Austin has South by Southwest, which has grown to ginormous proportions. It used to be a small music business gathering with showcases; it now comprises film, interactive and music. Of course, music is interactive now too, pretty much.
The last SXSW (or in the hipster Austin lingo “South by”) I attended, I thought it had gotten way, way out of control. All the better for the music, film and interactive industry in Austin. SX has done nothing less than put Austin on the map for these businesses, permanently and in a big, big way.
New Orleans attempted something similar with “LMNOP” in the late 1990s, but because it was scheduled between the two weekends of Jazz Fest, and because the promoter used Austin as a model and didn’t consider that we already had hundreds of thousands of people coming to NOLA during that period of time, it didn’t work. (Mainly because in Austin, the bands were paid nothing or a pittance to play, in hopes of being seen by some A&R guy who would sign them to his label; during Jazz Fest, if bands don’t make good money gigging, they can’t survive the summer.)
No matter. New Orleans has enough of a cachet, and up until quite recently, lucrative tax credit incentives for the film, gaming and interactive industries, that it got a big boost from the film industry. I am wondering what will happen to that industry now that the Louisiana legislature has reportedly pulled the plug on the tax credit programs; it could leave us and a lot of the locals who’ve become used to making money in film and television in the lurch. Stupid legislature.
Speaking of dumb: Anyone who has an inkling of what’s going on in Louisiana politics is aware that we are in dire straits vis a vis our budget shortfall. Medical services and education—two things that are essential to our remaining competitive and responsible to our citizenry—have been cut to the bone as a result of our former governor’s lust for office and pandering to Republican “ideals.”
Let’s face it: Most politicians are pretty gutless and don’t want to rock any serious boats so that they can keep their positions. Thus, no one in particular has come to the conclusion or stepped up to posit legalizing marijuana in Louisiana (before all the rest of the states in the union go that route). No one will come out to say that going the way of Washington and Colorado in legalizing recreational marijuana would solve our fiduciary woes, plug holes in our budget (too reliant on oil prices), beef up our educational facilities, reinvigorate medical services, reduce crime and lessen the impact on the criminal justice system.
I realize that OffBeat’s stance on this is preaching to the choir, but if you have your wits about you, get in touch with your state representatives. And get them to do something courageous for a change.