I just returned to the office from teaching a marketing class at my alma mater, the University of New Orleans, which is celebrating “Marketing Week.”
Lisa Palumbo, the class professor, turned over her “Promotions Management” class to me, and I had an hour or so to talk about promoting your or others’ businesses, and promoting yourself. It was a lot of fun for me, and I sincerely tried to engage the 25 or so students as much as possible. It was refreshing to hear the ideas coming from the class. A couple of students asked me about starting their own business, and what was the hardest part. I think I answered “lack of capital,” in addition to keeping your vision in the face of adversity, or in another word: “perseverance.” It took a lot of that to keep OffBeat in business for 25 years (trust me!).
That word made me think about last Sunday’s Treme episode, as character Davis McAlary is giving his homegrown music tour of the city (There are two “Perseverance Halls” in New Orleans, as opposed to “Preservation Hall”).
Unfortunately one of the Perseverance Halls is in dire need of repair (Perseverance Hall No. 4 is luckily within the area controlled by the New Orleans Jazz Historical Park, has been renovated and is in use). I love the fact that the Treme writers brought in the lack of attention we give to historical music sites in the city; they’re even described as being “preserved by neglect.” (yeah, right!).
I wrote recently about the historic jazz sites on South Rampart Street (Eagle Saloon, Iroquois Theatre, the Karnofsky Tailor Shop and House, and the Little Gem Saloon). I’m pleased that the Downtown Development District has been working to convert the block that contains these historic sites into the “Rampart Entertainment District.” Other than the Little Gem Saloon, which is owned privately, under renovation, and which is slated to open as a music venue in December, the entire city block bordered by Perdido, South Rampart, Poydras and Loyola is owned by the Meraux Foundation. The Meraux Foundation is reportedly committed to revitalizing the area and preserving the historic properties within the block. While this isn’t the grand idea proposed by the developer in the Treme series for the Municipal Auditorium, it’s a start.
It’s fascinating to see how the Treme writers combine facts and fiction to tell a story about what should be done in New Orleans. Turning the Municipal Auditorium into an international Jazz Center (bordering on Congo Square) on Treme was very much like the one proposed by developer Stewart Juneau. That project sounded great, but had no legs, and was unfortunately tied to then-mayor Ray Nagin’s administration, which was perceived to be corrupt.
A request for proposal for redeveloping the Municipal Auditorium is also going to be let by the city, if it hasn’t been done already. So we may have the opportunity yet to see a developer step up to the table to take an historic building in the most historic musical site in New Orleans and devote it to local music.
If nothing else, the idea for preserving historic sites and creating a New Orleans music attraction perseveres; the idea is still alive.
I’m persevering in my dream for a music museum in the city, and a way to honor our music and educate both locals and visitors. There may be hope for that to come true yet. Hopefully, in my lifetime.