Culture-Up Incubator

leh bldg


Are you a creative working in the cultural industries? An artist, functioning like a business, or a small creative enterprise? Join the new Culture-Up innovation incubator, offering low-cost collaborative office space and support services to help build your sustainability and impact!

The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (LEH), and the Louisiana Cultural Economy Foundation (LCEF), in partnership with the New Orleans Downtown Development District, are offering office space in an historic building in Downtown New Orleans, providing a setting for cultural innovators to collaborate with peers and leaders within the creative industries. Become a Culture-Up member and develop your ideas and concepts with the bonus of business development assistance and advisory resources through both LEH and LCEF.

Partner Logos



The Desk ($250 per month): features 1 workspace within a semi-private, open floor plan design. 1 Permanent large desk-work area, 1 lockable drawer unit, and 1 chair.


The Nook ($450 per month): features 2 workspaces within a semi-private, open floor plan design, 2 Permanent large desk-work areas, 2 lockable drawer units, and 2 chairs.


  • 12 hour daily access to Culture-Up Incubator for 1 member (7am-7pm),
  • access to Wi-Fi, fax and copy machine for 1 member,
  • mail box and physical mailing address,
  • access to common spaces and conference rooms, and
  • discounts on larger meeting spaces and event rentals


Open to for-profit, non-profit entities as well as individuals whose work enhances the cultural sector of Louisiana.

How Do I Join/Get Started?

Culture-up operates year-round and you can apply to become a member at any time.  Just fill out the application form here (it takes 5 minutes!) and we’ll get in touch with you to discuss your needs.  We can offer you two years of membership, but if your business is ready to take the next step to bigger space, we’re happy to see you off.  After two years of membership, we hope you’ll be ready to venture out on your own and make your office space available for another creative.

Email or for additional information.


Ella West Freeman Foundation


Download the flyer:


Culture-Up Mentors


Jay Jayakrishnan – Managing Director, Clarity Dynamics

Jay brings a wealth of experience working with early-stage companies.  He is the managing director of Clarity Dynamics, an investment advisory firm that specializes in the growth and development of enterprise software and business media opportunities. Jay began his career as an analyst for the South Coast Angel Fund, performing due diligence and evaluating prospective investments in startups.  He then joined Simmons & White, a management consulting firm that advises growth companies across the Gulf Coast Region.  Most recently, Jay was a VP at Susco Solutions, a software development firm that develops internal business applications for SMBs and large enterprises.

Jay holds a BBA in international business and joint degrees in law (JD) and business (MBA). He has completed online coursework in computer science and continues to enhance his skills by building basic apps and prototypes in his spare time.  Jay recently launched to share business and technology resources with other professionals.



Sanjay Kharod – Executive Director, New Orleans Food & Farm Network

Sanjay Kharod has worked on building a fair and just food system for over 25 years working with food systems & environmental justice and groups in New York City, as a City Planner in Lafayette, Louisiana, and currently as the Executive Director of the New Orleans Food & Farm Network (NOFFN). In partnership with St. Charles Parish, NOFFN operates Edible Enterprises, the only food business incubator kitchen in the Greater New Orleans region. Prior to joining NOFFN, Mr. Kharod worked as a City Planner in Lafayette, Louisiana where he cultivated neighborhood revitalization projects – community gardens, neighborhood-managed parks, and market farms. Prior to his time in Lafayette, he worked for Just Food, a NYC-based food systems organization developing urban and regional agriculture programs. He has taught as an adjunct faculty member at Rutgers University, Temple University, and the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. Mr. Kharod has a BS in Mechanical Engineering, and an MA in Geography.

