‘Business of Art’ symposium today in Lake Charles

By By Lance Traweek / American Press

In 2004, Mitch Landrieu, then lieutenant governor, launched the Cultural Economy initiative in Louisiana.

“Driving the movement is Louisiana’s

deeply rooted authentic culture,” said George Swift, president/CEO of

the Southwest Louisiana

Economic Development Alliance.

Swift said the aim of the initiative is to improve the lives of Louisiana residents and create jobs through Louisiana’s music,

food, film, architecture, art and other cultural industries.

The alliance, the city of Lake Charles, the Arts and Humanities Council and the Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors

Bureau will come together Thursday to host the symposium “The Business of Art: Developing Cultural Economies.”

The event will be 11:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. in the Contraband Room at the Civic Center. Admission is $10, lunch included.

“This is an effort to target the

cultural segment and diversify our economy,” Swift said. “The aim of the

symposium is to

connect the business community with the arts community and to get

people talking about ways to weave local creative economy

workers into their businesses.

“Businesses that display local art in their reception areas and host events featuring local artists and performers breathe

a new energy into the community and their clientele.”

Since the most recent study in 2010, Swift said he has noticed 148,500 people in Louisiana’s workforce are cultural economy

workers — or 7 percent of the state’s workforce.

“Investing in our cultural economy

gives our economy a boost and has shown real results statewide and

locally in our communities,”

Swift said. “Southwest Louisiana and Lake Charles are wise to have

such an active interest in the movement.”

He said the city of Lake Charles has already invested millions in public spaces such as parks, the boardwalk and Ryan Street,

giving downtown and the lakefront a much needed boost of energy.

“As further examples, Sulphur and DeRidder have also made investments in parks and common areas,” he said.

Symposium attendees will hear remarks from keynote speaker Malcolm White, executive director of the Mississippi Arts Commission.

Swift said White is a dynamic personality and speaker and an accomplished businessman.

“Following Hurricane Katrina in

Mississippi, he played an instrumental role in the cultural rebuilding

of the Gulf Coast communities

by creating and composing new possibilities for artists and arts

institutions in Mississippi’s lower six counties,” Swift


Other speakers will be Pam Breaux, assistant secretary with the state’s Office of Cultural Development, and Mayor Randy Roach.

Swift said he looks forward to a day brimming with energy and ideas from the community fueled by stories and experience from

the featured speakers and panelists.