Why a Veteran Hollywood Costume Designer Chose New Orleans

Joel Kotkin, executive director of newgeography.com, has a thought-provoking piece about the booming film and TV production scene in Louisiana. Like Hollywood in the 1920s, Greenwich Village in the 1950s, Haight-Ashbury in the 1960s and Seattle in the 1980s, he suggests that New Orleans is the new go-to U.S. city for priced-out entertainment industry workers still looking for arts and culture excitement.

Kotkin talked to Wingate Jones, son of a former manager of LA’s Western Costume Company (John Golden), about why the former chose to open a similar business in New Orleans in 2010. The operator of Southern Costume Company raves about NOLA’s cheaper food, housing and culture, but it is the article author who shares the most intriguing aspect of New Orleans’ show business resurrection:

Ironically, Hurricane Katrina provided the critical spark for this transformation. It devastated the torpid, corrupt political and business culture that viewed the arts as quaint and fit only as a selling point for tourists. In its place came more business-minded administrations in New Orleans and in Baton Rouge, the state capital.

In both places, economic developers seized on motion pictures, television, commercials and video games as potential growth industries that fit well with the state’s expanding appeal to this generation’s creators.

It’s not all rosy. As a commenter astutely points out on the Forbes version of the same article, for its $600 million film and TV tax incentive investments, Lousiana may have reaped as little as a $100 million tax-dollar return.

[Photo: Natalia Bratslavsky/Shutterstock.com]