Lt. Gov. Landrieu, LCEF announce new statewide grant program -- 03/19/2008
Office of Lieutenant GovernorFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 19, 2008
Lt. Governor Landrieu, Louisiana Cultural Economy Foundation announce new statewide grant program
Economic Opportunity Fund targets cultural workers, businesses, and non-profit cultural organizations
BATON ROUGE - Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieu and the Louisiana Cultural Economy Foundation (LCEF) announced today the availability of $750,000 in grant funding through the LCEF's Economic Opportunity Fund. These grants will support unique opportunities to increase revenue or earned income for workers in the cultural economy, comprised of Louisiana's art, music, food, film, architecture and other cultural industries.
"As we work to grow and diversity Louisiana's economy, these grant dollars will help spur economic activity in the cultural economy," said Lt. Governor Landrieu. "After hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Foundation was successful in quickly raising more than $1 million and awarding 300 relief grants statewide. They are proactively moving into an economic development posture, concentrating on the economic health and quality of life of the state's entire cultural economy workforce. This is where commerce meets creativity."
The new fund will provide investment for increasing earned income for the recipient; lay the groundwork for financial equity for cultural stakeholders; promote innovation, entrepreneurial thinking and action; and stabilize and move forward the recovery of those affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
"Through the hard work of our volunteer Board of Directors, the LCEF is poised to make significant investment in the businesses, organizations and individuals who create Louisiana's unique cultural identity," said Scott Hutcheson, Executive Director of the Louisiana Cultural Economy Foundation.
An example of a grant opportunity might be funding a chef to develop a business plan to produce, market and distribute her sauces or assisting a painter to grow his income through print reproductions.
Grants will be awarded in two rounds this year. Details of the Economic Opportunity Fund, including guidelines, applications and deadlines, can be found on the LCEF's website at www.culturaleconomy.org.
ABOUT THE CULTURAL ECONOMY INITATIVE
In 2003, Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieu launched the Cultural Economy Initiative to grow jobs through Louisiana's music, food, film, architecture, art and other cultural industries. The initiative is based on the idea that Louisiana has an economic asset that other states can only dream of: a deeply-rooted, unique culture.
The Cultural Economy Initiative's first public expression was a conference held in December 2004 in New Orleans, where more than 1,100 cultural leaders from across the state gathered. The conference was vibrant - filled with artists, chefs, musicians, designers, architects, preservationists, academics, entrepreneurs, and government leaders. At this historic two-day event, attendees broke into work group sessions, outlining the opportunities and challenges associated with developing a business infrastructure in specific cultural industries.
As the next milestone, the National Endowment for the Arts helped fund a study of Louisiana's potential to develop its cultural economy. Over a ten-month period, expert economists at Mt. Auburn Associates researched the groundbreaking report, Louisiana: Where Culture Mean Business. (http://www.crt.state.la.us/CulturalEconomy/MtAuburn/culturaleconomyreport.pdf
This landmark study was unveiled at the Cultural Economy Summit II, in August of 2005, just four days before Hurricane Katrina made landfall.
Attendees of this vibrant summit learned from researchers that Louisiana's culture economy accounted for 144,000 jobs or 7.6% of the employment base, and cultural industries were the fastest growing in the state's economy.
In a state so accustomed to being at the top of the bad lists and the bottom of the good lists, attendees learned that they were taking the national lead in cultural economic development. Researchers explained that, "While many cities and states are looking at arts and culture or creating incentives, few states are approaching the cultural economy in as comprehensive a way as Louisiana."
Participants left the conference energized - armed with action plans to grow cultural industries.
A few days later, Hurricane Katrina struck, and soon after Hurricane Rita wreaked havoc in Southwest Louisiana. Immediately after the storm, Landrieu brought together stakeholders to develop a strategic plan to guide the recovery of Louisiana's tourism and cultural industries. The group married the ambitions of a vibrant Louisiana Cultural Economy with the realities of recent events to design the "Louisiana Rebirth" plan to guide the recovery of Louisiana's tourism industry and cultural economy.
An integral part of the Louisiana Rebirth plan was to provide critical financial assistance to cultural workers devastated by the storms. Landrieu's team did not wait for government assistance, but rather got to work. The independent Louisiana Cultural Economy Foundation quickly funded and administered a relief grant program. To date more than 300 relief grants have been awarded to individual artists, small businesses and nonprofits.
Today, the Cultural Economy Initiative is more relevant and important than it has ever been. Louisianans have an unprecedented opportunity to rebuild, and the Cultural Economy Initiative will help drive Louisiana's economic and social rebirth.
STATE OF THE CULTURAL ECONOMY
At the Third Annual Cultural Economy Summit, Michael Kane, researcher for Mt. Auburn Associates, gave a report on a study commissioned by this office on the state of the cultural industries.
The study indicates that cultural industries have retained their centrality to Louisiana's economic health, and that positive developments and opportunities are emerging as we make efforts to move the cultural economy forward:
The film industry, having recovered all jobs lost to Katrina by March 2006, has gained 1,000 jobs and has generated $750 million in production, affirming "Hollywood South" as one of the most desirable places to film in the nation. The film industry has experienced considerable growth beyond New Orleans, with Shreveport becoming an important film center, generating $300 million in production in 2005.
The music, performing and visual arts sectors, while having taken a major blow as artists were, and continue to be, displaced after the storm, and studios and venues face post- Katrina challenges, are stabilizing. Music and arts venues are reopening, and the Musician's Union is regaining membership, and celebrities with Louisiana roots are making commitments to support and preserve Louisiana's arts heritage.
New creative networks are forming as musicians between New Orleans, Lafayette, Baton Rouge and other hurricane-impacted communities cross-pollinate ideas. Through the rebuilding experience, artists and musicians are capturing worldwide attention as they find new inspiration and outlets, evidenced by the large number of benefit concerts, events and CD compilations popular across the world.
The report acknowledged that the preservation workforce in Louisiana needs special attention and support. Master craftsmen of New Orleans have been displaced, as 30,000 construction jobs were lost as a result of Katrina, leaving a lack of artisan skills available to address special needs in historic preservation.
The restaurant industry remains a major force of employment in the state, comprising about 7.3 percent of all employment. The Louisiana Restaurant Association was quoted as stating that 1,254 of New Orleans eating establishments and 1,718 of those in Jefferson Parish have reopened, though at reduced hours and staff.