Ripple Effects: Rex Grant Helps Heal Disaster-Stricken Communities

NOTC in Bay St. Louis

NOTQ plays for the locals in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

Joannie Murayama of Rex grantee the New Old Time Chautauqua reports on how Rex’s underwriting of its Jambalaya Tour of Katrina-ravaged areas helped gave the group renewed inspiration and focus on its mission.

Joannie says:

In 2006, the Rex Foundation helped fund the New Old Time Chautauqua’s Jambalaya Tour to Hurricane Katrina-ravaged New Orleans and Mississippi, where we presented free vaudeville circus shows and workshops to survivors and heroic volunteer workers. Since 1981, NOTC has focused on under-served communities, but this tour was the first time we responded to a major crisis.

NOTC served food and put on a show for relief workers at Common Ground in New Orleans' Ninth Ward.

We learned that bringing laughter, music and fun was a needed respite from a difficult and confusing situation.  We learned the value of the exchange of human-ness through play and humor.  We felt humbled that people who had lost and endured so much were still generous, gracious and full of gratitude.  This experience was life-changing—no longer an arts organization that sometimes did service, NOTC became a service organization that used art to fulfill a mission of helping to build community through laughter, education and entertainment.

Passing the torch--the next generation ponders the juggling craft.

Since the Jambalaya Tour, NOTC has partnered with local non-profits in Washington, Montana, California and Idaho.  Because the work was shared, the net profits were also shared 50/50.  The all-day Community Events were presented–which included a parade, workshops and vaudeville show, with all the bells and whistles. The funds earned by the non-profits supported arts programs for kids, programs for homeless women, community centers, community radio stations, neighborhood gardens and environmental and sustainability organizations.

The Rex Foundation continues to be an inspiration of generosity, kindness and encouragement. Because of Rex, the New Old Time Chautauqua continues to implement new ways to serve and benefit communities that we visit.