New Orleans Center for Creative Arts

New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, or NOCCA, is the regional, pre-professional arts training center for high school students in Louisiana. NOCCA opened in 1973 as a professional arts training center for secondary school-age children. Located in New Orleans, it provides intensive instruction in culinary arts, creative writing, dance, media arts, music (classical, jazz, vocal), theatre arts (drama, musical theatre, theatre design), and visual arts while demanding simultaneous academic excellence.

New Orleans Center for Creative Arts
NOCCA Logo.jpg
NOCCA Campus at night.jpg
2800 Chartres Street


United States
Coordinates29°57′48.02″N 90°2′58.97″W / 29.9633389°N 90.0497139°W / 29.9633389; -90.0497139Coordinates: 29°57′48.02″N 90°2′58.97″W / 29.9633389°N 90.0497139°W / 29.9633389; -90.0497139
PresidentKyle Wedberg
Grades9 to 12

NOCCA was founded by a group of artists, educators, business leaders, and community activists. Tuition is free to all Louisiana students who meet audition requirements. Students from over 100 public, private, parochial and home schools attend in the afternoon or late-day as well as Academic Studio students who attend NOCCA for the full day. Academic Studio students, accepted by a successful arts audition, learn through problem-solving and project-based learning. Students graduate from NOCCA receiving a TOPS University Diploma. Every year, 95-98% of NOCCA graduates go on to college and conservatory programs across the country. Approximately 80% of NOCCA students receive scholarships to pursue such higher education as well.

Graduates include Terence Blanchard, Harry Connick Jr., Branford Marsalis, Wynton Marsalis, Jeanne-Michele Charbonnet, Mary Catherine Garrison, Anthony Mackie, Wendell Pierce, Gary Solomon Jr.,[1] Jon Batiste, Joshua Stewart, Gustave Blache III, Nicole Cooley, Erica Wiltz, Nicholas Payton, Trombone Shorty, Poppy Tooker, Terrance Osborne, Wanda Boudreaux and DJ Hollygrove of The Chopstars.

In 2000, NOCCA moved to a campus in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood. Before that, NOCCA was housed for many years in an old elementary school building on Perrier Street in Uptown New Orleans.

Mission and curriculumEdit

NOCCA provides professional arts training, coaching and performance opportunities for high school level students who aspire to be creative artists. Recognizing the enrichment of society through the arts, NOCCA will continue development and implementation of a program of intensive instruction within the learning environment of an arts conservatory. At the center of the instruction program is the philosophy of artist/teacher as mentor. As practicing professionals in their fields, faculty members remain engaged in such activity at levels appropriate to the stage of their professional careers and in ways that benefit the quality of instruction at NOCCA.

NOCCA students receive pre-professional arts training in one of eleven different arts disciplines, and additionally may participate in a full-day academic program, the Academic Studio.

  • Classical Instrumental Music: Intensive individual and chamber music performance training is coupled with theory, ear training, music history and composition, along with personalized one-on-one training. Bert Braud was the original classical music head (from which Wynton Marsalis was an early graduate); one of the original classical graduates was award-winning pianist and composer Moses Hogan (now deceased).
  • Creative Writing: In classes concentrating on aesthetic quality and technique, students study novels, short stories, poetry, creative nonfiction, and films in a variety of genres. Students discuss and analyze texts, then apply that knowledge to their own writing. Students write almost every day and are given exercises that encourage work that is both imaginative and technically skilled. Students study works in depth, and produce a literary magazine each year called Umbra.
  • Culinary Arts: NOCCA's newest arts discipline, offers students a highly aggressive program in core skills; history; regional, national and international cuisine; nutrition; kitchen management; marketing; gardening; and personal aesthetics.
  • Dance: Students study dance history and undergo intensive group and individual training in ballet, modern, jazz and tap dance in preparation for careers in dance performance and choreography.
  • Drama: Students master vocal control (projection, pronunciation, resonance, pitch, tone, inflection, dialect), movement, acting and improvisation as well as study in theatre history, literature, criticism, stagecraft and technical production.
  • Jazz: Students receive intensive training in traditional, swing, bebop, model and free jazz idioms. They train on at least two instruments. Core music curriculum requirements also include theory, ear-training, style history and piano. The jazz program was recently headed by noted New Orleans clarinetist Alvin Batiste before his death; the original head of the jazz department was renowned pianist Ellis Marsalis, Jr. (father of the musicians Branford Marsalis, Wynton Marsalis, Delfeayo Marsalis, and Jason Marsalis).
  • Media Arts: The curriculum encompasses cinematography; directing; editing; lighting; computer and stop motion animation; signal processing; special effects; streaming media; story boarding; script-writing; film history and theory; digital mixing; MIDI; sound effects; audio engineering and record production; and multi-track recording. Students train on industry-standard software programs in video and audio production.
  • Musical Theatre combines technique in three disciplines: vocal music, acting and dance. The curriculum also covers music theory and musical theatre history.
  • Theatre Design: The curriculum includes lighting, sound, costume, and scenic design. Each requires training in history and computer assisted design software. Production roles, rendering, drafting, model making, and the creation of design concepts through script analysis are all mastered in the course of staging eight to ten productions annually.
  • Visual Arts: Students are introduced to and trained in a range of media, including drawing, painting, color theory, printmaking, ceramics, film and digital photography, computer graphics, web design, woodworking, metalworking, sculpture, bronze casting, bookmaking, encaustic, digital animation and art history.
  • Vocal music students master proper vocal technique; an extensive repertoire in Italian, French, German, Latin, Spanish and English; as well as theory, ear-training, style history and piano. The classical vocal program centers on operatic-style singing.

Inaugurated in the fall of 2011, NOCCA's innovative Academic Studio is a full-day, diploma-granting attendance option. Using the same master-apprentice teaching model that has defined NOCCA's arts-training environment, the Academic Studio offers students an interconnected approach to learning in math, science and the humanities. The curriculum is designed to be highly integrated: math and science are taught together, English and history are taught together, and each academic area is connected to arts training. The Academic Studio is grounded in the same master-apprentice approach that sits at the heart of NOCCA's arts training program. In addition to their academic faculty, students have the opportunity to learn from guest lecturers and the team of scholars from around the world who have helped develop the new curriculum structure. To enroll in the Academic Studio, prospective students must successfully complete an arts audition and be accepted into a Level I program in one of NOCCA's eleven arts disciplines.

Admissions processEdit

NOCCA acceptance is by audition only.

College acceptanceEdit

Over 95% of NOCCA graduates are accepted into universities and conservatories each year. NOCCA alumni have studied at Ball State, Berklee, Boston Conservatory, California College of the Arts, California Institute of the Arts, Curtis Institute of Music, Cooper Union, Emerson, Florida State, Full Sail University, Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, Juilliard, Loyola University New Orleans, Louisiana State, Parsons School of Design, Purchase, Southern Methodist, Tulane, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, University of Massachusetts Amherst, University of New Orleans, and Xavier University of Louisiana.

Notable alumniEdit

NOCCA InstituteEdit

The NOCCA Institute is NOCCA's community support and advocacy arm, providing supplemental funding for NOCCA students and advocacy for NOCCA’s programs. With the support of corporations, foundations, and individuals across Louisiana and the globe, the Institute has helped turn NOCCA into a flagship professional arts training facility.


  1. ^ "Overview". Retrieved September 17, 2018.
  2. ^ MacCash, Doug (February 1, 2012). "2012 New Orleans Jazz Fest poster of Trombone Shorty is a gem". Times-Picayune. New Orleans, LA. Retrieved March 25, 2018.
  3. ^ Fensterstock, Alison (July 30, 2014). "Jon Batiste and Stay Human appear on 'The Colbert Report'". Times-Picayune. New Orleans, LA. Retrieved March 25, 2018.
  4. ^ a b "1974: The curtain goes up on NOCCA, transforming New Orleans' arts community". Times-Picayune. New Orleans, LA. May 10, 2017. Retrieved March 25, 2018.
  5. ^ "Bella Blue y el encanto del burlesque - Niu". Niu (in Spanish). November 30, 2016. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Awards for Arts Achievements". Retrieved March 25, 2018.
  7. ^ Stroup, Sheila (April 23, 2015). "New Orleans Jazz Fest puts NOCCA musicians, students and teachers in the spotlight at Cultural Pavilion". Times-Picayune. New Orleans, LA. Retrieved March 25, 2018.

External linksEdit