to qualifying musical acts performing outside the state borders in a qualified venue. Supplement the State’s $1,000 stipend per qualifying musical act with an additional $500 from city funds.


Download the The Ella Project Music and Culture Policy Platform.

Mayoral Forum on Music Policy, Monday, September 11

The Ella Project, OffBeat Media, and The Recording Academy (GRAMMY) announce a public forum on music policy Monday, September 11th, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the historic Carver Theatre at 2101 Orleans Ave in New Orleans. All major candidates will be in attendance. The forum will be moderated by author and former Times Picayune columnist Lolis Eric Elie. Panelists include Jan Ramsey, Publisher and Editor in Chief of OffBeat Media, Fred Johnson, Co-Founder of the Black Men of Labor, Melissa Weber (DJ Soul Sister) & Larry Blumenfeld, journalist and music critic.  This forum is free and open to the public.

As both the City and the music business have changed dramatically over the last eight years, New Orleans is primed to assert its commitment to its cherished culture and place music in the forefront of its overall quality of life, business and community development strategy. Candidates will address their policies for:

  • Nurturing an environment where our citizens are able to express their cultural traditions uninhibited.
  • Ensuring New Orleans’ tradition of public performance and neighborhood music flourishes in concert with continued neighborhood development.
  • Working with the music community to utilize music to address other major issues such as public safety, education, and housing.

Please see these articles in OffBeat, and Gambit for more on this forum.

RSVP’s are requested but not required. Please rsvp through our Facebook site here.