History of the H. Lloyd Hawkins Scenic Studio

1984: A New Studio

     The New Orleans Opera Association, established in 1943, has long maintained its own studios for the construction and storage of its properties and scenery. This studio continues to serve as a national and international opera resource.

     During the 1982-1983 season, the New Orleans Opera was informed that its existing scenic facilities were to be expropriated by the Jefferson Parish Government. Rather than find an existing building to use as a replacement, the Building Committee decided to build a state-of-the-art facility. The Association designed a 35,000 square foot facility complete with a separate woodworking shop, painting area, storage space, construction and assembly area and offices for the technical staff.

     While the price received from Jefferson Parish was fair, it was not enough to meet the demands of the new construction. Thus, the New Orleans Opera needed to locate additional funds to complete the expanded studio. Then president, H. Lloyd Hawkins, Jr. generously stepped up to supply the necessary funds to make the building a reality. In honor of his generosity and dedication, as well as in honor of his father, H. Lloyd Hawkins, Sr., who was also president for seventeen years, the Board of Directors voted to dedicate the new studio to the H. Lloyd Hawkins family.

2005: Restoration & Reinvention

     After the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the New Orleans Opera faced the enormous task of restoring its inventory of scenery and props. Because of extensive damage to the Opera's home theatre, the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts, the New Orleans Opera was forced to relocate its performances to McAlister Hall, a much smaller venue on the campus of Tulane University. The H. Lloyd Hawkins Scenic Studio rose to the challenge by creating ten new productions for presentation on McAlister Hall's stage, which is 1800 square feet smaller than that of the Mahalia Jackson Theater and has no fly system and limited backstage space. These productions are now available to companies with smaller facilities, along with the newly restored full productions.

The Future

     The H. Lloyd Hawkins Scenic Studio continues to rent Opera scenery and properties to companies throughout the United States and Canada. Currently, the Studio houses 32 full productions for rent. With a renewed focus on designing and building scenery for any and all theatrical venues, the H. Lloyd Hawkins Scenic Studio is poised to become an industry leader for years to come.