On Saturday, October 22, Louisiana voters will elect a Lieutenant Governor to serve for the next four years.
As supporters of the Arts industry, the election on Saturday is particularly important to you. The Louisiana Division of the Arts, which is housed in the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, is directly overseen by the Lt. Governor. For these reasons, it is important for us to vote on Saturday, and to do so with knowledge of the issues.
Monday, October 17, a questionnaire was sent to both candidates vying for the office of Lt. Governor, offering them an opportunity to share their views and visions for Louisiana’s Arts and Tourism future. As of today, only one candidate has forwarded a response. We thought it important to share that response with you and will also provide the corresponding reply from the other candidate when it is received.
LPAA Survey 2011
Jay Dardenne Response
1. What did you do to support the arts and Louisiana’s creative economy prior to running for Lieutenant Governor?
My interest in supporting the arts began in 1984 when I was selected chairman of Baton Rouge’s first FestForAll. A few years later, I again served as President of the River City Festival Association. During my years as state senator, I continued supporting the arts through legislation and as spokesperson for the yearly “Arts Day at the Legislature” when schools from around the state participated in this annual event with a juried art show at the State Capitol. I believe strongly in the state’s responsibility to foster culture and the arts and to encourage the development of artists and craftsmen.
To that end, I authored a Senate Resolution requesting that the Department of Education develop an assessment to measure students’ knowledge in arts education with the goal of recognizing an appropriate arts curriculum. In 1999, I was the lead senate author of the “Percent for Art” bill, which requires that one percent of expenditures for construction or renovation of a state building be spent on works of art. This applies to all capital construction or renovation projects expending more than $2 million in state funds. This bill is still in effect today.
In addition, I was recognized for legislative leadership by the Louisiana Alliance for Arts Education (1999) and Arts Advocate of the Year by Impresarios Choice (2002). In 2006, I was chosen to serve as King of Baton Rouge’s annual Lollapalooza, a yearly arts event whose revenues are dedicated to the arts. In 2006, I was elected Secretary of State and part of my duties was the oversight of seventeen museums, including the Old State Capitol and the State Archives. I immediately increased the number of art shows and/or exhibits held at the State Archives from one every two or three months to two or more a month. I also established the first Friends Board for the state archives to support these events.
Since being elected Lieutenant Governor, I was honored by the Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation as the person “who has done more than anyone in state government to preserve historic structures.” In addition, the Office of the Lieutenant Governor and the Louisiana Bicentennial Commission have partnered with the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts (GRFA) to sponsor the official poster contest for the Louisiana Bicentennial. The GRFA challenges high school juniors and seniors to create an artwork that honors Louisiana and captures those traits that set Louisiana apart. Either the first place senior or junior winner of the GRFA 2012 Scholarship Art contest will be chosen as the official poster of the Louisiana Bicentennial and the GRFA will provide $45,000 in college scholarships and awards to contest winners.
2. Statewide Arts Grants and Decentralized Arts Grants combined are down almost 50% from three years ago. How will you work to restore funding to a meaningful level that will benefit Louisiana’s citizens?
During last year’s legislative session, I requested that the legislature fund the arts at a level of $4 million. In the previous fiscal year, the arts were funded at $3.5 million. I worked actively with the Louisiana Partnership for the Arts and with the Arts Advocacy toward this goal. Because of our joint efforts, $500,000 was added to the executive budget for arts funding. I am eager to continue working with arts advocates to educate the legislature on the importance of arts to tourism and to education. Working together, we will appeal to the legislature to reinstate the cuts that have had such a negative impact 1 on arts organizations. These dollars are directly related to jobs and economic development both of which are important in helping the state economy rebound. I will continue our already established relationship with the Department of Economic Development and the motion picture industry to hire Louisiana artists and musicians and will continue to be a champion for all of our arts and cultural resources.
3. What is your vision for the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism?
My vision for the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism (DCRT) is to position it to move Louisiana’s economy forward. The arts, culture and recreation are fundamental to the success of tourism. I have given over 600 speeches across the state in the last four years promoting everything good about Louisiana. I will continue to be a champion and spokesperson of the arts and everything good that Louisiana represents.
The LPAA asks you to remember that your informed vote for this important office helps determine who will serve as the leader of the department responsible for arts, recreation, tourism, museums, archaeology, historic preservation, and cultural development—all key elements of Louisiana’s economy and unique identity.
Christie Weeks, Chair
Matt Young, Vice-Chair for Advocacy
Louisiana Partnership for Arts Advocacy