New Orleans-based blog CultureGulf provides an overview of the problems surrounding Musicians’ Village, the city’s planned housing complex dedicated to displaced musicians. The project–for which the city has partnered with Habitat For Humanity–has run into several snafus, with applicants being rejected due to having bad credit (or for having no credit at all). Two of the Village’s high-profile boosters, Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis, spoke to Gambit Weekly about the realities facing many artists who’ve lived from gig to gig:
Marsalis says he hopes the experience of buying and owning a home will forever end a long-standing local tradition among musicians of living on the financial brink — a lifestyle that he hates to see so many musicians accepting.
“Musicians, to me, are metaphoric for a lot of stuff that goes on in this city,” he says. “There needs to be a lot of change all over the city. The mentality has to change. Musicians have to understand that if you want to live a cash-and-carry existence and hide in the system, the system allows for that. We’ve all done it — get paid in cash — I personally remember times when I was a younger man, 25 or 30 years ago, if you got paid in cash you just put it in your pocket. But I didn’t own a home. I didn’t have a family. I didn’t have a job. I didn’t have an extended career. The system allowed me to do that. But the moment you own a home, you are now in the system … and if you don’t understand that there has to be a change in mentality, you won’t own the home very long.
What’s most bothersome is that several potential residents aren’t even bothering to apply at all, because they assume they’ll be rejected (Habitat is apparently allowing for lots of leeway in terms of paperwork, but considering how long some of these musicians have lived without steady income, there’s no doubt that several of them are going to fall through the cracks). More information on the project–and how to make a donation–here.