Americans for the Arts and the National Lieutenant Governors Association (NLGA) today announced that Louisiana Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser will be awarded the Public Leadership in the Arts Award for State Arts Leadership today at NLGA’s annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee. The annual award honors a public official who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in the advancement of the arts at the state level.
“Lt. Governor Nungesser is a true champion for the arts in Louisiana,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “His continued efforts to expand access to the arts and promote the multiple values of arts and culture are a testament to his understanding of the vital role the arts play in building community.”
In his first year and a half serving the state of Louisiana, Nungesser spearheaded Culture 2020, a partnership with Louisiana First Lady Donna Edwards to develop the vision for the next four years of arts, preservation, and culture in Louisiana. Together they formed the advocacy group Louisiana Citizens for Culture.
Nungesser also developed a plan for the creative use of tourism funds to support the efforts of the Division of the Arts following a severe decrease in funding from the state budget. These funds made it possible for continued support of the operations of eight regional arts councils and 72 arts organizations, along with 232 project assistance grants serving all 64 parishes/counties. Through these Division of the Arts grants and services, over 5.2 million people benefitted including Louisiana residents and visitors. Nungesser’s insistence on the continuation of these grant funds throughout the state leveraged over $82 million dollars in project and organizational revenue.
Nungesser has promoted and supported the Louisiana Cultural Districts program, an economic development initiative, providing incentives that contribute to increased business opportunities, new markets for cultural products, increased artist production, renovations of older buildings, increased cultural activity, and a greater sense of community identity. There are now 89 cultural districts, in 59 towns and 36 parishes/counties.
Uniquely Louisiana—a new portal to explore Louisiana Educational Resources, including lesson plans that address arts education and local learning/folklife—received Nungesser’s support. He also championed the efforts of Percent for Art to ensure continuation of funding and ultimately of the program when faced with legislative changes that would have discontinued the program. To date, Percent for Art has completed more than 211 projects at 27 facilities statewide.
Lt. Governor Nungesser proudly expressed his fondness for the arts: “Our children are our future, and the arts are a vital connection to our past. We need to be sure that we foster that from a young age like we do with our Uniquely Louisiana program back home.”
“The Louisiana Citizens for Culture is proud to have Lt. Gov. Nungesser as our leader for the arts! He recognizes that exposure to the arts and participation in the arts are the birthright of every citizens in Louisiana. He also knows the importance of the arts to Louisiana tourism,” said Joycelyn L. Reynolds, president of Louisiana Citizens for Culture.
Americans for the Arts and NLGA have jointly presented the Public Leadership in the Arts Award for State Arts Leadership since 2016.
Americans for the Arts is the leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education in America. With offices in Washington, D.C., and New York City, it has a record of more than 55 years of service. Americans for the Arts is dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts. For more information visit www.AmericansForTheArts.org