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Hurricane Katrina & The Arts

Some Ways You Can Help

I am writing from Swine Palace, the professional theatre company affiliated with the Louisiana State University Department of Theatre in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I am hoping you can pass on to your readers information regarding an arts-related unified disaster relief effort. As the reports from New Orleans continue to come in, it is clear that South Louisiana faces a dire situation as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Here in Baton Rouge, we are expecting our population to double in the next few days as more evacuees and displaced citizens are relocated here.

Currently, Swine Palace is working on a number of ways to service the many evacuees in Baton Rouge and further participate in the disaster relief efforts. As such, we would like to appeal to our fellow arts organizations across the country to participate in what we are calling the Arts United for Hurricane Relief program. We are asking that organizations consider ways to solicit hurricane relief donations. Some of the ways that they might participate is by placing a donation jar in the their lobby, including an insert or ad in the program, including a link on their website or possibly donating the proceeds of a special performance. There are a variety of funds to which the proceeds can be donated including the American Red Cross (www.redcross.org), The Hurricane Katrina Displaced Residents Fund or the Hurricane Katrina New Orleans Recovery Fund both of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation (www.braf.org) or the Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund of the LSU Foundation. We are certainly not asking that any organization jeopardize their own funding efforts, but any assistance would be greatly appreciated. We are currently setting-up a link on our website (www.swinepalace.org) which will provide additional information, links and downloads as well as a list of all the organizations that participate. In the meantime, organizations who would like to participate can contact me at 225-578-9274 or ksosno1@lsu.edu

Thank you for your assistance.

Kristin Sosnowsky
Managing Director
Swine Palace Productions
Reilly Theatre
Tower Dr. - LSU
Baton Rouge, LA 70803

Stories & Resources

Tyler Green's list of arts-related hurricane links

Terry Teachout & Our Girl in Chicago's comprehensive list of hurricane-related links and blogs

Cultureshock - New Orleans Culture On The Run "Last year, the city hosted more than 10 million visitors, many to sample that cuisine and music scene, and was on track this year to eclipse those figures. The city also was having success with tax incentives to film companies, making it possible for the filming of "All the King's Men," "The Skeleton Key" and parts of "The Dukes of Hazzard" and other films. Now, the bedrock and lifeblood of the city and the culture that it spawned have been threatened by flood waters and disease and a forced exodus." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 09/11/05

New Orleans - History To Build On "Deep racial and class divisions aside, New Orleans is one of the few places in America that, in the best sense, looks its age. Though it is unusually vulnerable to natural disaster, nearly all of its neighborhoods have managed to avoid the urban renewal and crass commercial projects that have taken their toll elsewhere. This is partly due to the intractable poverty here, which has made great sections of New Orleans unattractive to national developers, and partly to a long-standing preservation movement. Katrina, in other words, has managed to do to this city what a wrecking ball never could." Los Angeles Times 09/08/05

Volunteer Radio Effort Scuttled By Relief Officials One of the more frequent complaints from survivors of Hurricane Katrina has been the government's utter failure to coordinate and distribute the information they need in order to begin rebuilding their lives. So when a group of well-meaning Houston residents decided to set up a low-power FM radio station aimed at the refugee-choked AstroDome and dedicated to repeating crucial information 24 hours a day, public officials at all levels were excited. But it didn't take long for the tangled bureaucracy governing relief efforts to first delay, and then completely shut down the volunteers' efforts, for reasons passing understanding. Wired 09/09/05

Imagining The New New Orleans Benjamin Forgey says that, given the cost and time sure to be involved, it is not unreasonable for some to be questioning whether New Orleans ought to be rebuilt. But he also says that there are several very clear reasons that it must be. "New Orleans... is a national issue because it is a national treasure. Simple as that. Actually -- because of its history, its unique blending of cultures, especially in architecture and music, and its unending sociability -- the city is an international treasure... The big question, then, is how to do the job. Getting the money and repairing the infrastructure are the easy parts, at least in theory. But who will do the thinking, the conceptualizing of a rebuilt New Orleans? And what, precisely, will be rebuilt? Who will live there, who will visit and what will be its economic engine?" Washington Post 09/08/05

