The Marigny Opera House, a building spotlighted internationally last week as the setting of the glamorous wedding of Beyoncé’s sister, Solange Knowles, has been shut down for a second time this month while it works out a permitting dispute with the city, Executive Director Dave Hurlbert said Tuesday.
The first sudden shuttering of the building, a former Catholic church built in 1853, displaced the opening night of the New Orleans Fringe Festival, a festival of new theatrical and other shows, Nov. 20. The injunction was then lifted, and other plays in the weeklong festival were performed there as planned.
But this weekend’s 24-Hour Draw-A-Thon, an annual community arts collaboration for art teachers, students and families, has been moved to the Art Klub, 517 Elysian Fields Ave.
The dispute centers on whether the Opera House has the proper fire and safety permits, Hurlbert said.
“Our lawyers and the city attorney are meeting with the judge Dec. 3 to try to come to an agreement,” he said. The judge is Ethel Julien in Civil District Court.
Susan Gisleson, an art teacher and an organizer of the Draw-A-Thon, said the group was planning its third annual round-the-clock event at the Opera House on Saturday when word came down that a new location would have to be found with just four days’ notice.
“This year I had a special events permit in the pipeline, and it was frozen, and the city refused to let us have our free, all-ages, community art event,” Gisleson said. “Nobody gets paid; we just do it for the love of it. I gotta tell you, I am feeling really disappointed by the city.”
Deputy Mayor Emily Arata said Tuesday night that the court order “to allow use of the Marigny Opera House was temporary, allowing use of the facility for the Fringe Festival dependent upon compliance with certain safety measures. To ensure the building is safe, the owners are required to bring the building into full compliance.” In the meantime, she said, it “cannot operate pursuant to court order.”
Arata said the city’s Safety and Permits Department “has been in regular contact with their architect regarding bringing the building into compliance. No plans or permits are on file yet.”
With its interior arches, stained glass windows and mosaic floors, the Marigny Opera House served as a graceful backdrop for the Nov. 16 wedding of Solange Knowles to video director Alan Ferguson.
The Opera House — which calls itself “the church of the arts” — also has had to cancel meetings of a 12-step program and a musical meditation service held Sunday evenings.
An occasional attendee at the meditation service: Solange Knowles, a Marigny resident and “a good friend of the Marigny Opera House,” Hurlbert said. “We were delighted to have her ceremony there.”