Community Engagement Sessions
Input from the cultural community is central to our mission and drives all of the work that we do. While we have a very active presence on social media, we know that a lot of times, the best way to get feedback is face to face. To that end, we hold periodic ‘Community Engagement Sessions’ on important issues facing our musicians, artists, traditional culture bearers, and small businesses. Engagement session topics have included:
Frenchmen Street: Over the past decade, Frenchmen Street has seen explosive growth, but has also placed increasing pressure on the surrounding neighborhood. The increase in number of visitors also hasn’t corresponded with higher incomes for the musicians who play the street, and there are often conflicts between street performers and music venues. We’re working with all groups to help develop solutions to ensure the sustainability of the street and a higher income for performers.
Housing and the Cultural Community: The lack of affordable housing in New Orleans is one of the largest issues facing our musicians, artists, and traditional culture bearers. We are working with housing advocacy organizations to provide pathways for assistance, but also creating spaces where these housing organizations can hear the specific needs of the cultural community, and help develop strategies for joint advocacy.
Transportation and the Cultural Community: Lack of reliable public transportation and at times unsafe biking conditions are major concerns for many musicians and service industry workers, particularly as gentrification and displacement are pushing more and more working class residents farther from the tourism heavy core of the city. We brought transportation advocacy groups together with musicians and service industry workers to ensure their specific transportation needs are heard and met.
The ‘Public Safety Improvement Plan’: In January of 2017, the Mayor of New Orleans introduced a $40 million dollar plan that not only created a real time surveillance network, but also proposed serious changes to cultural activity in the French Quarter (based on a Times Square model), as well as surveillance of all bars, music venues and restaurants that sold alcohol. There was not public input in the plan, so we held the first public meeting about it, starting an engagement process that ultimately led to the withdrawal of several problematic proposals included in the plan, including the surveillance of bars, restaurants, and music venues.