Can A Scene Survive Without Its Backdrop? New Orleans is, of course, an important place in the history of American music. But what many Americans don't know is that there is far more to the Big Easy than jazz funerals and Dixieland. "New Orleans is a jazz town, but also a funk town, a brass-band town, a hip-hop town and a jam-band town. It has international jazz musicians and hip-hop superstars, but also a true, subsistence-level street culture. Much of its music is tied to geography and neighborhoods, and crowds." Because of that reliance on neighborhood identity, many are asking whether the New Orleans scene can ever be rebuilt. After all, if the Lower Ninth Ward has ceased to exist, what happens to the sound cultivated by its residents for so many decades? The New York Times 09/08/05

Wichita Holds A Place For LPO Musicians Kansas's Wichita Symphony and Wichita Grand Opera are offering to hire one member of the New Orleans-based Louisiana Philharmonic for each performance scheduled in 2005-06, with no audition required. The chair could be filled by the same musician for the entire season, or by a rotating series of players. The musicians' union has put out a call for orchestras across the country to offer work to the New Orleans musicians. Wichita Eagle (KS) 09/08/05

The New Orleans Violinist Unmasked In the awful days following the levee breaks in New Orleans, the Baton Rouge Advocate captured a moving photo of a lone violinist, seen from above, playing Bach for a roomful of his fellow hurricane survivors. The photo was reproduced around the world, and this week, AJ Blogger Jan Herman caught up with the subject. Samuel Thompson is "a professional musician, born 34 years ago in Charleston, S.C., who took up the violin at age 9, and has studied at the University of South Carolina, Oklahoma State University and Rice University." Like so many others displaced by the storm, he is hoping to rebuild his life on the back of his talent, and the works he was performing to soothe the refugees of New Orleans are the same ones he has been using in orchestral auditions over the last several months. Straight Up (AJ Blogs) 09/07/05

Fiddling As Rome Burns? Exactly. Critic Mark Morford spent the days during and after Hurricane Katrina at the infamous Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert, filing reports that struck some of his readers as lacking in gravitas, given the events unfolding on the Gulf Coast. But as Morford points out, the world does not stop when a tragedy occurs, and leaving aside the fact that the Burning Man participants passed the hat and raised thousands for the relief effort, "in the wake of any national disaster or mounting death toll, it is exactly those things that celebrate life that we turn to offer salve and balm and resurrection of spirit. In other words, in the aftermath of hurricanes and national tragedies and in the face of the most ham-fisted and heartless and freedom-stabbing administration in recent American history, we need this sort of 'trifling' Burning Man fluff more than ever, to act as spark, as beacon, as counterbalance." San Francisco Chronicle 09/07/05
Posted: 09/07/2005 7:05 am

An American Tragedy, Live & All Too Local Nick Spitzer's popular public radio program, American Routes, has always been heavily flavored by New Orleans, the city from whence it originates. Now the program, like everyone else in the Big Easy, is in exile, and Spitzer is using the program as an unofficial catalog of the cultural loss of one of America's great musical centers. According to Spitzer, Katrina "[may be] America's biggest cultural disaster - in the sense of the loss of New Orleans's cultural stuff, the loss of the communities there that interact and the lack of will to move as quickly as if these houses being flooded were on the coast of Kennebunkport. And even for those of us who got out, there's this grinding uncertainty of whether we'll ever get back and ever live the same again." The New York Times 09/07/05

