NEW ORLEANS, May 3, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- New Orleans Mayor Mitchell J. Landrieu welcomed nearly 50 delegations representing cities and countries from around the U.S. and the world to New Orleans for the 2012 World Cultural Economic Forum (WCEF) this week. WCEF is connecting mayors and thought leaders from around the world who are exchanging ideas, building partnerships between their cities, and shaping the discussion on culture as an effective tool to spur innovation. "In New Orleans we value culture and those who create it. It drives our tourism economy and increases our quality of life. In short, culture equals jobs. The vibrancy that culture adds to our City makes us the global model for growing a true cultural economy. For this reason, we offer New Orleans as the global meeting place for leaders on this subject as we host them during the World Cultural Economic Forum," said Mayor Landrieu. At WCEF this morning, Mayor Landrieu issued the 2011 New Orleans Cultural Economy Snapshot. The report is the second ever comprehensive analysis that quantifies all aspects of the cultural economy in New Orleans: individual artists/producers/originators, for-profit businesses, non-profit organizations and community-based organizations. Highlights include findings that the cultural sector in New Orleans has 30,400 jobs, an increase of 6.7% since 2009, and that in 2011, the local cultural economy had almost 50% more employees than the national average. The full Cultural Economy Snapshot can be downloaded at nola.gov. The City of New Orleans is partnering with the U.S. Conference of Mayors to present WCEF. Mayor Landrieu serves as Chair of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Tourism, Arts, Parks, and Entertainment and Sports Committee (TAPES). Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa, president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, joined Mayor Landrieu as a keynote. Domestic mayors and country delegations from Africa, Asia, Europe, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Central and South America are attending the WCEF. Attendees are participating in plenary and breakout sessions, bilateral meetings and cultural exhibitions. The dynamic three-day program is featuring a Global Town Hall where mayors will discuss how culture is being utilized to revitalize cities. The dialogue is open to the public and will be streamed live at www.wcefneworleans.com today, May 3 at 3:00 p.m. CST. Mayor Landrieu is entering into memoranda of understanding with Rosh Ha'Ayin, Israel; Klaipeda, Lithuania; and Batumi, Georgia. Attendees will end the forum by experiencing one of the greatest demonstrations of a cultural economy at work when they visit the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell.