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Help us stop the closing of programs at the NORDC Annunciation Center

at 800 Race street.    

“The community needs this facility to keep the children served off the street and with options that provide them a safe environment to learn and grow. Let's make sure they have the 800 Race Street facility as a safe haven, something all kids deserve!!”

 

   With no public notice to the Lower Garden District neighborhood this facility serves. NORDC has decided to close the Annunciation Center facility at 800 Race Street to turn it into offices for the NORDC Administration. Here’s some ways you can help in this effort!!!

   Please sign our petition and leave a comment to tell the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission to save the facility for our children and community. There are plenty of places that the city has available for offices. You access the petition on line at:  

 

http://www.change.org/petitions/new-orleans-recreational-department-commission-stop-the-closing-of-annunciation-square-community-facility?utm_campaign=signature_receipt  .

 

 

 

       Spread the word amongst your circle of friends. Post this flyer in coffee shops, stores, churches, barber/beauty shops are your neighborhood.

TIME LINE OF UNFAIRNESS 

Below, please find a brief summary/timeline of our efforts to obtain an official CEA with NORD: CEA= COOPERATIVE ENDEVER AGREEMENT
 
Under Charlene Braud (2005-2006) - we were promised a CEA but Katrina hit.
 
Under Larry Barabino Administration (2008- 2011) - we were again promised a CEA, after a few weeks he came back with the decision that a CEA couldn’t be granted because the building was being used as an executive office, which apparently is not a valid reason for denial.
 
In April 2012, under Victor Richard’s administration, we again submitted a CEA application, petitioned for it at the NORDC monthly meeting and were granted a five year CEA. The final legal document when it was developed without our review was submitted and voted on one year later, winning approval by the NORDC commission board and then and forwarded to us for signature. After reading the document we found a discrepancy on Page 2, Item II, stating that services would be offered for free. We have an established history of offering open and free classes to children.  But charging for all adult classes and this was stated in our scope of work.  This has stalled the final completion of the CEA. Since then it has been rejected.  We were told we’d have to resubmit the application and again we were left without at CEA.
 
In January 2013- we were encouraged to submit a 2013 Camp Provider application to run a Summer Camp. On January 8th we submitted the Camp Provider application as well as a Service Provider application in the event we couldn’t get a camp. On February 14, 2013 we received notification from Ms. Cannon-Brightman that we had been awarded a camp CEA to be held at the Treme Center. We signed and submitted the CEA as requested. We immediately went about recruiting staff and camp participants.  Three weeks later we received a call from Ms. Cannon-Brightman informing us that we were not being considered for a camp for reasons unknown. As of today, we never received any official letter informing us that we would not be a camp provider. On March 6th, we got a request from Ms. Cannon-Brightman to accept a service provider CEA instead. We signed and submitted it.
 
On April 16, 2013 we were called in to meeting with Mary Joe Webster, NORDC Chief Operations Officer to discuss why we did not sign the CEA. Curtis met with Ms. Webster and explained that our major concern with the agreement was the wording in the CEA that said we would offer free classes to the general public.  The statement should have read the following: “we offer free classes to kids 18 and under.”   We were then told that we could not have a CEA if we were going to charge for classes at the NORD facility.  At the same time, Crescent City Lights has been using the Gallier hall facility since 2005/06- charging audiences to attend performances by her children’s group at the Gallier hall facility, as well as a registration fee for the children to participate in the performances.  We then asked Ms. Webster to send him a copy of the guidelines of the regulations for prohibiting private contractors as we are identified in the CEA for charging for the services. I have not received any documentation of the official NORD policy to date.
 
In the same meeting we were informed that the Annunciation site would become an executive office building, and we would have to relocate to the Lyons Center in a room that was considerably smaller than our current space. Subsequently we learned that NOBA (who also ran classes out of the Annunciation Center had been in collaboration with NORD to refurbish a room within the newly renovated Lyons Center that NOBA has been granted exclusivity to use this room. It appears that NOBA collaborated with NORD during planning phases for the Lyons Center renovation.  Casa Samba was never notified or given the opportunity for a similar collaboration when the building was being designed and we have never been shown any floor plans.
 
On April 29, 2013, we were called to meeting with Victor Richard and Program Director, Shawn C. Wyatt to discuss about our program and the restructuring of the Annunciation Center facility. Mr. Richard requested that Casa Samba present a budget to NORD that would show operational fees in order to provide the services that we have been providing for the past 12 years.  We were then told that the decision to close the Annunciation Center was final and that we were to vacate the facility by June 3, 2013 with no further discussion. I then asked if NORD had informed the community of this move. Mr. Richard stated, “you can go and talk to the community, the NORDC commission, the city council members or whomever, but my decision is final and not open for discussion.”
 
Mr. Richards then offered us the opportunity of buying a firehouse specifically, the Keller Center in Central City. But when I attended the NORDC meeting on May 7, 2013, there was a gentleman who represented the Keller Center Community and was concerned about why the Keller Center wasn’t being renovated when Lyons and Treme Center were. It seems strange how he could offer to sell me a center that was currently occupied by another community group with what seemed to be no approval from the NORDC.
 
On May 8, 7:43am I received what I feel was a very intimidating email from NORD Director Vic Richards:
 
“Good morning Curtis,
 
I acknowledge your interest to walk through Lyons Center. I will ask Shawn Wyatt, Recreation Centers Director to accommodate your request.
 
