The organization also unveils special program for live music venues

The New Orleans Tourism and Cultural Fund (NOTCF) today (Thursday, May 13) to announced the launch of their initial grants program for culture bearers.

For its initial grant program, NOTCF will distribute $600,000 for a period that begins May 17 and ends June 30, or until funds have been exhausted. Culture bearers and programs can be funded at one of three levels.

  • Level One: Mini-grants up to $2500 provide support for smaller projects and program support with limited scopes and periods, such as a single creative production or single community event.
  • Level Two: Mid-level grants between $2,501 and $10,000 will support projects and programs that reach a larger audience, train a sub-section of cultural bearers/cultural workers for specific tasks over a limited period, support larger community events with a broader impact on the cultural economy.
  • Level Three: The Fund’s largest grants provide up to $20,000 for larger-scale projects and programs that stretch over a larger time period, reach a wide audience, train a class of culture bearer/worker in multiple skills, larger multi-community/city-wide events.

Grant funds have also been set aside to help live music venues pay for artists and meet state-mandated requirements related to personal protective equipment. The special music grants include $2,000 to cover PPE costs and an additional $1,000 once the live booking entertainment has been verified.

NOTCF Board president, staff and board members.

“The mission of the NOTCF is to support our culture bearers, the cultural industries and businesses to advance sustainable tourism,” said NOTCF President Lisa D.  Alexis.

Alexis thanked board members and staff for their work to launch the grant program and extended special thanks to Mayor LaToya Cantrell for “her vision” to provide direct support to individuals in the cultural community—the musicians, singers, Mardi Gras Indian maskers, artists, and more who make New Orleans a unique city that, in 2019, attracted nearly 20 million visitors and nearly $19 billion in tourism spending.

Revenue for the Fund comes from the hotel occupancy tax tourists and others pay each night they stay in a hotel room in Orleans Parish.  NOTCF was established one year ago, in May 2020, by City Council ordinance, with its creation coming out of Mayor Cantrell’s plan that merged the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation (NOTMC), which had largely served as a  tourism promotion agency, with New Orleans & Co., which had focused its efforts on attracting big conventions and business travelers to the city.

With the merger, New Orleans & Co. now focuses on attracting all types of visitors and tourists. And the new organization, the New Orleans Tourism and Cultural Foundation, provides support to the artists, culture bearers, and small business owners that many see as the lifeblood of the tourism industry.

Board chairman Lloyd Dennis says the Fund is important to supporting New Orleans’ “authentic culture and make sure that it lives, thrives and evolves.”

Big Chief Demond Melancon

And NOTCF board member, contemporary artist, and local culture bearer Big Chief Demond Melancon of the Young Seminole Hunters said he was especially excited to let his fellow Mardi Gras Indian maskers know that this Fund is real and available to them.

“I have been in the culture. For over 30 years, I have been masking. And they make money off of us, and we know that,” Melancon said. “Through me standing here, I want the culture and masking Indians in New Orleans to realize that they can go to this fund for help to be able to buy feathers, to be able to buy beads, to be able to buy needle and thread to continue this tradition that we have been doing for over 250 years in this city.”

For more information or to apply for a grant, visit

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