Young Bloods: Gene Meneray

One local organization is dedicated to helping New Orleans artists and nonprofits succeed in a big way. Launched as a joint program of the Arts Council of New Orleans, Tipitina’s Foundation and Tulane Law School, The Ella Project offers high-level, pro bono legal assistance to low and moderate income artists, musicians and grassroots nonprofits.

As Co-Founder of The Ella Project, Gene Meneray understands just how special the city’s rich cultural scene can be. “As for rationale, we understood that while New Orleans artists and musicians are some of the best in the world, they were often inadequately compensated and even marginalized due to lack of infrastructure and equitable access to resources.” But with help from The Ella Project, artists can be proactive about protecting their rights and tending to additional legal matters. The Ella Project developed a standing clinic so the clients could get quick, comprehensive legal service. Whether the artist wants to go on a worldwide tour, launch a neighborhood after school program, or get fundraising, “The key is figuring out where the artist wants to go, and using our set of skills to help them get there,” says Meneray.

Because they’re working with such unique talents, every client is different. Meneray says that working with individual artists is similar to working with thousands of small businesses. “There is no one big moment or press conference announcing 800 new jobs from one company, rather it’s a series of emails, thank you notes and anecdotes, and you add them up and see the value and importance of the work,” says Meneray.

For the future, there are plans to expand The Ella Project’s reach to innovators and inventors in New Orleans as well. It’s all part of a broader plan to benefit the New Orleans area as a whole.

Get Involved

Support for this organization is crucial. “The Ella Project’s work literally could not be done without support from individual donors and foundations,” says Meneray. “Delivering these services means that support from the New Orleans and national community is essential.” Donations are always welcome, and pro bono work from qualified lawyers is also needed.

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