Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne (R-LA)
Over the past two years, Lieutenant Governor Dardenne has created a new tourism brand "Louisiana: Pick Your Passion," in order to focus on food, music, festivals and the cultural diversity of the state.
Upon taking office, he assumed all responsibilities of the secretary of the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism as one of the duties of the lieutenant governor; and the savings realized from eliminating this position were plowed back into the department to support programmatic efforts.
Lt. Governor Dardenne has promoted the establishment of 59 cultural districts in 34 towns and 24 parishes across the state with a net growth of 682 new businesses, 168 of which are cultural businesses; 1,358 events took place in cultural districts, attended by 5.5 million people.
As Secretary of State (2006-2010), he raised more than $1 million in private funding to help match state dollars which resulted in an exhibit redesign in Louisiana's Old State Capitol; the project was one of sixteen winners of the prestigious THEA Award from the Themed Entertainment Association as an outstanding museum attraction
As State Senator (1992-2006), he not only chaired the Arts in Education Task Force, but authored the “two percent for arts” legislation, which requires two percent of the budget for all state construction projects to be dedicated to the purchase and placement of works of art in every newly-constructed state building. Over the past twelve years, 113 art works have been purchased and installed under the program.
He also authored legislation establishing Louisiana's aggressive film tax credit program, launching a major new industry for Louisiana, which now ranks third in the nation (behind California and New York) as a destination for movie making.
Finally, as a Private Citizen, Lt. Governor Dardenne, authored, developed and performs a 2 ½ hour show entitled "Why Louisiana Ain't Mississippi," a colorful and lively look at Louisiana's culture, history, demography, music and politics.
On the lighter side, Jay was the 2005 winner in the "Vile Pun" category of the Bulwer Lytton Contest, a tongue-in-cheek international writing competition sponsored by San Jose State University to identify the worst opening line to the worse novel imaginable; also received "dishonorable mentions" to entries in 2008 and 2009.