Freddie Williams Evans

Freddie Williams – Scholar, Award Winning Author, and Education Consultant

Freddi Williams Evans is an independent scholar, author and arts education consultant. Her book, Congo Square: African Roots in New Orleans, which is the first comprehensive study on the historical landmark, received the 2012 Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities Book of the Year Award and has been published in French.
Her research and advocacy for Congo Square influenced the New Orleans City Council to pass an ordinance in 2012 that made the popular name, “Congo Square,” the official name of the national landmark. Her numerous engagements include presentations in France (Paris, Aulnay and Bordeaux) and Senegal (Dakar and St. Louis) as well as Fulbright Teacher Abroad programs in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Japan. Additional international study-travels include Ghana and Haiti.
Evans is also an award-winning author of three historically based children’s books and the recipient of numerous recognitions including New Orleans Arts Council Community Arts Award and a Mardi Gras Indian Hall of Fame Recognition.


Zachary Wool – Partner, Barrios, Kingsdorf and Casteix

Zachary Wool is a partner at Barrios, Kingsdorf and Casteix and concentrates his practice in the fields of litigation and general corporate counsel for clients ranging in size from individuals to multi-billion dollar hedge funds. Zachary enjoys a varied practice. He works on litigation matters large and small, from cases involving one individual to those where he works on behalf of 10,000+ people injured by a defective product. He also advises corporations without in-house lawyers on general business matters. In addition to his work for BKC clients, he is also actively involved in the legal community. He is a member of the Louisiana State Bar Association’s LGBT Diversity Committee, and he is currently the Chairman and Founder of the American Association for Justice’s LGBT Caucus. He has served on a number of nonprofit Boards and enjoys the business side of law and offering advice and counsel to clients.


Collin Ferguson-Owner – Co-Founder of Where Y’art

Collin graduated from Tulane’s AB Freeman School of Business. Time abroad, spent as a teacher in Thailand and volunteering in Latin America exposed Collin to administrative practices in alien environments. In 2011, after over six years overseas, she settled back in New Orleans and founded Birds of a Feather NOLA, which focuses on feather hairpieces and headdresses, encaustic painting, and photography.

Collin also is the CEO and Managing Director of Where Y’art and manages all operations, corporate sales and growth + scale strategy. Collin has been involved with a number of entrepreneurial programs in the city including: The Big Idea, Pitch Nola, Propeller Accelerator alum 2013-2014, Idea Village IdeaX Accelerator cohort 2014, Idea Village CapitalX cohort 2015, Catapult participant and pitch winner 2014 and Arts Base Business Pitch Winner 2014. Collin is interested in preserving and furthering the culture of New Orleans and its visual artists as well as entrepreneurship and Art Tech.


J. Drew Chapman, Audit Manager

Jonathan Andrew “Drew” Chapman, CPA is an Audit Manager specializing in financial audits and reviews, employee benefit plan audits, internal control assessments and non- traditional engagements. Every engagement is approached with the intent of adding value to the clients served. His clients include those in the construction, nonprofit, education and maritime industries. He has performed audits ranging from start-up nonprofit entities to publicly-traded financial institutions with assets in excess of $4 billion.

Drew earned his Bachelor of Accountancy and Master of Accountancy at the University of Mississippi and was active in the Beta Alpha Psi accounting honor society. In 2012 he earned the Silas M. Simmons Bronze Medal for achieving the third highest score on the CPA exam in Mississippi.

A member of the Society of Louisiana CPAs, Drew is also a Board Member of the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children. He is a committee member of the New Orleans Chapter of the American Cancer Society.

Drew teaches fundamentals of accounting at Delgado Community College as well as continuing education classes for CPAs. In October 2012, his article regarding effective cash flow management for the construction industry was published in Construction News.


Abhay Patel – Vice President of Business Development for the New Orleans Business Alliance

Abhay Patel currently serves as the Vice President of Business Development for the New Orleans Business Alliance, where he is responsible for corporate retention, expansion and attraction activities. Prior to joining NOLABA, Abhay spent most of his professional career working as an investment banker, including seven years with Deutsche Bank in New York. While there, he focused on providing capital markets, mergers and acquisitions advisory services for companies across a number of sectors, including healthcare, telecommunications and transportation. During his career, Abhay helped raise over $30 billion of debt and equity capital and worked on several notable advisory transactions, including Hertz’ acquisition of Dollar Thrifty. Abhay earned his undergraduate degree in Finance from LSU and his JD from the Boston University School of Law.


