Lafayette Is At A Cultural Crossroads

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Lafayette, Louisiana is at a cultural crossroads. Will we make the right choice? 

In one direction, we invest in ourselves to have restored and fair access to our cultural facilities and recreation centers, a vibrant cultural economy and tourism industry and a focus on local businesses and jobs.  In the other direction, we, as a city and parish, sacrifice that access in favor of higher salaries for the Mayor-President's appointed positions, better services in the unincorporated areas and what seems like a never-ending list of attacks on our culture and recreation for our kids, grandkids and ourselves. 


Closing the Heymann Performing Arts Center, Acadiana Nature Station, Lafayette Science Museum, Senior Centers, the Domingue Recreation Center, Heymann Park Recreation Center, J. Carlton James Activity Center and the George Bowles Activity Center were decisions made without utilizing existing funding and without any public discussion. How and where it was done was not fair, equitable or even discussed. This is a result of local leadership not taking the time to understand the impacts these actions would have on our community’s economic, social and physical health. Lafayette’s future depends on a series of decisions we must make today to determine what we value as a community. 


Join the growing coalition of concerned citizens who are taking a stand to protect funding and access to these public facilities impacted by the brash and understudied elimination of access and positions for these public assets.


Do we want Lafayette to remain a great place to raise a family as a center for innovative business, international tourism destination and a regional cultural hub, or do we want to waste what little budget we have toward building our way into Anywhere, USA?


Petition:

The citizens of Lafayette hereby respectfully petition the Lafayette City Council and the Lafayette Parish Council to take action to protect the rights of citizens in using the existing voter approved CREATE funds to support our culture and recreation and restore access. We ask the councils to take action on our behalf, as residents of the city and parish of Lafayette, to uphold our shared responsibility of protecting and acknowledging the positive impacts culture and recreation have on our economy, especially in the current crisis. 

Actions:

  1. We need to empower our City and Parish Councils to take immediate action. This administration has exhibited a pattern of dismantling our culture and recreation opportunities, but we recognize that the decision is ours to make in how we choose to react, act and invest now. We encourage our council members to examine options to pass an ordinance to block further layoffs, closures or budget cuts without council approval and opportunity for public discussion.
  2. We need to support the immediate utilization of the CREATE funds to protect the will of the voters and fulfill its intended purpose. The funds already generated by a parish-wide property tax were dedicated by citizens through a public election to support the CREATE Initiative to support culture and recreation. These funds should be immediately utilized for its intended purpose as it does not require any new or increased taxes. This existing fund is immediately available to protect and reopen the public facilities which are so vital to protecting and promoting our culture and recreation, but this was not utilized. These dedicated funds were approved by voters in 2017 however there was no public input requested before these facilities were closed nor was the will of the people considered in using this fund for its intended purpose to keep them equitably open and accessible. Instead, this administration has intentionally left these funds unused for this purpose and is asking voters this fall to rededicate this fund to roads and bridges and fire protection in the unincorporated areas - a measure that those benefiting citizens already voted down when asked to pay for it themselves. Our city and parish, as the majority, suffer for the benefit of a few.
  3. We need to form a Culture and Recreation Commission to make more informed decisions. This commission is to be formed immediately as led and directed by a joint collaboration of both councils that can proactively study the current economic, social and cultural impacts of the cultural economy through the CREATE Initiative investment and all public investment in arts, culture and recreation in the short-term and offer crucial evaluation in the long-term sustainability of public investment for culture and recreation.

We’re at this crossroads and there are only two options. Do we want to continue down this current path and see what we’ll lose next, or do we go in the right direction by taking action now before we’re just like anywhere else?

Please help us get the word out and share this campaign on your social media platforms and visit culturalcrossroads.la for graphics and information to share. Thank you for standing up for what our parents and grandparents fought for us to have and protect for our own kids and grandkids - the Lafayette we are proud to call home.