Please be informed that you have not completed your CEA in order to meet partnership compliance as mandated by NORDC Commission Policy. We anticipate your attention of this matter and continue to offer our assistance and services as needed.
 
Victor N. Richard, III
CEO, NORDC”
 
I feel that this message is a backlash to Casa Samba and the Community’s opposition to removing programing from Annunciation Center. Is Casa Samba the only partner that has not completed a CEA and if not did they receive such an email. Again this is very unfair statement that singles out Casa Samba. I am unclear on what this has to do with Casa Samba not wanting to be in compliance given the circumstances of the improper wording of a CEA that was actually approved and in the stages of being informed by the NORD office as how to proceed to re-apply for the current CEA.
 
 
 
 
 
Acts of unfairness and un-equal opportunities towards 
the Community and Casa Samba
 
•       With out any public notice to the community NORD took possession of the 800 Race St. location formally known as the Kuji Center a building designated for children’s programs. This building was dedicated by the Irish Chanel Neighborhood Association in 1998 - Community
 
•       Larry Barabino Administration told me that Casa Samba could not run the same after school program the Kuji center ran prior to the NORD moving into the building at 4pm, because they did not want children’s activity during business hours. Weeks later NOBA started their children’s classes at 4pm during business hours. - Community
 
•       NOBA has been given exclusivity to a room and that no one else could use it at newly renovated Lyons Center with out any open bid or public notice. - Casa Samba & Community
 
•       Crescent City Lights Youth Theater will been given exclusivity to a room at Gernon Brown Center. - Casa Samba
 
•       In 2006 Crescent City Lights Youth Theater was 90% exclusivity to Ty-Tracy Theater without any previous partnership with NORD. Casa Samba
 
•       Our CEA was denied because we refuse to sign the CEA document after it had been re-written by the law department then voted on and passed by the N.O.R.D. Commission. In a meeting with Mary-Jo Webster and Brenda Labuea on April 16, 2013, I attempted to explain that our major concern with the agreement was the wording in the CEA that said we would offer free classes to the general public.  The statement should have read the following: “we offer free classes to kids 18 and under and seniors.”   We were then told that we could not have a CEA if we were going to charge for classes at the NORD facility. 
 
    In this very same meeting I requested Ms. Webster and Ms. Brenda Labuea to send me a copy of the guidelines of the regulations for prohibiting private contractors as we are identified in the CEA for charging for the services. I have not received any documentation of the official NORD policy to date.   Casa Samba
 
•       At the same time, Crescent City Lights has been using the Gallier hall a N.O.R.D.  Facility, since 2006- to present charging audiences to attend performances. N.O.R.D.  Summer Camp Partners holding Summer camps for kids will charge a registration fee from a range of  $50 to $340 and on top of the funding N.O.R.D. has provided
- Casa Samba
 
•       Casa Samba was also approved for a Summer Camp CEA it was signed and sent to N.O.R.D. and received email conformation say congratulations of becoming a Summer Camp provider. With in one week I received a phone call from N.O.R.D. representative that I would NOT have a Summer Camp and as of this date I have not received any documented notice as to why I was denied or refused the opportunity to have a summer camp. After informing my family members of Casa Samba and community members that Casa Samba was having a summer camp, posting it on the Internet. I was not able to give them an explanation to why the Summer Camp was canceled. When many families in the community and greater New Orleans area was ready to sign the children to a very unique program. Both Casa Samba and the Community of families looking forward to this special program feel disappointed and disrespected that this issue was grossly ignored to the point of no communication what so ever we are still waiting for answers. - Casa Samba & Community
 
•       Again in 2013 with out any public notice to the community N.O.R.D.C. plans on closing the programing down at the NORD Annunciation Center in order to turn the building into administrative offices, which was never the intention of this building when it was built in 1998 specifically for children’s programs. - Community
 
 
Casa Samba would like clarifications on the following issues:
 
•       The revival of our 5 year CEA Application with the city/NORDC.

•       What is the reason Casa Samba’s Camp was revoked after it’s approval?
 
•       We would like equal opportunity / security of a permanent home for Casa Samba.
 
•       Comparable arrangements like you have with NOBA, Crescent City Youth Theater
and/or Anthony Bean Theater.
 
•       We would like to have in writing that if we move from the Annunciation Center, that when NORDC has secured a permanent office space elsewhere, we can return to the Annunciation Center to continue programming for our community.
 
•       What is the policy or section of by laws or guidelines governing partners as private contractors having exclusivity to a space in a public building?
 
•       What is the policy or section of by laws or guidelines governing NORDC partners as private contractors to be linked with NORDC funding source information?
 
•       What is the policy that governs providers within the NORD facilities with and without CEA’s?
 
•       What is the policy or section of by laws or guidelines governing partners as private contractors collecting registration fees for their services?
 
I look forward to Hearing your feed back with you to discuss this matter further.
 
Sincerely yours,
Curtis Pierre
Director/Founder Casa Samba
Escola de Samba, CASA SAMBA, Inc.

CASA SAMBA FAQs About the removal of Casa Samba from it's community


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Testimonial
We have been attending the drum classes for children on Saturdays for the past 3 months.  My 4 year old son absolutely loves it.  Mr. Pierre is a wonderful teacher. He has the gift of communicating with the children.  They are captivated by him.  We are so grateful to have learned about this class. I wish we ha started coming sooner.....thank you Casa Samba for giving our family this opportunity!   Denise Woodall- Ruff