On August 29, 2005, the face of the City of New Orleans was forever changed. Casualties of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina included many of the historic buildings and performing arts facilities that have defined New Orleans through the decades. While not as tragic as the loss of lives and homes, the devastation to these buildings was a loss to the cultural fabric of the city.
Among these venues, the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts , located in Armstrong Park, was only a shell of its former self after Hurricane Katrina. Over 14 feet of water in the basement damaged the motor control center, orchestra lifts, HVAC controls and sewerage ejector pumps. Wind damaged the roofs, rear doors, the stage and other fixtures, as well as shattered an 8x16 window panel.
Under the leadership of Mayor C. Ray Nagin, combined with the efforts of the City of New Orleans Chief Administrative Office and the Capital Projects Group, funding was finally secured and construction began in April 2008 on the Mahalia Jackson Theater. The grand reopening in January 2009 is only as a result of the bold efforts of Mayor Nagin, the New Orleans City Council, hundreds of City Staff, contractors, workers, and artists that have tirelessly dedicated themselves to this project.
The Mahalia Jackson Theater comes alive once more with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, the New Orleans Opera Association, the New Orleans Ballet Association, the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra and Broadway Shows. World renown entertainers from the realm of Comedy, Gospel, Blues, R&B and Rock have once again opted to add New Orleans back on their tour schedules. The reopening of this venue is indeed a Triumphant Return for all.