How the New Blue began

 A get-together called the “Evening in Blue” was conceived in 2018 in collaboration between Chartwell Center of New Orleans, and consulting partner McCaffety Scott LLC (“MSLLC”). The inspiration for this collaboration was to create a signature event in New Orleans advocating specifically for the autism community, simultaneously supporting the community-wide efforts of Chartwell Center. Special guests for the 2019 Evening in Blue included musician Delfeayo Marsalis, autism community advocate (at left with Chartwell board chairman Robert Eichberger).

After the well-received pilot Evening in Blue for Chartwell debuted on Thursday, March 21, 2019 at Cavan restaurant in New Orleans, Chartwell and MSLLC continued discussing how such a community-focused effort might grow and evolve to serve those beyond Chartwell. MSLLC owner Lisa McCaffety-Scott proposed taking the project on independently with Chartwell as a key partner in the formative stages.

In May of 2019, Chartwell and McCaffety-Scott agreed to support each other in launching an expanded Evening in Blue concept. Hence the formation of the New Blue Foundation, in conjunction with a campaign leading up to the April 2020 Evening in Blue gala.

Community programming and campaign plans, 2019-2020

The New Blue Foundation is currently implementing a series of “sensory-friendly” weekend activities for the autism community centering around professional music and art therapy. The Rhapsody in Blue music therapy series is being produced in partnership with New Orleans’ Preservation Hall Foundation, with the first community event scheduled for November 16, 2019 at Preservation Hall.

The Brushes Without Boundaries art therapy series, sponsored by the Ashley Longshore Charitable Trust, pairs exciting contemporary artist Devin “Cypher” Dennis with the art therapy expertise of Kate Lacour (founder of STOMP Troopers) to create memorable and therapeutic weekend experiences resulting in original artworks by the guest artists and attendees. Brushes Without Boundaries also partners with Microsoft, adding a high-tech digital art component and original artwork that participants can print and take home. 

In addition to providing impactful, therapeutic experiences for children and adults on the spectrum, these events will be platforms to inform and educate the public on the science behind formal art and music therapy for those with ASD. It is hoped that by promoting awareness of these clinical specialties through events and media, the New Blue Foundation programs will help generate greater support for placing professional therapists of all disciplines in New Orleans schools and centers serving autistic children and adults.

A major gifts campaign for the Evening in Blue 2020 gala will accompany these advocacy efforts through to April 2020. Net proceeds from the Evening in Blue 2020 gala will benefit the pace-setting work of Chartwell Center, and the "New Blue" initiative placing professional music therapists in select New Orleans public schools for the 2020-2021 academic year. Program advisers for this pilot initiative include Jenny Longwell, Ph.D., BCBA, and Penny Roberts, Ph.D., MT-BC.