Why The LPO May Be Doomed All members of the now-homeless Louisiana Philharmonic survived the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, but many have lost everything they had, and the future of the orchestra itself hangs in the balance. Adding to the uncertainty surrounding the LPO's future is the fact that the ensemble is run by its musicians, who will have to seek employment in other cities while New Orleans is being rebuilt. Those who land jobs elsewhere may not be available to return to the LPO even if it does survive. One of the orchestra's violists tells Violinist.com that "I would love to go back to a properly rebuilt city and the orchestra the way it was, but I just canít see how that will happen." Violinist.com 09/03/05

Orchestra World Offers Help To Louisiana Musicians Offers of help are pouring in to members of the Louisiana Philharmonic. "Other orchestras, mostly regional ensembles where the pool of available musicians is small, are lending a hand, too. Many have offered temporary jobs or the prospect of auditions to the Philharmonic's 66 players, who have scattered around the country. All but one of the musicians had safely left the city or were already elsewhere for summer engagements, members of the orchestra said yesterday." The New York Times 09/05/05
Posted: 09/05/2005 5:49 pm

New Orleans Opera Cancels New Orleans Opera has canceled its fall productions. "The warehouse where the company stores its sets is likely under water. The condition of the Mahalia Jackson Theatre of the Performing Arts, where it performs, is unknown." There may be more far-reaching effects: "New Orleans Opera is one of the foremost rents of scenery and costumes in the country. They're having to warn people all over the country that they may not be able to meet the contract." PlaybillArts (GRP) 09/05/05

What New Orleans Means "For a city of only half a million people, New Orleans looms as large in our cultural imagination as L.A. or Chicago. Playwrights, novelists, poets, film directors, painters, chefs, dive-bar raconteurs and especially musicians all have drunk deeply of the city's heady brew of flamboyance and decadence, joie de vivre and fatalism, the sexy and the sinister." Los Angeles Times 09/05/05

Status: Cultural Instititutions After The Hurricane Wondering what has happened to cultural institutions on the Gulf Coast after huricane Katrina? Here's a list compiled by the American Association of Museums... AAM 09/01/05

New Orleans Art Museum Survives Katrina The New Orleans Museum of Art has survived the hurricane. "But when Federal Emergency Management Agency representatives arrived in the area Wednesday, NOMA employees holed up inside the museum were left in a quandary: FEMA wanted those evacuees to move to a safer location, but there was no way to secure the artwork inside. Six security and maintenance employees remained on duty during the hurricane and were joined by 30 evacuees, including the families of some employees." The Times-Picayune (New Orleans) 08/31/05

Can You Help The Louisiana Philharmonic? A plea from the AFM: "As we all know the musicians of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra are currently, and likely will be unemployed from their orchestra for some time, due to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. In an effort to assist these musicians, it would be extremely helpful if those orchestras who have a need for substitute, extra or other casual musicians could make such need known to the LPO musicians who may desire such employment." Adaptistration (AJBlogs) 09/01/05

Gulf Coast Cultural Institutions In Peril "The state of many cultural institutions in New Orleans and other parts of Louisiana and Mississippi are largely unknown, those preparing to help say. The Heritage Emergency National Task Force - a coalition of 36 federal agencies and national organizations - held a conference call yesterday to plan for help, said Jane Long, task force director. It is a project of Heritage Preservation, a national nonprofit, in Washington. The main problem, she said, is the lack of information, particularly about New Orleans."
Philadelphia Inquirer

Rebuilding New Orleans (But How?) A thirty-year-old book reported that "of all the cities that had been flooded, burned, sacked, leveled by earthquake, buried in lava, or in some way or another destroyed worldwide between 1100 and 1800, only a few dozen had been permanently abandoned. Cities, in other words, tend to get rebuilt no matter what.We've been assured that New Orleans will, too. But, after what promises to be a Herculean clean-up operation, what will the new New Orleans look like? How much will it resemble its antediluvian self?" Boston Globe 09/04/05

Americans for the Arts Hurricane Relief Bulletin Board

Craft Emergency Relief Fund

New York Foundation for the Arts Emergency Resources

Community Arts Network's Blog on Artists and Disaster Relief

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