City pledges to find new space for French Quarter artists

City pledges to find new space for French Quarter artists

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Jackson Square artists say they are being squeezed out with nowhere to turn, but the city says it's working to find a new place for artist carts to make way for an improvement project.

They are part of the landscape in the city's most important block.

"This is a big tradition worth preserving," said artist Kenneth Cook.

On any given day, dozens of artists line the fence at Jackson Square, just as they have done for decades. But change is coming.

"They doing this beautification thing, and they are moving through here," said artist Wendell Haynes.

The artists keep their carts filled with paints and canvasses in an area across Decatur Street underneath the river overlook, but many were stunned recently to see a sign post there.

"We were given a two week notice," said Cook.

The French Market Corporation posted a notice, telling the artists that they need to move their paint carts by Jan. 31 due to a beautification project that's forcing the city to shut down the storage area. French Quarter artists say their colony is unique, and instead of impeding it the city should embrace it.

"The art colony is in jeopardy," said Cook.

For it's part, the city says the artists' storage space must be cleared out for the beautification project. Spokeswoman Erin Burns says the "Carts currently in use can remain in their location until alternate spaces are identified."

But artists worry about what will happen.

"They're throwing a whole bunch of people into a real problem," said Cook.

"I ain't got a place down here to store my stuff," said Haynes.

The city says the riverfront improvement program involves the planting of new shrubs and trees, and new walls, steps and lighting.

So far there is no word on what alternate spaces may be found.

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