We have been investigating connections between ideas, practices, and strategies of performance and city resilience in New Orleans since 2018. We are currently working on a new book for Louisiana State University Press, in which we reflect on our work in the city.
We focus on generating new knowledge and impacting usefully on government, organisations, and companies in the city. While we are concerned that our work in the city should speak directly to the city, we also recognise there are important findings from the city that can be valuable nationally and internationally. This is particularly productive because it resists a sense of New Orleans as exceptional (see, notably Lynelle Thomas on the risks of exceptionalism in Desire and Disaster in New Orleans).
Resilience can be a challenging and at times unsettling term, and we have written on this here. However, we are also aware that there is value in working to change definitions, and the practices by which these definitions are actioned. Our work seeks to ‘rethink’ resilience, emphasise the value of resilient practices and perspectives within the city, and find productive means to connect these together.
Often the impact of our work is located within organisations and we value the safe space of having closed conversations with organisations. However, our work has resulted in very tangible changes in understanding, practice, and strategy. Indicatively, see these statements (2019) from city stakeholders including Arts Council New Orleans and Hazard Mitigation.
In writing a book on the city, we regard it as essential that we share our emerging work with people in New Orleans. In June, we will be sharing our work through events at Docville Farm in St. Bernard Parish, at Catapult, and at RiverFest.
Plenary Panel: American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR) conference: In November 2022, we were delighted to host a conversation between key voices in arts and resilience in New Orleans for this significant US theatre conference. The panel reflected on the vital importance of performance to understandings and practices of the city, and resisted narratives that catastrophise the city. More information here.
Reimagining City Life: Covid-19 in New Orleans: In February, we visited the city to investigate responses to Covid-19, both by arts venues and the NOLAReady #SleevesUpNOLA campaign. As part of this work, we analysed approaches to Mardi Gras 2022, following the cancellation of the rolling parades in 2021. As part of this, we also reflected on the practice of house floats, which had reimagined the event in 2021.
Strategy Development: In June 2019, we led a series of bespoke workshops with arts and resilience professionals in the city. As part of this work, we were invited to contribute to the development process for the Hazard Mitigation Plan (2021). Separately, we worked with arts organisations on their individual strategy development. We report on this research visit here.
Survey: In March-April 2018, we conducted initial field research in New Orleans. You can find out more about the research via our blog here.