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English professor creates new website, talk show exploring New Orleans' cultural economy

Loyola press release - October 7, 2011

Loyola University New Orleans English professor Jarret Lofstead has partnered with the Louisiana Humanities Center and NOLAFugees Press to create The People Say Project, a new website and talk show designed to explore the intersections of culture and money in New Orleans.

“I wanted to develop a class for the Film and Digital Media concentration, and Brian Boyles, the public relations and public programming director for the Louisiana Humanities Center, wanted some in-house public programming for the spring 2011 season,” Lofstead said. “We discussed several potential topics and decided on 'Conversations on Culture and Money' because we feel the concept of a cultural economy bears further scrutiny.”

An ongoing series of live interviews, The People Say Project convenes artists to discuss the ways in which they earn a living in the city. The concept of cultural economy serves as a touchstone in discussions of the future of New Orleans and Louisiana, and the conversations feature the beneficiaries and catalysts of this industry.

The first component of the project is Lofstead’s Writing Technique/Technology class, which requires students to research and develop content for thepeoplesayproject.org with the support of Monroe Library's online learning librarian, Brian Sullivan, who helps direct students’ research.

“This semester’s coursework will culminate with each student developing a final project that examines some aspect of the cultural economy,” Lofstead said. “The idea is to give students the opportunity to develop skills in digital authoring, research, and writing, and community interaction – the basis of a digital humanities curriculum.”

The final element of the project is a fully-produced and edited talk show, which is posted on the project’s website. “For the show, Boyles facilitates a conversation between two cross-generational and/or cross-racial guests who work in the same genre,” Lofstead said. “We film the show before a live studio audience, and then open it up to a public question and answer section.”

The first show, a conversation between New Orleans burlesque stars Trixie Minx and Wild Cherry, was taped in September and is available to view online. The next event, a special New Orleans Film Fest edition featuring Ben Jaffe of Preservation Hall and Gabriel Velasco of Los Poboycitos, will be taped on Oct. 18, followed by Anne Gisleson and Vera Warren-Williams on Nov. 15. Both events will be held at the Louisiana Humanities Center, 938 Lafayette Street. Doors open at 5 p.m. for a free happy hour reception, and conversation begins at 6 p.m. The final event on Dec. 13, featuring Dee-1 and George Porter Jr., will be ticketed and will include food and a live band at The Maison on Frenchman Street.

For more information, contact Lofstead at 504-865-2771 or jjlofste@loyno.edu.