Rebecca Snedeker has called New Orleans an “unfathomable city” and has told parts of its story on film and in her writing. Now, she will continue to explore the many sides of New Orleans through her new role as the Clark Executive Director of the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South at Tulane University.
Snedeker is an accomplished documentary filmmaker, capturing an Emmy Award for “Outstanding Historical Programming — Long Form” in 2011 for her documentary Witness: Katrina. She won critical acclaim for the 2013 book, Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas (University of California Press), which she co-authored with Rebecca Solnit. The New York Times called the book an “idiosyncratic, luminous tribute” to New Orleans.
“New Orleans is my teacher, case study, and source of wonder,” says Snedeker, a native New Orleanian. She said that the directorship of the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South, which is housed in the School of Liberal Arts, felt like a calling.
“I was attracted to the center for its potential to support accelerated learning experiences that draw on the complexity of this place and its relationships to the world, to help us understand where we are and engage our collective destiny.”
School of Liberal Arts Dean Carole Haber said Snedeker has the vision and energy to support and grow the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South. “Rebecca has a storyteller’s sense of place and a documentarian’s skill in managing multiple narratives. Her talents will be an asset to the center.”
The New Orleans Center for the Gulf South supports research, teaching and community engagement that focus on New Orleans and the Gulf South and explore the region’s place in the world. The center sponsors conferences, programming and service-learning courses, and awards fellowships to Tulane faculty and to external scholars and artists. Since its establishment in 2010, the center has developed a wide variety of music-focused programs, with the creation of the Musical Cultures of the Gulf South coordinate major, the Music Rising at Tulane website and K-12 educator institute, and the Trombone Shorty Academy and the Fredman Music Business Institute.
Reflecting her passion for the region, Snedeker envisions a boundless future for the Gulf South Center. “I’m taking soundings, and charting a course.” While she will continue to expand the center’s music programs, she envisions increasing support for other realms and curating regular interdisciplinary programming, with an initial emphasis on environmental justice.
“My goal is for the center to be a dynamic port,” says Snedeker. “I love bringing people together with different expertise and backgrounds. Place-based learning requires the integration of a multiplicity of voices, approaches, and understandings, all responding to an infinitely complex, ever-evolving model. Training in how to go about this, and finding pleasure and mooring in it, is the essence of a liberal arts education. And something that we bring wherever we may go.”
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Executive Director, New Orleans Center for the Gulf South