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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 August 2007, 08:58 GMT 09:58 UK
'We are open for business'
By Caroline Briggs
BBC News, New Orleans

Mitch Landrieu, Lieutenant Governor of the State of Louisiana, and head of its culture, recreation and tourism department, talks about how tourism can help boost New Orleans's "cultural economy" after Hurricane Katrina.

New Orleans has a very authentic and distinct culture that comes from our history.

Louisiana is the only state in the nation that at one time had the French flag flying over it, then the Spanish flag, and then the United States flag, so this city is very culturally diverse.

Mitch Landrieu, Lieutenant Governor of the State of Louisiana
Mitch Landrieu lives in New Orleans

What was really heart-warming after Katrina was that the world really gasped at the possibility of all the artists and musicians who make up the cultural fabric of the 'gumbo' - whether it was Zydeco music, whether it was jazz, whether it was classical music - would maybe somehow go away.

So we are hopeful now that if we can get the help of the international community we can regrow, basically, what is the soul of America - because this is where it started.

Different parts of this country have different kinds of music, but it's not quite like what we have here.

It has probably been the musicians and the people in the cultural economy that have led the recovery effort since Katrina, but musicians and artists are no different from anyone else.

They need a house, they need a job, they need a school, the need good public transport, they need clean streets, they need safe cities, and this city is struggling to rebuild itself.

We continue to press very hard for the immense federal resources that are going to be required to rebuild the infrastructure.

We are open and operating for business and we are having a hell of a good time
Mitch Landrieu

If the infrastructure comes back, if people have a house, and they have a school to send their kids to, if it's a safe place to work and have a way to get there then it will be easier for individuals who are musicians to come back and live.

One of the things that has been really helpful is that people from around the world have hired our musicians to travel there and to work, and that has helped them very much.

But just like everything else, if you've have a sick child, it takes a long time for them to get well, and it's going to take New Orleans a way to get back to where it was before.

The breadth of the damage is just huge. We are always hopeful that [rebuilding] is going to go faster, but when you are down on the ground, and you are the one that's hurt, you know it's takes a lot, lot longer.

People are working hard individually on their own, but until there is a better co-ordinated effort on a federal, state and local level - which is my opinion doesn't exist right now - it's going to be slower that it should be.

For tourists, most of the things the world knows about New Orleans is still intact... and so the best way the international community can help us is to come here and visit and to spend their money.

You will help artists, you will help musicians, you will help chefs, you will actually help regrow the culture, and you will help the culture continue to lead the rebuilding effort.

We are not underwater, we are open and operating for business and we are having a hell of a good time.

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