Director’s Spotlight: PRC provides insightful, free online programs

This story appeared in the May issue of the PRC’s Preservation in Print magazine. Interested in getting more preservation stories like this delivered to your door nine times a year? Become a member of the PRC for a subscription!

Innovation has been one of the positive outcomes we’ve seen as the Preservation Resource Center has worked quickly over the past few weeks to adjust our programs to best serve the city during this scary and stressful time. As the physical world shut down, we were disappointed to postpone all of our spring events, including our Buy Right and Renovate Right classes, our Beams and Brews series, and two events we always look forward to with great excitement: the Shotgun House Tour and the Revival Gala, which, this year, would be the 43rd annual Julia Jump.

We still hope to hold these events at a later date, and it will be such a joy to see all of our supporters and friends once it’s safe to be together in person again. Until then, our staff has taken PRC’s typical in-person class syllabi and translated them into a series of educational and engaging interactive online programs that we are offering three times a week.

The courses are taught by experts in their fields, and are lively and entertaining. Perhaps best of all, viewers can ask questions directly in the sessions. During a recent program featuring Realtor Katie Witry of the Witry Collective and Mortgage Lender Joe Uzee of Gulf Coast Bank and Trust discussing the current state of the New Orleans real estate market, participants asked a variety of questions: “Is now the time to list my house?” “Should I refinance?” “What will happen to the value of my investment property?” After the presentation, we were contacted by participants who were thrilled to have such expert and personalized advice at their fingertips.

A few days later, during a session on best practices in historic preservation led by Inhab founder Mike Bertel, viewers asked specific questions about their siding, piers, insulation, windows and more. Mike broke down complex issues for viewers to help them figure out the best ways to repair problems so that they could be informed through the process.

PRC is offering these programs as a free resource to the public, but it is only thanks to our members and donors that we are able to offer this information during trying times such as these. These classes are a way to learn, be inspired and be engaged in a productive way — and to temporarily tune out the bad news blaring from our devices. Without member and donor support, this work would not be possible.

We’re hopeful that these courses will help more people discover the work of the PRC and bring new members into our fold. The topics are truly broad, from how-to guides, such as the recent program on repairing your historic wood windows taught by contractor Bill Robinson, to the delightfully fun chat with decorator Chad Graci of Graci Interiors on affordable ways to redecorate. We had two classes on identifying historic New Orleans architecture led by Michelle Duhon, founder of Bayou Preservation and Southkick LLC, and more than 1,000 people tuned in!

I hope you will tune in, if you haven’t already. The schedule for upcoming classes is available here, and videos of previous programs are available here. I also hope you will join us virtually on May 28 for PRC’s 46th Annual Meeting. While it will be our first — and hopefully last — Annual Meeting held remotely, it will be a welcome chance for PRC’s members to celebrate another year of preservation, even if it’s not in person. We will elect new officers, and look forward to all of the things we are sure to accomplish in the year to come. I look forward to “seeing” you then!

Danielle Del Sol is the Executive Director of the Preservation Resource Center.