Thursday, January 21, 2010


NEW ORLEANS JAN 20--In an unprecedented show of unity, over 60 organizations contributed to or endorsed a platform of actions for the new mayor and council. They recommend such measures as a new city agency for the arts, cultural centers in neighborhoods, dedicated and expanded funding, and a focus on education, career development and work force training, all aimed to improve the earning ability of creative producers of all disciplines in the city, and to improve the city's overall economic prospects.

The Contemporary Arts Center today hosted various members of the gathering of cultural economy organizations, local artists along with key cultural leaders to present the platform which aims to expand and support the economic opportunities available to the visual and performing artists, designers and producers, architects, landscape and interior designers, apparel and jewelry designers, furniture makers, building and preservation arts professionals, and culinary artists who have created the cultural fabric of our city.

"We have made much progress in support of our culture bearers and producers in the last quarter of the 20th century, and in the first decade of the 21st. But we are still not "at the table" of policy makers in the public, non-profit and private sectors in a way that reflects the importance of our creative output to the city's economy, culture, and quality of life," said Rasheda Ferdinand of the Contemporary Visual Arts Association of New Orleans.

Cultural leaders and organizations representing all of the creative disciplines throughout the city came together to develop a united platform representing what they see as priorities for new administration in city hall, and the council so we can continue to stimulate cultural change through music, visual and media arts, and design.

"Arts are catalytic, it's the rising tide that lifts all boats," said Carol Bebelle Executive Director of the Ashe cultural center. After Ms. Bebelle and several other supporters of New Orleans' arts scene spoke the candidates for mayor and city council spoke of their experiences in the arts and how they intend to address the concerns of our citizens.

All the candidates in attendance endorsed the platform and also had some ideas of their own such as the creation of an agency to support the arts, dedication of city funding to the local cultural economy and placing a greater focus on the arts as an engine for economic development to benefit New Orleans. In attendance were Virginia Blanque, Rob Couhig, John Georges, Cynthia Willard-Lewis, Stacey Head, Denis Holden, Nadine Ramsey, Jackie Clarkson, Jerrelda Drummer-Sanders, Nolan Marshall and Joe Butler, representing Kristin Palmer.

Attached are key points of agreement, along with the organizations that are part of this endeavor. A more detailed version of the individual platforms and statements of our partners are available at, and

To facilitate an understanding of what candidates agree to support, we are asking all mayoral and council candidates to tell us which five to ten elements of the platform they will prioritize for implementation when they take office. Realistically we know that in these difficult times, not all elements can be implemented immediately. That is why we are interested to learn what candidates realistically feel they can achieve in the near term.

1. Create a City agency or Office to develop and coordinate cultural policy, planning, programming and budgeting. Create an advisory commission or committee to provide policy input.
2. Develop a dedicated funding source for cultural programming and cultural economic development.
3. Expand the marketing of the city's culture and cultural venues, and products on a national, citywide and neighborhood level.
4. Create an office within the city's economic development agency or the public, private partnership if developed to focus on the creative industries. Add a position on the partnership's board to represent the cultural producers and industries.
5. Expand cultural programming on the citywide and neighborhood levels, including public performances and exhibitions.
6. Develop neighborhood based cultural centers for presentation, education, business incubators, workforce training and retail sales.
7. Address health, housing needs and quality of life of the city's creative producers and cultural community.
8. Maintain the city's unique balance between preservation of our culture and encouragement of cultural innovation.
For additional information, please contact Jeanne Nathan at 917.232.4522.

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