The Big Issue:
Does Progress Destroy Culture?

It seems that tourism in New Orleans has officially reached a point where an ongoing dialogue between policy makers and culture bearers is now a daily, or at least weekly, desire. This week, the conversation takes shape as part of “The Big Issue” Tulane-Hillel series and asks the question, “Does progress destroy culture?” The public, open-forum conversation will take place at Tulane University’s Mintz Center at 912 Broadway st. on Thursday, June 6 at 7:00 p.m.

the big issue

Does Progress Destroy Culture? - June 6

The Big Issue will host a panel of local guest speakers featuring New Orleans jazz forefather Ellis Marsalis, contemporary jazz-funk “underdawg” Shamarr Allen, heralded urban planning historian (i.e. geographer) and author Richard Campanella, Times-Picayune second line, brass band and street culture chronicler Katy Reckdahl (and OffBeat contributor), hotel and hospitality business mogul Mike Valentino, and will be moderated by NPR American Routes host Nick Spitzer.  The Big Issue steering committee states that the June 6 edition “will tackle questions regarding how gentrification and urban and economic development impacts New Orleans culture.”

This type of discussion comes in response to the fact that the past six years have seen municipal development roar at record speeds around the city – some of it good, some of it questionable. So now, residents from communities all over town are starting to feel the effects of some of these economic development processes in real time, many realizing that they do not have as much input  as they should into community development as it pertains to the cultural economy of the arguably the most vibrant, talented city in America.

More and more we are seeing forums and coalitions form to address these very topics about cultural regulation happening in the (Re)New Orleans or the “new” New Orleans. Crucial questions such as, “Are we undermining the very culture bearers tourists come to see by writing government policy that focuses more on the tourist, rather than the New Orleanians that make this such a destination?” and “How do we best break the ice between natives and newcomers?”  Experiencing community development that rehabs longtime vacant buildings is great, but not if you’re the neighbor next door that has been completely left out of the planning process, or worse, forced to move due to a disaster capitalism land-grab. Or, specific to many New Orleanians’ experience, the onset of live music permitting.

Perspectives from both sides of the fence share voice at Thursday evening’s forum, where the benefits of entertainment revenue tracking versus an unregulated, organic culture are sure to surface.

The talk is free and open to the public. Doors are at 7 p.m. with program at 7:30 p.m.

The Big Issue Series
Date: Thursday, June 6
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Tulane University – Mintz Center
912 Broadway st. (map)
Neighborhood: Uptown
Admission: FREE
Ages: All Ages
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