Mike Early-Owner of FileWorks, LLC and owner/managing partner of Creative LA, LLC.

Mike Early brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the LCEF mentor-ship program. He is the owner of FileWorks, LLC, which is a record storage and management operation. He is also an owner and managing partner of Creative LA, LLC. Prior to owning these businesses, Mike Early Was the assistant pastor at St. Jerome Catholic Church, and was then elected to the New Orleans City Council representing district C for 14 years. He co-founded the Greater New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation and the French Quarter Festival.
Early attended Loyola University where he earned his B.A. in philosophy. After graduating from Loyola he went on to receive his master of Public Administration degree from Harvard University in Cambridge, Ma.

Kemic Smothers-founder of New Orleans Media Arts Institute

Kemic Smothers has practiced Entertainment Law since 2003. Born and raised in New Orleans, working in the entertainment industry is merely a natural state of being. He earned his undergraduate degree in Psychology and Criminal Justice at Southern University at New Orleans and his Juris Doctorate at Southern University law Center. He has done legal work with countless independent record labels and artists in film, television and music, and negotiated contracts with such industry heavyweights as BET, MTV Networks, TVT Records, Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment, and the Oxygen Network. Other entertainment industry endeavors include music festival productions and artist/venue management. He is also the Chief Operating Officer of OAKSway Entertainment, LLC.

Kemic Smothers is the founder and Executive Director of the New Orleans Media Arts Institute, a partnership with the Southern University at New Orleans College of Business’ Small Business Development and Management Institute. Launched in 2015, NOMAI is an entertainment industry small business incubator designed to improve the business acumen of New Orleans area small businesses and provide a platform for artists to exploit their talents.

NOMAI connects successful, experienced industry professionals with talented startups to provide instruction and mentorship in three broad areas: Creative Conceptualizing focuses on developing creative content into commercially viable products. Technical Training focuses on utilizing tools of the trade to learn industry standards as well as innovative production techniques in both film and music. Finally, Business/Entrepreneurship focuses on navigating the various professional/contractual aspects of the entertainment business.

Karen Hales – Public Relations Director of Markit 360

Karen Hales has more than 20 years of experience in hospitality and tourism, professional services, healthcare and nonprofit marketing. As Public Relations Director of boutique marketing firm markit360 since 2010, she is responsible for overseeing public relations, media relations, content marketing and social media efforts, ensuring cohesive and strategic communications for the firm’s clients.

Her background includes six years managing media relations for an international hospitality management company, as well as experience managing a variety of clients with advertising and public relations firms in New Orleans. She also worked in the Marketing & Business Development Department of Slidell Memorial Hospital responsible for public relations, marketing, promotions and community events.  Prior to her career in Public Relations, Karen was a newspaper reporter in upstate New York, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the State University of New York College at Buffalo.

Tammy O’Shea has 23 years of experience in branding, marketing, public relations, event planning and sales management. She currently serves as Chief Marketing Officer of Fidelity Bank and the Bank’s Mortgage Division, Nola Lending Group. Her duties include developing brand strategy and supervising all public relations, sponsorships, corporate events, advertising and social media efforts. In addition, she serves as the Bank’s corporate spokesperson and media relations expert. She holds a BA in Journalism from Louisiana State University and is a graduate of the American Bankers Association School of Bank Marketing and the Southeastern School of Sales Management at Vanderbilt. She is a designated Certified Marketing Financial Professional. Tammy enjoys public speaking and is a frequent guest speaker at various conferences related to Bank and Financial Service Marketing.  Prior to her career in the financial service industry, Tammy was an account executive for broadcast media sales.

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