Monthly Archives: June, 2007

Music in the schools: A First Step PASSES

SB 299 by Sen. Broome is making its way through the Louisiana Legislature. The bill is part of the legislative package put forth by Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu and creates a system whereby there will be one hour per week of arts education available to K-8 within 3 years and K-12 the folowing year. The bill appears to be on a roll since it passed the senate unanimously. Though not a comprehensive solution, it is a major first step. As Ellis Marsalis advocates, for Louisiana to truly thrive, the arts must be mandated coursework required for graduation and should become a participatory/celebratory component of education that shares the same respect we give sports. Amen.

The Fiscal Note for SB 299 reveals budgetary details that explain how the bill will be implemented. This first step entails creating a system that, at first, will be available to all schools but will by utilized only by schools that budget for the program.

The bill unanimously passed both the House and Senate and now awaits the Governor’s signature. Congratulations to Lt. Gov. Landrieu and staff on this important victory!


Cajun/Zydeco Grammy® Category!

A hard fought, more than 6 year battle, singularly led by a determined Cynthia Simien, is finally won. There is now a Grammy® category for Cajun & Zydeco music. The effort was perceived by Louisiana music advocates as an obvious gap in the awards; but, the process of adding a category was overwhelming to most. Cynthia Simien, whose husband Terrance Simien is a major zydeco star and advocate, spent countless hours working the system to achieve this milestone. She not only joined the Recording Academy (NARAS), which gives the awards, but rose through the organization to become a member of its regional Board of Governors where she worked tirelessly to make this happen.

Though many people lent their names and time to this effort, it is and was the work of Cynthia Simien that deserves the most credit. She rightfully deserves accolades far beyond what I can give via this blog. Those of us who know Cynthia and shared her energy and her sometimes much-deserved wrath, are proud beyond words for her, Terrance and for Louisiana. We now have a validation long sought; and, every year, Cajun and Zydeco music will have a bright spotlight as the Grammys® honor our best.

Thank you Cynthia & Terrance Simien. You have honored Louisiana with this remarkable and permanent achievement.

Hollywood & Louisiana: A Love Affair in a Brothel

You know, it really upsets me how Louisiana politicians and press fall all over themselves for Hollywood. I mean, how is it that millions upon millions of dollars can be spent to help subsidize production for movies and people who are admittedly doing a job here, but whose lives, work and imagination are based elsewhere.

I know this may seem petty, but we are one of the world’s greatest creative wellsprings. We always have been. And yet this creativity is not nurtured.

The major media companies are nothing without content. We are a source of content. It’s long been said in these media-dominated times that “content is king.” Well then why the hell aren’t we king of the hill?

Because we’d rather invest in other people’s dreams than our own.

The prevailing wisdom in Baton Rouge and in the eyes of the few media hounds reporting on government is that an expert is someone from out of state with a briefcase and a plan. And we seem to be a sucker for “experts.”

Our economic development orientation is consistently focused on finding the big fish. And those big fish evidently are not from Louisiana. So our leaders spend their time and money courting German steel mills, Asian automakers and Hollywood developers while back at home our citizens are living, breathing and weaving a creative quilt of cultural riches that is the envy of the world.

The controversy today is whether the movie tax credit system has been abused and misused. Whether or not that’s true, the fact is our indigenous talent has long been ignored by the same people who jump to spend tens, if not hundreds of millions supporting out of state entities while Louisiana talent struggles.

I don’t know what you call it, but I call it a lot of things. And since I don’t want this blog to resort to profanity, I’ll leave it at that.