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Essence CEO Wanga: Festival "Never Leaves" New Orleans

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The Associated Press

Associated Press

Chevel Johnson

New Orleans (AP) —Essence Chief Executive Officer is repeatedly asked if the Essence Cultural Festival is staying in New Orleans. Said that. On Thursday, Caroline Wanga ended her speculation and she made the answer to her question very clear.

She said, "The Cultural Essence Festival never leaves the city of New Orleans," Wanga said in the news to welcome a face-to-face event after a two-year forced break. I mentioned it repeatedly at the meeting. COVID-19 Pandemic.

"We are embedded and born together," Wanga said of the relationship between the brand and her city. "We need each other."

The city's current contract with the festival will continue until 2024. Discussions are currently underway on the extension of the contract, said John F. Lawson, deputy spokesman for the administration of Mayor LaToya Cantrell.

The Essence Fest began in 1995 as a one-off salute to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Essence magazine. Known as a "party with a purpose," its original mission was to give back to the community through free seminars aimed at enriching women's lives. Since then, Essence Fest has evolved into the world's largest celebration of black women, culture and community, attracting more than 500,000 visitors over the past few years.

Before the break in the pandemic caused the de facto birth of the festival, except in 2006, when he moved to Houston while the Superdome was being repaired following Hurricane Katrina. , Was held every year in New Orleans. According to the organizers, the virtual experience has recorded over 100 million views.

This year, they also said they were the first to offer live components and virtual connectivity options. Hulu will be the official streaming platform for the festival, offering carefully selected programming such as panel discussions and nightly music performances. The live stream runs from Friday to Sunday at 7pm. CDT until 11:59 pm.

Cantrell thanked Essence and its corporate partners for returning to the city "to invest in our community and neighborhood."

"Needs are great and now is the time," she said.

Since its inception, the festival has been a major economic driver of the summer. Over the past few years, it has affected the city's revenues by $ 200 million, and tourism officials say it is expected to generate more this year.

New Orleans and Company spokeswoman Kelly Schultz, who tracks hotel occupancy in the French Quarter and Central Business District, said hotels are about 90% on Fridays and Saturdays and about 80% on Sundays. Said that it is expected to be. Festival closing night. Resident numbers reflect or are close to the numbers reported in 2019, when the festival last held a face-to-face event.

"Returning to the festival is very important," Schultz said. "In New Orleans, there was a lot of sickening demand for this, not just hotels. It comes from our restaurants, our music clubs, shops, artists and tour groups," she said. We are excited that the ecstatic essences are back on our calendar and have them here. "