Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu drums up support for Louisiana by connecting the arts with business
Few states can beat Louisiana when it comes to cultural assets. What other state can boast its own indigenous music, its own cuisine and such well-preserved historical jewels like the Vieux Carré, arguably one of the biggest outdoor museums in the country?
are a rich natural resource that can bring jobs, spur new investment and give Louisiana a leg up in the global marketplace.
The Cultural Economy Initiative was designed to try to create more jobs out of Louisiana’s raw talent. There are over 144,000 jobs in Louisiana that are tied to art, music, historic preservation, architecture, the film industry and live theater. The idea that I had is that if you treated it like a business and grew it just like we tried to grow the maritime industry or the oil and gas industry, you could actually create many, many, many jobs with less money over a longer period of time.
Last year we had 70 different countries represented. And so Louisiana is kind of the focal point of the discussion internationally of how cultures intersect with regular economic models and how different people can come together to use culture to create economic development. So it’s been a huge success. We are also going to have fairly high-level officials from different governments who will be having sidebar meetings with folks in Louisiana where their countries are doing business with us.
For any business in Louisiana that is working oversees or in another country, it gives them the opportunity to talk to government leaders and business leaders from that country and find a way to add value to the jobs that already exist. Also, there are a huge number of workshops that are going to bring together experts in [creative] fields. They are going to talk about the trials and tribulations, the successes and the challenges that they have had. The third piece is the networking opportunity that inevitably results in new partnerships.
The cultural industries certainly don’t live in isolation. They are generally affected the way the rest of the economy is affected. What’s ironic though about some of the cultural aspects and the tourism aspect is that tourism has done better in Louisiana than anybody had expected it to do.
We went from doing a $30 million book of business to doing an $800 million book of business last year. The big message there is that if you treat it like a business, then it will act like a business.
Every major study on education usually indicates that if arts and music are part of the curriculum then math and science scores go up. It’s critically important that if Louisiana has an economic advantage because of its indigenous culture that we actually teach it in schools. You really have to make sure that you fund culture. It’s a critical part of what makes us so special and unique. It’s our authentic culture that gives us a competitive advantage in economic development.
Last year, Prospect 1 started the week after. You always see us trying to do it when lots of folks are around and it’s part of a major cultural season, so it works out well for us.