After leaving New Orleans, I asked my husband if he would want to move there immediately–I loved it that much. While the excellent food, music, artwork, and scenery were all exceptional, what really struck me about this city was the sense of community and support for the creative industry. Since I was on a press trip with a group of fellow writers, we had the opportunity to chat with several prominent city leaders and entrepreneurs to discuss the city’s recovery from Hurricane Katrina and their vision for the future. As an outsider, I came to the conclusion that leaders from other cities would benefit from studying the New Orleans economy and leadership, while other regular citizens should take note of the New Orleanian commitment to being a contributing, active part of the community and support all things culturally significant.
So what does the term cultural economy mean? The mayor and other community leaders aim to support people in the creative industry while also enticing other creative types to see New Orleans as an ideal place to start their new business venture. With every decision that these leaders make, they take into account the impact it will have on those involved in the cultural industries.
As a result, artists, musicians, and other individuals in creative fields thrive in New Orleans. Locals come out in large numbers to support the many galleries and museums that are found in the city such as the Ogden, New Orleans Museum of Art, Stella Jones Gallery, and the Contemporary Arts Center. Affordable housing can also be found in neighborhoods like Treme and Freret where locals and outsiders alike have bought and renovated housing that can be rented or purchased at excellent rates.
Individual artists are not the only ones to benefit from the mindset of the New Orleans government and influential leaders. Innovative entrepreneurs are welcomed in New Orleans as well, and many have taken over buildings at affordable prices that stood empty after Katrina. New Orleans has become an attractive place for businesses to locate their headquarters, such as The Receivables Exchange, a company that allows businesses to gain access to capital in as little as one business day by selling their receivables to interested buyers.
The effect of the focus on growing and maintaining a strong cultural economy is that people from all over the United States, in the most substantial numbers from Brooklyn, have moved to New Orleans with a sense of idealism and noticeable hope. The energy and commitment to helping New Orleans become the best city it can is evident when talking to anyone that lives there. New Orleanians love their city and life, and Katrina’s devastating occurrence appears to have merely solidified their dedication to this unique, amazing city bursting with possibilities.