I’m writing this pre-Thanksgiving and thinking about the upcoming holiday season. Thanksgiving and Christmas kind of run together for me, and are always a time for me to count my blessings: I’m still pretty healthy (for as long as that lasts). I’m married to a great guy whom I love. All my siblings are alive and well, as are their children and grandchildren. My daughter is beautiful, happy, healthy and content. I have a granddaughter who’s also lovely, smart, talented and capable (in case you’re not aware, she works here at the magazine). And now I have a beautiful healthy 20-month-old great-granddaughter: the apple of my eye.
I love my work, and the really hard-working dedicated OffBeat team, whom I appreciate very much, including my husband Joseph. I’m thankful that OffBeat has been around long enough to help to promote and to educate others about music in New Orleans. I’m hopeful what we’ve tried to accomplish has changed the city’s attitude towards music and musicians. But somehow I never feel that I’ve done enough because musicians are still not appreciated as they should be, and many are still struggling to make a good living making music. Some are aging, and can’t work as much as they did. Many have serious health issues that are difficult because it’s hard to pay for even a minimum amount of insurance for themselves and their families on what a musician makes. That is a “pity and a shame,” in the oft-repeated words of my quirky hubby, but it’s very true.
New Orleans has never committed one hundred percent to its music, artistic and cultural community in the way that it should. As a whole, our wonderful unique culture is still taken for granted by city and state government, the business community, the people who have lived here most of their lives, and also by newcomers to the city. I just don’t think that they “get it.”
New Orleans (and Louisiana, for that matter) has a moral and civic obligation to nurture and sustain its culture through marketing and promotional programs, educational initiatives, research and monetary support of its culture bearers. I perceive over the past three decades that New Orleans has been very imperceptibly losing its cultural soul, and it’s tragic.
There’s massive money pumped into this city via sports, particularly the Saints football team, and I understand why and how. But the impact of culture is almost impossible to quantify (unlike sports). The survival of our culture is rooted in the survival of our culture producers: people. Those people are not the ones who make a lot of money, so they have very little power or clout. They need your support.
Have a beautiful holiday season.