We have a warehouse filled with OffBeat print archives, going back to 1988, from the time the magazine was printed on newsprint, pre-internet and pre-digital age.
It’s entertaining and humbling to look at some of the older issues of the magazine. Sometimes it’s downright embarrassing, but I think we’ve improved so much over the past three decades and all of us are proud of what the magazine is now, today. That’s not to say we could be a lot better and more inclusive. We’re always looking to broaden our editorial coverage vis a vis music and culture and to reach more people, either in print or online.
As people who have read my columns and blogs know, I rarely keep my mouth shut when it comes to anything having to do with music, or what I perceive as an injustice or harmful to the music and cultural communities. This is what I’ve dedicated the bulk of my career to, and it’s way too late to wimp out now.
I can look through our old issues and see a lot of ranting on the inefficiency of government-sponsored “commissions” and agencies. While I feel that music and culture should have a place at the government table, we still haven’t done it right in all the years that I’ve been involved in this.
Our closest ally in the past eight years in the city has been Scott Hutcheson, Mayor Landrieu’s head of the Office of Cultural Economy. I think he was a bit taken aback with our poll last week (he’s been extremely diligent and hard-working when it comes to working with the city’s artistic and cultural communities). Personally, I think he’s spread too thin, but I wonder who will fill his shoes when we elect a new mayor. (Oh, it’s too bad I have to bring up a mayoral election when we’re so embroiled in this awful presidential election. But it’s something to ponder for the future when we have to elect a new mayor).
I look back at the earlier days of OffBeat and can see that there were times in the past when music was more top of mind for tourism folks on the state level. We haven’t really had that commitment since Kathleen Blanco left office—Blanco really did seem to “get it.”). It’s regressed to more lip service than commitment, which is one of the reasons I proffered up our survey from last week. Other states have put music at the forefront of their ongoing marketing campaigns (the ones that come to mind immediately are Mississippi and Tennessee). Why can’t we? I can remember in the 1990s, that music was the theme of at least two ongoing tourism promotion campaigns. That doesn’t really happen anymore, which is a real pity. We seem to be regressing in our attitude towards music, and I suppose that’s why OffBeat continues to push, push to get music recognized as a tourism driver and a real contributor to the city and state economy.
I also perceive that there’s less interest in local music from locals than there used to be, for some reason. Could it be that the people who have been the demographic who go out to listen to live music regularly just aren’t as interested in local music? Not festivals, live, locally-produced music. Is live local music a “gone pecan”?
What do you think? Take our poll and get a chance to win tickets to Galactic + Gravy at Tip’s next weekend.