New Orleans Writers Housing Outreach Project

All about progress on the New Orleans Writers Housing Outreach and New Orleans Writers Museum projects and LA Writers Foundation.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Executive Summary of the Strategic Plan

After 2 1/2 years of planning and gaining support and consensus, here is the status of the formal Strategic Plan for the New Orleans Writers Museum and Louisiana Writers Foundation:

Executive Summary

The Louisiana Writers Foundation, (LWF), is a private, nonprofit foundation formed in March 2005 to foster the development and promotion of emerging writers, mostly in the New Orleans area.

LWF may consider developing a writers-in-residence program to allow writers to develop their works full-time. LWF will also raise and provide funding for the New Orleans Writers Museum (NOWM), a planned private nonprofit entity which will secure and preserve photographs, writings, letters, documents, articles, historical artifacts and other personal effects of significant writers who have lived in New Orleans. The purpose of NOWM will be to: 1) provide ongoing access to these items as an educational experience for schoolchildren and local residents; 2) serve as a tourist attraction to the general public; and, 3) serve as a repository for those interested in researching these writers. NOWM will also promote New Orleans’ and Louisiana’s rich literary history. This venture ties into the recent, “Cultural Economy” initiatives the state and city are pursuing. According to a recent study quoted by Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieu at a city council meeting, investment in tourism yields an approximate 16:1 return, so this is not just a cultural pursuit but also an economic one.

The NOWM may begin as a special exhibit at a related nonprofit location such as, Louisiana State Museum, Historic New Orleans Collection, or Ogden Museum of Southern Art until funding, collected archives and public support grow to the point that allow NOWM to launch fully in its own physical space. Fundraising events, including a, “Festival of Books,” are planned for September, 2005.

A long-term goal of the NOWM may be to evolve and create a more comprehensive Southern Writers Museum over the next 5-10 years. This would require a larger facility, although the plan would be to keep the NOWM separate. A long-term vision may be to create a Museum of American Literature.

A requirement for startup funding of $4M-$7.5M in the first two years is anticipated. The New Orleans Writers Museum will plan to generate revenue to sustain operations but will initially need to rely on donations from corporations, private foundations, public grants and private individuals. Recurring revenue streams will include literary tours, museum admissions, operation of a bookstore, café and gift shop and special events such as lectures, and workshops.

NOWM will also seek to develop innovative ways to generate revenue, such as through fees or royalties generated from TV or Internet broadcasts of readings, workshops and the like. Archived local literary content may also be viewed on a subscription basis, or sold on DVD. Licensing of “official” merchandise is also a potential source of revenue.

NOWM may consider commissioning a documentary film of the literary history of New Orleans for sale on-site, on its website and through distribution channels worldwide on DVD. Clips of the film could be played on demand in the NOWM exhibit area to make the exhibits more interactive and to particularly appeal to students visiting the facility.

An initial walk-through of the French Quarter building contemplated for housing the complex was conducted on December 28, 2004. Seven volunteers attended, including the building’s owner, writers, publishers, professors and a local government official. A follow up meeting was held in late January, and several smaller meetings with the Arts Council of New Orleans, LA State Museum staff and Historic New Orleans Collection staff were held in February and March, 2005. Incorporation papers were drawn in March with the help of pro bono legal assistance through the Arts Council, and an IRS tax identification number for the nonprofit was assigned. Formal 501 (c)(3) status will be sought.


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