Raucous NORDC meeting

New Orleans City Council members and residents grilled the city's park management in a three hour meeting.

  1. Vic Richard, the NORDC director, who took the brunt of the criticism, said the meeting was productive, calls for his resignation notwithstanding.
    Richard took over the parks system in 2010, overseeing a massive overhaul of the management structure and a massive rebuilding effort after Hurricane Katrina.
    In a brief interview after the meeting,
  2. Richard chalked up some of the complaints to growing pains. The department has expanded from 80 employees to over 200 and tripling the number of community centers, all while the department was being built from the ground up. Policies and procedures, new programs to target youth and adults and a massive hiring binge have all had to be juggled as the department takes off, Richard said.
  3. Many performing arts groups, most with a minority focus, said that they were being marginalized from NORD facilities, while the New Orleans Ballet Association gets exclusive use of the best dance facility.
  4. Got the following statement from NOBA:
  5. “Since 1992, the New Orleans Ballet Association (NOBA) – a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization – has partnered with NORDC to provide high-quality, tuition-free dance instruction to more than 15,500 community participants through over 45,000 classes and activities. In 2014-15, the NORDC/NOBA Center for Dance has averaged a weekly attendance of over 1,000 at six NORDC sites throughout the Greater New Orleans area, including the Lyons NORDC Center. As a 22-year partner, NOBA has been honored to be one of many community organizations who work with NORDC to provide programming at the various NORDC sites, including a full day of programming each day at the Lyons NORDC Center that serves community members ages 3-80+. Programming is open to the public and includes senior dance fitness classes, yoga, tai chi, classes for adults with disabilities, early childhood classes, and youth dance classes. The NORDC/NOBA Center for Dance pre-professional program prepares students who wish to seek a career in dance, providing those students with training led by an exceptional local faculty and world renowned dance companies and artists.

    The NORDC/NOBA Center for Dance serves an incredibly diverse array of participants of all ages, ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds. Through its own fundraising efforts, grants, and the support of generous sponsors, NOBA is able to provide such high-quality dance instruction tuition-free and construct a professional dance studio. The dedication and success of the NORDC/NOBA Center for Dance students is a direct reflection of the quality of the program. Students often go on to perform on national stages and are hired by top dance companies.”
  6. NORDC officials acknowledged that they need to improve communication with the public.
  7. Richard later clarified this. He said that he did instruct his staff to try to avoid forming prgramming partnerships with groups that would become rivals. However, he said, that is not a hard and fast policy. For example, several of the groups complaining about the Ballet Association are in the process of forming formal agreements with NORDC.
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