The fate of Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve in New Orleans fell into question after the mayor insisted Lauren Daigle should not be included in the production, critical of her recent performance at a mask-less praise and worship event.
Orleans Tourism and Cultural Fund voted Friday, 5 to 1, to front the full half a million-dollar bill, keeping New Orleans on the national stage as the countdown for the entire central time zone.
“This was going to be in agreement and a funding in partnership with the state. That has changed,” Board President Lisa Alexis said.
Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser pulled all $500,000 of the funding for Rockin’ New Year’s Eve after Mayor Latoya Cantrell said she did not want Lauren Daigle to perform, who’s the ambassador for Nungesser’s Tourism campaign, the Sunshine Plan.
Nungesser says without Daigle and her fan base, he wasn’t getting the best bang for the taxpayer’s buck.
“This allows us to use dollars that were intended for major events to save a major event in the city of New Orleans,” John Pourciau, Chief of Staff for the Mayor’s Office, said.
Although it will look very different this time around, it will feature all local artist performances and interviews with first responders on the front lines of the pandemic in a total eight minutes of air time versus last year’s 25 minutes.
“This is network coverage,” Board Member Lloyd Dennis said. “There’s a pent-up desire all over the world to travel and this allows us to be in a position in the front of mind because everybody in the world is trying to decide where they want to go next.”
While most of the board members agreed this would show the country what we have to offer also putting on display how the city has handled COVID, Councilwoman Kristin Palmer felt the fund isn’t meant to promote, rather to invest in the people.
“How can we vote on this if we don’t know what is the percentage of the money that is staying local?” Palmer asked. “What is the percentage of the money that’s actually going to our local cultural economy?”
The entire production will be run by a local company, the Solomon Group.
“It will allow people to keep a job they thought that they had that’s going to promote the city in a great efficient way and a happy and hopeful way for the new year,” Pourciau said.