A Joint Statement

A Joint Statement to Elected Officials, Mayoral and Council Candidates From the Arts and Creative Industries Community

The arts and creative industries community is energized by the sense of opportunity with the current mayoral election in New Orleans, especially within the framework of the coming Tricentennial. We seek to form a deep partnership with our next mayor and those in elected positions to proactively capitalize that which makes us so unique.

Creatives, artists, producers and businesses are working hard to create innovative work in New Orleans. Many have long family legacies in Louisiana. Many have more recently arrived with fervor for helping New Orleans redevelop after Katrina. All have embraced the unique cultural themes of our region with work reflecting our unique environment, including the threats of climate change and coastal erosion; our carnival-influenced street and neighborhood traditions; and our long, relatively unrecognized history of opera, chamber music, and marching band music.

We have successfully built a vibrant cultural scene and creative economy in New Orleans, from the jazz clubs and street culture that celebrate our indigenous art forms, the birth of the Warehouse Arts District launched by the creation of the Contemporary Arts Center, to the bold new arts venues along St. Claude Avenue developed by collaborating artists. Neighborhoods throughout the city are also being revived through culture and the arts, an international trend recognized by the real estate industry that tracks the movement of artists with new residential and commercial development. The once decaying Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard was revived by cultural arts organizations and culture bearers and artists. Freret Street and Magazine Streets are alive again with arts and retail. Cultural districts continue to grow and expand, with 23 in Orleans Parish alone.

Neighborhoods throughout the city are being revived through the arts, an international trend recognized by the real estate industry that tracks the movement of artists with new residential and commercial development. The once decaying Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard was revived by arts organizations and artists. Freret Street and Magazine Streets are alive again with arts and retail. Cultural districts continue to grow and expand, with 23 in Orleans Parish alone.

All this is to say that the cultural bearers, creative artists and producers of the city, in all disciplines, including visual and performing; television, film, digital and media; architecture, interiors, landscape and industrial design; culinary and literary arts are doing their part to build their own careers with an equal commitment to growing their communities and city around them.

In 2018, in partnership with elected leadership we seek to:

· Expand upon the City’s visionary Cultural Economy Snapshot with outside consultants to quantify an assessment of art and culture’s economic impact on New Orleans. While the current methodology is excellent, it does not capture a wide range of creatives working within the creative industries who are not associated with the various organizations. This expanded study will confirm potentially astounding statistics that will aid all local organizations with raising vital funds.

· Work to position New Orleans as a leading international creative center by identifying a new revenue source to support the arts and culture of our city. The State of Louisiana is the 39th per capita among states in arts funding, with the city of New Orleans far behind most major cities in the South, including Atlanta, Austin, Nashville, San Antonio, Charlotte and Jackson, MS. This can and will change with thoughtful development of either a surcharge, tax or other revenue generator. Support an advisory committee of cultural and creative industries representatives to provide guidance for the expenditure of such funding and investment.

· In collaboration with the Arts Council of New Orleans, Create a Department of Creative Arts and Industries in the new City administration to expand the City’s capacity to support and guide this critical cultural and economic sector, the City’s arts agency, the Arts Council of New Orleans, cultural non-profits, culture bearers and creative producers. Such a department will be in a stronger position to secure funding from general revenue sources and be better able to inform the cultural community and economy of funding and investment sources.

· Gain seats at the table with the New Orleans Tourism and Marketing Corporation, New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, GNO Inc. and NOLABA, so that culture bearers, creative artists, producers, marketing and economic development professionals can work together to assure that our cultural producers and organizations can widen their base of support and provide direct input for policy development.

· Develop public policy to support arts programs in public, private and charter schools in our area.

· Work with national foundations and corporations to develop a cogent strategy for boosting the New Orleans creative economy.

· Work with hotels, restaurants and the tourism industry to generate a livable wage for hospitality industry workers who serve as our primary branding agents in maintaining the allure and personal connection for

visitors to New Orleans. The hospitality industry also serves as the complementary income for many culture bearers and artists.

Our city currently faces a challenge and an opportunity. Our challenge is to make a strong financial investment in our creative industries economy to grow the City of New Orleans. We should not allow other less creatively endowed cities and regions to pull ahead of us. And while New Orleans is in the national spotlight for the Tricentennial, our opportunity is now.

We ask run-off candidates and new electeds to agree to endorse this broad statement of commitment to our creative artists, producers and economy. We will share your commitment with our creative community with voters in the coming election.

Thank you,

Nick Stillman, Arts Council New Orleans
Carol Bebelle, Executive Director, Ashe’ Cultural Arts Center
Susan Brennan, Second Line Stages, Prospect 4
Luther Gray, Congo Square Preservation Society
Givonna Joseph, Artistic Director, Opera Creole
Delaney Martin, Executive Director, New Orleans Airlift
Gene Meneray, Co Founder, The Ella Project
Joe McKesson, Marketing Director, New Orleans Opera
Jeanne Nathan, Executive Director, Creative Alliance of New Orleans
Stacey Phingsten, Executive Director, Louisiana Architectural Foundation
Jolene Pinder, Executive Director #CreateLouisiana
Aimee Smallwood, Executive Director, Louisiana Cultural Economy Foundation
Charles Taylor, Director School of Arts, University of New Orleans
Marcel Wisznea, President, Wisznea Architecture and Development
New Orleans Arts District Association