Is art essential to the revitalization of New Orleans: Voices from The Listening Post

Editor’s Note: ViaNolaVie is working with the founder and producers of the The Listening Post. TLP is a community media project that aims to meet residents deep in their own neighborhoods, on porches, at libraries, in barbershops, and start conversations about local news in New Orleans and both get and share important information about life in the city. 

Each week on their WWNO radio segment, TLP explores issues ranging from healthcare and WhoDat, to tattoos and transportation. Listeners are able to contribute via TLP recording devices at local libraries or via a text messaging service, which then became source material for these programs. This piece aired on March 20, 2014.

Citizens artists create their own street signs along Bayou St. John. (Photo by: Jesse Hardman)

Every week WWNO’s Listening Post project asks questions about local news in New Orleans and reports back on the community’s response. This week’s topic is art and revitalization.

Local artist Jacques Duffourc has made New Orleans his canvas for many years.

“Everyone has a voice and everyone is a creator themselves and creates the place that they want around them. And they’re allowed to do so. There’s not a whole lot of rules here. If you want to walk around with your pajamas on, people are going to celebrate that,” says Duffourc.

As part of our project we’ve placed digital recording sculptures at the Norman Mayer library in Gentilly, HeadQuarters Barber Shop on Broad street, and for this segment, at the annual Creative Alliance of New Orleans Ball.

This week we asked people:

1. How is art essential to the revitalization and future of New Orleans?
2. In a city with a long list of problems, why should preserving and protecting culture be a top priority?

We sent out these questions via text message. Here are a few of the responses we got back:

“Outlets for individual expression can help ease the collective trauma of disaster, violence and inequality.

“It keeps us human”


“The aspect of New Orleans culture that speaks to me the most is the sense of inclusiveness and a non-corporate (arguably anti-corporate) mindset”

“Artists are part of the bourgeoisie. They must be destroyed.”

Results from our text message survey. (Photo credit: Groundsource)


For the last word in our segment, we talked Arts Council of New Orleans president and CEO Kim Cook.

“It’s resilient. It’s life force. It’s absolutely systemic to what New Orleans is. It’s what the New Orleans native breathes and it’s what the New Orleans newcomer is attracted by. And what we have to be careful to do is to amplify and not just dilute or reduce to the periphery that key heart of culture that is driving the revitalization. It’s why people want to live here,” says Cook.


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