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Be a Culture Vulture

New Orleans is becoming as well known for its visual and performing arts as it is for its music, food and booze.

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Music and Dance -- Four major entities combine to form the engine that drives the city's music and dance scene: The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra (225 Baronne St., Suite 910, 523-6530; www.lpomusic.org) kicks off its season Sept. 16 with a trio of works by Tchaikovsky; the New Orleans Ballet Association (225 Baronne St., Suite 1410, 522-0996; www.nobadance.com), which begins its 35th season Oct. 23 with the Hubbard Street Dance Chicago; the New Orleans Opera Association (305 Baronne St., 529-3000; www.neworleansopera.org) starts with La Traviata on Oct. 7 and 9; and the Jefferson Performing Arts Society (400 Phlox Ave., Metairie, 885-2000; www.jpas.org), which offers a variety of classical music, opera, dance and theatrical events.

Theater -- Theater is everywhere in New Orleans, and not just on campus. Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carré (616 St. Peter St., 522-2081; www.lepetittheatre.com) is the city's oldest theater and offers a traditional menu of dramas, comedies and musicals, starting with A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine on Sept. 9. Southern Repertory Theatre (The Shops at Canal Place, third floor, 333 Canal St., 522-6545; www.southernrep.com) offers the most contemporary array of original works, starting the season Sept. 8 with Edward Albee's The Goat, Or Who Is Sylvia?. Le Chat Noir (715 St. Charles Ave., 581-5812; www.cabaretlechatnoir.com) specializes in cabaret, but also has become one of the best venues for live theater (check out the current Boobs! The Musical, which runs through most of September). Anthony Bean Community Theater & Acting School (1333 S. Carrollton Ave., 862-PLAY; www.anthonybeantheater.com) has become a hub of African-American theater, and its season begins Sept. 10 with The Purple Dust of Twilight Time. The Saenger Theatre (143 N. Rampart St., 524-2490; www.saengertheatre.com) is home to the Broadway in New Orleans series, which opens with Oliver! on Nov. 16.

Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard -- Central City has become one of the cultural satellites of New Orleans. Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center (1724 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., 525-2767; www.zeitgeistinc.org) offers a wide range of cutting-edge arts events, from visual art to progressive films to live theater. The space is also the home of the legendary Barrister's Gallery. Ashé Cultural Arts Center (1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., 569-9070; www.ashecac.org) explores the African Diaspora from just about every perspective. The Neighborhood Gallery (1410 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., 524-8800) was founded by former civil rights activist Sandra Berry and her husband, Joshua Walker, and has become, arguably, the premier gallery for African-American artists. (Note: Jomo Kenyatta Bean's legendary Ethiopian Theatre is nearby at the corner of Broad Street and Napoleon Avenue.)

Treme -- This historic neighborhood, the birthplace of jazz, is also the home of two museums dedicated to African-American culture. First check out the New Orleans African-American Museum of Art, Culture & History (1418 Gov. Nicholls St., 565-7497; www.noaam.org), which provides information on voodoo, Mardi Gras Indians, second lines and jazz. The Backstreet Cultural Museum (1116 St. Claude Ave., 522-4806; www.backstreetculturalmuseum.com) features similar information, and also is considered ground zero for the second-line season, which truly separates New Orleans from the rest of the world. Check it out; it'll make your fall.

New Orleans Museum of Art (1 Collins Diboll Circle, City Park, 488-2641; www.noma.org) -- The mothership of New Orleans art, NOMA is the place to catch some of the most impressive touring collections in the Southeast. The permanent collection is valued at more than $200 million. This fall, watch for The Collector's Eye: The Louis S. Harris Glass Collection, from one of New Orleans' great collectors. (Note: the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden is one of the most romantic places in the city.)

Warehouse Arts District -- In just a few short years, this area has become so flooded with art that the city could market itself on visual arts alone, starting with the stretch of Julia Street with top-flight galleries: Arthur Roger, Heriard-Cimino, LeMieux, Marguerite Oestreicher Fine Arts and Sylvia Schmidt, to name a few. The area also features three of the cities' cultural cornerstones: the Contemporary Arts Center (900 Camp St., 528-3800; www.cacno.org), which features exhibits, the popular Jazz America series (curated by trumpeter Terence Blanchard) and live theater; The National D-Day Museum (945 Magazine St., 527-6012; www.ddaymuseum.org), named by Congress as "America's National World War II Museum"; and more recently the Ogden Museum of Southern Art (925 Camp St., 529-6000; www.ogdenmuseum.org), which has the world's largest collection of Southern art. Opening Sept. 25: Louisiana ArtWorks (725 Howard Ave. ), a 93,000-square-foot visual arts facility that provides arts education, interaction and works for sale.

Magazine Street -- The art galleries pop up along Magazine Street like weeds through the sidewalk cracks, but are a helluvalot more fun to look at. Stretching from downtown to Riverbend, Magazine Street offers some of the best in the city, including Lionel Milton Gallery, Metal Studio, Thomas Mann Gallery I/O, DLKart Fine Art Gallery and Cole Pratt Gallery. The bulk of these can be found in the 300-500 block stretch and the 2000-4500 block stretch.

On the boards this fall at Southern Repertory Theatre: Edward Albee's The Goat, Or Who Is Sylvia?
  • On the boards this fall at Southern Repertory Theatre: Edward Albee's The Goat, Or Who Is Sylvia?

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