In January, on the eve of the inauguration of Billy Nungesser as lieutenant governor, I asked some of New Orleans’ leading cultural advocates what they’d like to see in terms of his priorities for supporting the cultural life of New Orleans in particular and the state of Louisiana in general.
(You can read the responses here, which often spoke to the overall need to support the arts both with vocal and financial support.)
After gathering and publishing the responses, I reached out to the lieutenant governor’s for his own response, based in part on what he’d seen. He was gracious enough to agree, and we appreciate him taking the time. That said, here is his response:
I appreciate the opportunity to respond to the recent piece on what New Orleans cultural advocates are seeking from me as I take office. I want to start by saying that it is an absolute privilege and honor to serve as the 54th Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to promote our great state and open our doors to the rest of the world.
I want to echo the sentiments of First Lady Donna Edwards as she supports music and arts education as a top priority in what she would like to see grow and flourish in our educational systems. I want to make her a champion of this effort, and I hope that she will help us to further explore opportunities to educate and enrich young minds through music and arts education.
Unequivocally, we will have to be creative and innovative to support funding for the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism in the coming months. We will be thinking outside the box and examine options such as public-private partnerships to secure the monies for critical programs.
Louisiana is a thriving place, especially New Orleans, and I am delighted to have the privilege to represent and serve its people. We will continue to encourage ideas that attract artists and grow our numbers to continue to make our state not only a global tourist destination, but a quality destination that keeps people coming back and wanting more.
The music industry is also critical to the success of our state. NOMC is a unique program with a positive mission to impact our local musicians. I support this initiative. We will also highlight local artists and use their work to promote the state.
I want to continue to see arts and culture tourism as a top priority. Funding will be extremely challenging as I mentioned previously with the budget turmoil we are facing, but I will be open to helping all events that promote our state succeed in innovative and resourceful ways.
Our food, music, arts, culture, history and people are what make Louisiana special. And since the past is always present in Louisiana, let us be true to our heritage while still promoting a bold future. The passion and love that each of you have for the industry is what excites me to do this job! I look forward to working with you as Lieutenant Governor.
All my best,
Lieutenant Governor, State of Louisiana”