Letter: Musicians deserve our support

Re: “State launches ad campaign,” The Advocate, Feb. 14.

I salute Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and the Louisiana Department of Tourism for investing in promoting the music of Louisiana and New Orleans as a means of attracting tourists to our state. Nowhere else in the country is music more ingrained in the culture of a people. As the poster states, “Where the music never stops, and most of it started.” Nothing could be truer.

The article didn’t mention that the average musician in New Orleans earns $12,000-$15,000 per year, well below the poverty level. They rely on the New Orleans Musicians Clinic for health care, where 85 percent of them are treated for chronic conditions such as hypertension, depression and diabetes.

These professional musicians in New Orleans are exposed to serious risks to their health including hearing loss, carpal tunnel syndrome, first- or second-hand smoke and lung problems and psychological depression. They are under a lot of pressure to support themselves and their families in a profession that seems to be able to skirt around the issue of a minimum wage or any benefits whatsoever.

While we invest in the music, shouldn’t we also be investing in the musicians who create it? Without the musicians, there is no music. If tourism is indeed a $10 billion industry, certainly the musicians who help create it should not be in a position of struggling to survive.

We do need to invest in the music, but I think we should also be investing in our musicians. They are one of our greatest resources. Let’s show them.

Dave Holt

construction specialist

New Orleans