The Future of New Orleans Lies in Our Creative Economy
An open letter to the city of New Orleans and the board of directors for the Louisiana Artworks
Dear Board of Directors -
On Dec 3, 2014 we will submit our proposal for the Louisiana Artworks building on behalf of Launch Pad. Our passion for this project is based on our belief that building a strong arts and entrepreneurship community will support New Orleans future prosperity and placement as a leader in all areas of the creative arts.
In 2018, New Orleans will celebrate the tricentennial of our city. Imagine what this future could look like for our city and our creative talent. My dream is we will have built a thriving creative industry that empowers artists and creatives with business and career opportunities.
Here’s what that vision can look like:
Visual artists, printmakers and artists in other mediums could thrive with access to top equipment at the Artworks building. Iconic fashion brands and designers could modernize New Orleans traditions creating a home-grown fashion industry. Animation and mobile game studios could be launched in Louisiana by talented artists and designers who now have access to equipment and processes to work digitally and distribute their work globally. As manufacturing and product development returns to the United States, Louisiana could reclaim her place as a leader in brands and products in the digital age because our creators have proficiency in prototyping and product development through access to 3D printers and equipment at the Artworks maker space. New Orleans could have a thriving music industry as learning the mechanics of licensing, publishing and distribution is something every New Orleans musician has access too.
As we celebrate the three hundredth anniversary of New Orleans, people will see New Orleans not just as a destination for great food and jazz music, but as a modern marvel - a model city to experience leading-edge creative innovation and new trends for the arts. New Orleans could be the best place in the world to build a career as a creative worker and artist.
We can ignite the arts community to deliver on this promise.
Five years ago, New Orleans stood at a similar crossroads. The entrepreneurial movement was nascent, a small group of leaders met to discuss how to fuel startups in the city. What if we had a physical hub that represented the New Orleans startup scene we asked? Idea Village, GNO Inc, Launch Pad, Turbo Squid, Carrolton Technology and Iseatz decided to move into a building together. Soon, the magic of community and collaboration took hold.
In the summer of 2009, Patrick Comer sat at a coworking desk at Launch Pad, putting the finishing touches on his business plan. Today, his startup, Federated Sample is a vanguard of New Orleans tech and employs 50 people in downtown. Jen Medberry was a Teach for America teacher with an idea of how to better equip teachers with data when she visited Launch Pad for the first time for a BarCamp conference. Today, her startup, Kickboard is the leading company in the New Orleans Education Tech movement. Inspired by the collaboration in the tech community, Matt Candler started his education incubator, 4.0 Schools, at Launch Pad before graduating into the IP building with a country-leading education incubator. Andrea Chen worked at Launch Pad for two years developing the plan for Propeller, the social entrepreneurship incubator that is giving rise to businesses and non-profits that help solve critical problems for our community.
Entrepreneurs who started at Launch Pad are fueling the startup economy that is creating jobs and meaningful economic impact on the city of New Orleans. Collaboration with organizations like Idea Village to provide training and access to capital to fuel the growth of these businesses. An unorganized cohort of organizations has morphed into a clear ecosystem of partners: Launch Pad, Idea Village, GNO Inc, DDD, New Orleans Startup Fund, South Coast Angels, New Orleans BioInnovation Center all are working towards a common goal of helping entrepreneurs to launch and grow their business in New Orleans.
Taking a moment to look up reveals a simplicity to what we’ve been nurturing for the last five years:
Give entrepreneurs a place to work collaboratively, to learn from peers and mentors. Develop a national network for capital, customers and partnerships that entrepreneurs can plug into. Launch Pad has created a internationally recognized hub of entrepreneurship in New Orleans and this platform has launched a movement that is has real economic impact on our city.
New Orleans has been a creative muse to generations of artists. Inspired here, novels have been penned, stunning works of art painted, and even America’s only original art-form, Jazz, created. While New Orleans has incubated incredible talent, too often to build a career pursuing their art has meant leaving New Orleans. Our vision for Artworks will ignite the creative economy that in five years will establish world-class creative industries based in New Orleans, our home.
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