New Orleans was hit hard by COVID following a bustling Carnival season, arguably our busiest time of the year, where locals and tourists alike come to celebrate the season. Ever since then, the city has been very cautious in their approach to reopening. A result of that was a city wide ban on live music, both in a venue and in the streets, in an attempt to limit gatherings. Needless to say, the local venues struggling. Relief resources have not been provided, and the current outlook seems very dim regarding future sustainability.
Scroll below to read the full interview from October, 2020 with the New Orleans Pilot City Leader, Ashlye Keaton.
What did the overall situation look like in your city when the pandemic hit?
New Orleans was hit hard by COVID following a bustling Carnival season, arguably our busiest time of the year, where flicks of locals and tourists alike come shoulder to shoulder at a myriad of parades and other events to celebrate the season. Cultural and hospitality workers are at the heart of the Carnival workforce, and many were directly impacted by COVID. Many members of the cultural community were diagnosed with COVID, and too many were hospitalized, and too many did not survive. New Orleans has a majority African American population, and as statistics demonstrate, black communities were and continue to be disparately, adversely impacted by COVID. What that meant for New Orleans is that the City needed to take extraordinary measures to come together for the first time by intentionally staying apart.
What is the current situation in your city? What has changed?
New Orleans has been very conservative in its approach to reopening, and numbers are declining because of strict measures and a population that seems mostly committed to social distancing and other practical measures that deter the spread of the virus.
What did you get out of being a pilot city in the REVS initiative?
REVS was an illuminating experience insofar as the opportunities to exchange with other cities and communities around their respective frameworks, constituencies, approaches, and in some cases, guidelines and test cases. REVS provided each pilot city with the rare opportunity to exchange meaningfully with other thought leaders across the country at a time when there were few answers to critical questions around navigating the tremendous challenges in connection with the pandemic.
Were you able to procure funding for the local venues? If so, where did the support come from?
Our venues have very little to no support other than a platform for exchanging with each other. Relief resources have not been provided, and the current outlook seems very dim regarding future sustainability.