Please carefully consider the qualifications and direct experience of all the candidates before you vote this Saturday.
This issue of OffBeat’s Weekly Beat has links to pertinent questions asked to mayoral candidates as well as candidates for city council seats. We at OffBeat always look at New Orleans through the lens of what’s best for New Orleans’ music and culture, and this survey of candidates by MaCCNO is revealing. Also, you should take a look at the recommendations by the ELLA Project to an incoming mayor relative to a platform that’s recommended on the new regime’s stance on music and culture issues.
One thing I discovered during the Mayoral Forum and the weeks preceding this event was that there seems to be a disconnect between candidates’ comprehension of what needs to be done to nurture—and in some cases, some people might say even salvage—our music, culture and creative population.
Since Katrina, the emphasis has been on building our technology businesses to shore up the economy. I agree with that, but in some ways I feel that tech has usurped New Orleans’ soul. It’s certainly made it very difficult for artists and musicians to live in New Orleans. More and more of them simply cannot afford to live here anymore. That is a tragedy, and in five to 10 years, I predict we’re going to see an even more profound change in New Orleans. We’re already drifting away from our core musical values. We have a population of people who have moved to New Orleans who aren’t too committed to preserving the traditions and heritage of our city.
I would challenge our new mayor and city council to create a city that absolutely, unequivocally includes a strategy for music and cultural nurturing and support. It has to go beyond an “Office of Cultural Economy.” It has to evaluate and delineate our weaknesses and strengths and how we can work to lessen weaknesses and capitalize on strengths. The strategy must clearly state objectives and accomplishable goals and a means to achieve those goals within an eight-year period.
We have many serious problems in this city—primarily crime, education and a serious implosion of our street, sewer and water infrastructures. But most cities have these issues. If we don’t address our music and cultural communities’ needs and make sure they are met, we’ll have worse problems than this. We will no longer really be New Orleans; we’ll only be the facsimile of what we used to be.