It’s been almost eight years since we elected a mayor. The last two mayors, Mitch Landrieu and Ray Nagin, participated in a forum organized and sponsored by OffBeat ) in 2010 and 2001, respectively) that questioned all the candidates about their policies regarding music as an economic driver (not only jobs, tourism, and quality of life), but also in preserving the city’s cultural heritage.
Having done this twice in the past, I’m pretty sure that most candidates are fairly uninformed about our music industry, just as most of the business leaders are in this community. They certainly know we love our music, but most all take it for granted. Unless you’re directly involved in the music industry as a musician, a club or bar owner, festival promoter/producer, attorney, talent buyer or booker, event organizer, DMC…and so much more…you don’t think much aabout how important music is to this community, our culture, our economic well-being.
So: there’s going to be another Mayoral Forum for candidates running for the office this fall. We’ve got a whole new slate of fresh-faced ambitious politicians who want to be mayor of this great city, and we want to find out how much they know about our music industry and community. In doing so, we’ll get an idea of what they know about music and be able to evaluate how they propose to nurture and grow the goose that laid the golden egg of culture for New Orleans.
The Ella Project, OffBeat Media and The Recording Academy (GRAMMY) will sponsor a public forum on music policy Monday, September 11 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the historic Carver Theatre at 2101 Orleans Ave in New Orleans. All major candidates will be in attendance. The forum will be moderated by author and former Times-Picayune columnist Lolis Eric Elie. Panelists include myself, Fred Johnson, Co-Founder of the Black Men of Labor, Larry Blumenfeld, journalist and music critic, and Melissa Weber, who performs as DJ Soul Sister.
The forum is free and open to the public.
Both the city and the music business and local industry have changed dramatically over the last eight years. This forum will once again ask our Mayoral candidates to show how they will commit to New Orleans’ cherished culture and place music in the forefront of its overall quality of life, business and community development strategy. Candidates will address their policies for:
- Nurturing an environment where our citizens are able to express their cultural traditions uninhibited.
- Ensuring New Orleans’ tradition of public performance and neighborhood music flourishes in concert with continued neighborhood development.
- Working with the music community to utilize music to address other major issues such as public safety, education, and housing.
The Ella Project is New Orleans-based non-profit dedicated to the City’s cultural community, Ella provides pro bono legal assistance, business development consulting, and cultural advocacy for Louisiana’s artists, musicians, and grassroots non-profits.
The Recording Academy is world’s leading society of music professionals, and is dedicated to celebrating, honoring, and sustaining music’s past, present, and future.