Jazz Funeral Downtown Baton Rouge

Wednesday, April 1, 2009 - 6:46pm

A jazz funeral rolled through the streets of downtown Baton Rouge today. Artists and supporters say the arts are dying the Bayou State. Artists say proposed budget cuts will be the death of the arts in Louisiana. They also say cuts will have tourists making a U-turn and heading away from Louisiana.

A jazz funeral rolled through downtown Baton Rouge for what many consider the death of art. Christopher Krejci organized the jazz funeral, “What better way to send it off than in true Louisiana style.” Governor Jindal’s proposed budget includes an 83% cut in the Decentralized Arts Program. It’s a program used to give out grants to artists across the state.

Fiddler David Greely got his start through a grant in the early ‘90s. “Since then I’ve literally been around the world playing Cajun music. I’ve been nominated for a Grammy three times. I teach Cajun music at music camps across Louisiana and all over the US and Europe. I’ve also entertained multiplied thousands of people who come to Louisiana to hear our music.” Greely says cutting the arts is like cutting off an arm. “This is the number two industry in Louisiana. Our cultural environment here. People come here from all over. We want Louisiana to be more attractive, not less.”

Artists marched through Baton Rouge hoping to drum up support and encourage legislators not to approve Jindal’s budget. UL Lafayette professor Keith Dorwick says, “I don’t know what I’ll do if the DAF grant that I’ve been counting on for the second part of the play is cut. If that isn’t available I don’t know how I’m going to do my project.”

Artists and art supporters say they won’t give up. Hopefully their demonstrations and their letter writing campaign will help change their fate. The Decentralized Art Funding program provides grants to community theaters, art camps, and public performances. Artists tell us an 83% cut will cost jobs and hurt the economy.