Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser (R-LA)
In his first year and a half serving the state of Louisiana, Lt. Gov. 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. He 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. The Lt. Governor 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. “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.
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.”