Dear Gov. Jindal and Staff:
I write you today about music, an issue connected to both economic development and natural resources. Since 2005, the Louisiana Music Commission has been a broken agency. It was sabotaged by an alteration of its legislation in which it was turned from an independent, dedicated commission to a division of LED with direct oversight/management responsibility shifted from the LMC’s Chairman to the Secretary of LED. The result is that the LMC is now subject to the expectations and directives of people whose lives were and are not immersed in the realities of music.
Since 2005 the LMC has been dismantled, de-staffed, unfunded and purged of 14 years of records. Its websites, established in 1997 and recognized as top sites for information, news and links to Louisiana’s complex and rich musical resources, were eliminated and the URLs lost. There continues to be no office, website or publicly accessible vehicle for our music professionals to access in support of their always difficult calling.
The LMC under Chairman Ellis Marsalis was a leader in transparency via its website. It published every report, press release and plan, complete with links, as soon as such docs were produced. It had an office, a staff and a budget. It had the autonomy it needed to research, define and implement programs and projects. It had the ability to react quickly to needs and situations. It was responsive, effective and accomplished many goals.
The LMC handled literally thousands of calls and emails annually. It developed educational initiatives, radio and television programs, economic development projects, advertising and promotional campaigns, and served as an advocate and voice for the state’s often misunderstood musicians and music professionals.
Today, the LMC budget is part of LED. It must compete with industries that are far more organized and structured. It is dying.
Music is too important to be lumped-in with any other industry, including film; because, in Louisiana, music is complex and unlike any other resource. It is a naturally occurring but fragile component of life. It is a family with four generations of God-given grace and talent. It is a 10 year old with an accordion, trumpet or trombone. It is a crusty street musician in the French Quarter. It is a tenor in the nation’s longest-running opera company. And it is depended upon by every one of us as part of the fabric of our lives, part of what makes us laugh, cry, dance and BE Louisiana.
Today, Louisiana’s eyes are glazed-over by the glitter of Hollywood while its crown jewel, music, is buried in a bureaucracy that cannot and should not be responsible for the future of this complex, beautiful and fragile asset.
The LMC needs to be returned to its status as a proper commission, with autonomy, an office, a budget, a staff, a website and a mission to serve. It needs to be returned to its leadership under Chairman Ellis Marsalis who has generously volunteered to once again, rebuild this badly needed entity.
I ask that you take the bold step of appointing Ellis Marsalis as Chairman of the LMC, that you reinstate the original legislation (LS R.S. 25: 315-317) that gave operational control to the board and that you fund the office, staff and mission of this currently ineffective and misdirected agency.
Thank you for your efforts to restore Louisiana. And it is with a sense of optimism that I submit this letter. I remain dedicated to our great state and look forward to doing my part to help you move us forward into a better future for all.
New Orleans LA