Hurricane Ida Update

September 15, 2021

Thank you to everyone who has reached out and checked in, all of our staff are now back in New Orleans and we are beginning to tend to the needs of the land, buildings, and artists we serve. We have been able to direct funds to local artists awarded residencies in the 2021-22 season by offering to pay out stipends early, making a small dent in the great need of our local creative sector.

While the buildings sustained minimal damage, a large water oak fell in the middle of the carport and has disrupted utilities. Repairs have begun, but we are currently postponing residencies while they are made and hope to restart our program within a few weeks.

A report from Environmental Curator David Baker:
Hurricane Ida severely damaged about 5% of the living trees greater than 10 inches in diameter, largely affecting Water Oaks and Pecans. Three large trees near the buildings and meadow fell. Preliminary data shows the Woods receiving 60 mph winds with gusts over 100 mph. New holes in the canopy left by fallen trees will promote growth of vines and shrubs, leading to a very different forest over the next few years. A competition is underway between these fast-growing species and the slower growing trees that have historically made up the Bottomland Hardwood Forest. Two hurricanes in 10 months is extremely rare, and there is no research currently available on how this will effect the land. 

After Hurricane Katrina our organization dedicated itself to supporting artists thinking about the environment, and with each new disaster that focus has only deepened. Hurricane Ida, the second major storm in 10 months to hit New Orleans, shows us that this work is urgently important –  not just for the survival of our communities, but for our collective wellbeing and flourishing as well. We are now in a period of recovery, but recovery of what? Recovery of the ways things were, the status quo? We need a new kind of recovery, new ideas, new ways of addressing the challenges these storms bring to the communities of Southeast Louisiana. Our task remains supporting the artists and scholars who do this very visioning.

Former Scholarly Retreat Resident Andy Horowitz explores some of these themes in his thoughtful piece in the New York Times.

In the immediate moment there is much need. While any list will be incomplete, please considering supporting these efforts from our friends and colleagues if you are able:

Another Gulf is Possible
Arts Council New Orleans Artist Relief Fund
Bayou Fund
The Descendants Project
Inclusive Louisiana
Lowlander Center
Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans Relief Fund
Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe
RISE St. James
United Houma Nation