Photograph by Jonathan Bachman
Way back in October when I first began to formulate the story idea on the NOLA Art House's tree house installation, the biggest questions always had to do with the legality of the joint. On the one hand, here you had this magical tree house and a great group of residents that were putting on just killer parties and I wanted to repay their kindness with some exposure that would benefit the tree house and future parties. On the other hand, how was the City of New Orleans going to react when they saw a tree house on the cover of Gambit with a story about all the crazy parties?
Well, we got our answer and it sucks. The City of New Orleans has officially sent a cease and desist order to the residents of the NOLA Art House and, thus, their upcoming three-day festival has been canceled. That means all the artists that they had committed money to have been, with less than a week's notice, been told that they cannot perform. It means the Art House has to figure out how to reimburse all the pre-sold tickets that they were giving away. And it means that all future parties are in danger.
Now, there are some legitimate concerns that need to be dealt with (zoning, classifying the tree house, etc...) but the fact that New Orleans has allowed the Art House residents to put on one-night parties on multiple occasions (with the blessing of the NOPD, mind you) but refuses to allow a three-day festival during Mardi Gras seems a bit absurd. It's not like this is going to be the only party in town and it's not like a three-day festival somehow makes the tree house more dangerous or a greater liability.
Now these are just assumptions on my end because I haven't had a chance to talk to the residents about this ordeal (and I don't think I will seeing as how this is between them and the City government and it's not like my last article helped that relationship any) but here is what we do know: The Tree House needs our help. If you have partied there, visited on an off-day or just have driven by it on I-10, you know that the Tree House is a special place that needs to be preserved. Join the cause at 1614esplanade.com or on their Facebook page and let's see if we can't get the City to come to their senses.
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