This fall, New Orleans Airlift is creating a permanent home for the Music Box Village!
About this project
What is The Music Box?
The Music Box is a place where play, imagination, experimentation, collaboration, community and tons of hard work come together as artist-made, interactive “musical houses.” They can be cacophonously played by the public, or harmoniously performed by professional musicians.
The Music Box is an internationally celebrated and locally loved public art project, inspired by the unique musical and architectural culture of our home city of New Orleans. The project pushes artistic boundaries, but more importantly it brings together people of all stripes for a heartwarming, creative experience that has equal appeal for a musical giant such as Thurston Moore or a gaggle of 5-year-olds.
Now, we’re giving The Music Box a permanent home: The Music Box Village. After building and tearing down several temporary versions, it has been our long-held dream to install our musical houses in a place where we can continue to elaborate on and improve the project, while it grows with its community.
The Music Box Village
We plan to open in October 2016 with a dozen already-completed musical houses, in the Bywater neighborhood just a few blocks from where the project originated. Over time, The Music Box Village will grow, through artist residencies, to become a landmark cultural destination, and a place to grow up in for this city’s children. As an interactive art park by day, and a one-of-a-kind musical venue by night, we know that The Music Box Village will be a site for renewable creativity, learning and play, and a wonderland of awe and inspiration for years to come.
The project is the evolving brainchild of our nonprofit arts organization New Orleans Airlift. Begun in 2011 by local artists Delaney Martin, Taylor Shepherd, Jay Pennington and visiting artist Swoon, the project has grown mightily since its inception through the hard work and idiosyncratic vision of hundreds more collaborators to date.
Many of you have been with us along this journey for the past five years, since our original Music Box project which featured 25 artists and another 50 performing musicians. Since then, we have worked with dozens more amazing artists, musicians, inventors, architects, youth participants and many more voices for this radically collaborative project. The project has visited other cities in the U.S. such as Tampa and Shreveport, and even gone to Kiev, Ukraine.
Most recently, in 2015, we presented The Music Box: Roving Village in a six-week installation in City Park, which attracted over ten thousand visitors and featured Wilco, Solange Knowles, William Parker, Arto Lindsay, Preservation Hall, the Lost Bayou Ramblers, Tank & the Bangas and more of our favorite musicians, both locally and internationally acclaimed. Nearly 2,000 students have visited The Music Box for interactive workshops, while roughly 30,000 visitors have created joyous noise with us over the lifespan of the project.
Our hundreds of Kickstarter supporters have made these projects possible. We will continue to work with local and international creators, providing paid opportunities for artists, builders and performers, as we deepen the meaning and the possibilities of musical architecture for our broader community.
What will your contribution support?
This spring, we closed financing to buy a 55,000 square foot forest and adjoining fabrication warehouse, where we are currently hard at work, prepping our grounds and tuning up our musical houses. This summer, we plan to install the houses, along with some exciting new additions, in time for a grand opening this October.
This is a big gamble for us! We have crazy new expenses and a sizable mortgage – but we went for it because we believe that The Music Box will not only be a culture transformer, but a transformational experience for our organization, and everyone who gets a job, learns a skill, performs, or comes to visit us along the way. How amazing to have created something that we absolutely love, and that can grow and sustain itself!
Some of the costs we will incur in the next five months of build-out, before we open our doors:
- Arborist work on our grove of trees
- Drainage: in heavy rain, our lot becomes a pond…
- Building our parking lot
- Landscaping and building a “green” fence around sculptures
- Installation of our musical houses
- Sound and lighting system
- Seating, walkways, other connective infrastructure
- Staff and extra hands for events, production, and more
Nearly ten years into the journey, this is the year we transform – with your help – from a nomadic, peripatetic organization into a fully-fledged arts institution.
Now, for the first time, we invite you, our audiences, friends and collaborators, to become supporting members of New Orleans Airlift as we put down serious roots. We are, right now, developing an exciting lineup of local and international performers to present in the 2016-2017 season, and new works, including a Mardi Gras Indian house with Big Chief Darryl Montana of the Yellow Pocahontas.
We need a lot of help – our staff is only five people! This is a huge project with many dimensions, and we are putting our hearts and souls (and wallets) into making it happen this year. Our greatest strength has always been our multitude of diverse collaborators, volunteers and supporters from the city of New Orleans and far beyond.
We especially encourage our out-of-town supporters, if you love New Orleans, to plant a seed here which will grow into a fantastic destination. Come lend a hand, and give now, to help build the permanent Music Box you will be able to return to again and again.
We can’t wait to re-open our doors and welcome you to our new, magical village this fall.
As a 501c3 nonprofit, your donation is tax-deductible! Contact us for a receipt along with your reward.
Risks and challenges
New Orleans Airlift has completed several large-scale installations of the Music Box over the past five years, including two successful completed Kickstarter campaigns. We also produce events and shows involving hundreds of participants, so we are well-versed in pulling off crazy ambitious dreams. We have some great advisors and help in this new venture, and do not foresee any stumbling blocks.