Report Stresses Importance of Cultural Regeneration in New Orleans

Classic Arts News   Report Stresses Importance of Cultural Regeneration in New Orleans
 
Helping New Orleans' devastated cultural institutions recover is nearly as important as rebuilding levees and fixing roads in the beleaguered city, says a report released January 16 by the cultural committee of Mayor C. Ray Nagin's Bring New Orleans Back Commission.

Among the committee's non-binding recommendations, reports the Associated Press, are the construction of a National Jazz Center, which would include a museum, concert hall, recording studio, and archive.

The committee also proposed creating new artistic districts, increasing arts teaching in schools, and reserving 2 percent of eligible capital bonds for public sculptures, murals, and other artwork.

Even before Hurricane Katrina, many New Orleans buildings important to jazz history had fallen into disrepair; Louis Armstrong's house was even demolished. The report backs a plan to preserve historic buildings associated with Armstrong and other jazz notables on Rampart Street and turn them into a jazz park.

Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, the cultural committee's co-chairman, told the Associated Press that he was hoping to alert tourists to local landmarks, saying, "In Vienna, every place Beethoven looked at, it's marked by something."

Since Katrina hit New Orleans on August 29, most of the city's non-profit cultural organizations have remained closed. The report states that 11,000 arts employees lost their jobs after the storm; fewer than 250 of the city's more than 2,000 musicians have returned.

Pre-Katrina, the city's cultural institutions generated more than $300 million in economic activity.


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