The Performing Arts Return to Historic Bayou Road with the Opening of the André Cailloux Center for Performing Arts and Cultural Justice

The former St. Rose de Lima Church on Bayou Road will once again serve as a site for the performing arts in New Orleans. Led by three community members, Lauren E. Turner, Dr. David Robinson-Morris and Dr. Robin G. Vander, the André Cailloux Center for Performing Arts and Cultural Justice is envisioned as a hub for performing arts. scene and a promoter of cultural justice for organizations based in New Orleans.

Located on historic Bayou Road, the site of the former church was transformed into a theater space in 2018, as a joint project by Alembic Community Development and Rose Community Development Corporation. With this new initiative, the André Cailloux Center for the Performing Arts and Cultural Justice will function as a hub for the performing arts, a meeting space for community organizations, a place for programming and public gathering, and limited rentals for special events.

Returning to the historic origins of the location, Center Cailloux sees this endeavor as an act of reclaiming historic Indigenous and Black presences along the Bayou Road corridor. At the heart of its mission is a commitment to advancing the power of the performing arts, addressing issues of cultural justice, modeling cooperative leadership, and building economic freedom for majority-led global organizations.

The site will serve as a home for local performing arts organizations run primarily by black people who have operated without permanent access to their own performance spaces. In creating the Cailloux Center, co-founders Turner, Robinson-Morris and Vander were aware of the economic impact that black performing arts and culture had on local and regional economies, while artists and businesses they themselves have often struggled to support themselves financially. and their work. By creating an organization that would provide the space and infrastructure, Center Cailloux addresses this and other historical inequalities within the performing arts community and the community at large. The strategy is to create a performing arts ecosystem home to seven organizations, each with its own performing arts season. Of the seven, three will be designated “legacy residents,” organizations with a long history of providing live entertainment that have contributed to African American culture in New Orleans.
While it is still in its infancy, the Center Cailloux already has the support of local and national organizations who easily understand the interest of such a project. The Greater New Orleans Foundation provided funds to facilitate the center’s strategic planning. Most recently, No Dream Deferred-NOLA under Turner’s direction received a grant from the Mellon Foundation that will support both programming, capital improvements and the purchase of equipment.

New Orleans-based Junebug Productions has agreed to join the Cailloux Center as a legacy partner. With deep roots in the civil rights movement and Free Southern Theatre, Junebug Productions’ mission is to create and support artistic works that challenge and confront the inequitable conditions that have historically impacted the black community. Founded by John O’Neal in 1980, Junebug has cultivated a history spanning over forty-two years producing and presenting performance art that amplifies Black stories and celebrates the richness of Black life and culture. As a legacy partner, Junebug will leverage its history and expertise in the performing arts to support the Center in its mission.

The André Cailloux Center for the Performing Arts and Cultural Justice honors the life and legacy of late 19th century free person of color André Cailloux. Understanding that history is never past but always carried with us into the present, the Center stimulates new revolutions and pursues the pursuit of freedom and justice by engaging the imagination and (re)vivifying the spirit. human through the performing and cultural arts. Through the arts and in public conversations, the Center seeks to make visible and disrupt institutionalized systems of oppression, to use storytelling and memory as ways to honor black culture and reclaim identity, and to promote self-determination in association with the members of New Orleans. community.

André Cailloux, was a Union Army officer and one of the first to die in action during the American Civil War. Born in 1825; Cailloux had been enslaved, however, upon request, he was granted his freedom at the age of 21. As a youth, he learned the trade of cigar maker and over time became a successful businessman, landowner, and well-regarded member of New Orleans. community of free people of color.

Although seriously wounded in action during the war, Captain Cailloux led a valiant effort in inspiring others under his command not to surrender or retreat. On May 27, 1863, Captain Cailloux died in action, and for over forty days his body lay on the battlefield until Confederate-held Port Hudson was surrendered. It was only then that her remains were claimed and sent home for burial.

On July 29, 1863, the funeral of André Cailloux took place in New Orleans under the presidency of Father Claude Paschal Maistre, a French Catholic priest and abolitionist. The funeral procession stretched for several blocks as residents lined the city streets paying their respects to Cailloux for the dignity with which he conducted himself in life, his heroism in battle and his willingness to die in the pursuit of freedom and liberty. His final resting place is at Saint Louis Cemetery No. 2.

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