Two candidates for Louisiana’s next lieutenant governor said Wednesday that private partnerships are key to efforts to promote the state’s cultural enterprise.

With dire state budget circumstances, it’s more important now than ever to tap into the resources businesses and private individuals can bring to the table, they told a forum crowd.

“Approach those corporate doors and start knocking on them,” East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Kip Holden said. “We have got to get out there and hustle.

“Get with these corporate people because a lot of them want to have their name being viewed out there.”

Jefferson Parish President John Young said Louisiana’s cultural initiatives are key to the state tourism industry, which is a moneymaker for Louisiana, bringing in $38 for every $1 spent.

“We need to look at public-private partnerships and as a group work with our legislators, work with the Governor’s Office” to underscore the importance of promoting the state’s culture, Young said.

Holden, Young and state Sen. Elbert Guillory, of Opelousas, participated in the forum held at the Old Governor’s Mansion. A fourth candidate, former Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser, did not attend.

The forum was sponsored by the Foundation for Historical Louisiana.

The four announced candidates are seeking the job held by Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne. Dardenne is running for governor this fall.

Guillory, Young and Nungesser are Republicans. Holden is a Democrat.

Guillory, Holden and Young promised to be strong advocates for the state’s cultural promotion efforts, including lobbying for restoration of state funding lost through a series of budget cuts.

Guillory put the prospects at nil that the situation will change in the next three or four years.

“The only thing that I can honestly do is tell you I would be a voice for and fight,” Guillory said.

The candidates fielded questions about various aspects of Louisiana’s cultural efforts ranging from museums and arts to historic preservation, archaeology and the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana.

Young said he would advise legislators “do not mess” with tax credits for historic preservation. “Old buildings have so much more character,” he said.

Young said the tax credit helps put vacant and blighted property back into commerce. In addition, he said the tax credits can be leveraged with federal dollars.

Holden said the tax credit is beneficial but the program needs to be monitored “to weed out the bad actors.”

The candidates had a little fun with a question about their support for CODOFIL .

Guillory began his reply speaking in French. “Not only am I part Cherokee but French,” he said. He noted his involvement in opening the French cultural center in Arnaudville.

Holden followed Guillory. “Je suis Kip Holden,” Holden said to laughter.

Not to be outdone, Young prefaced his remarks with “Merci.”

“I’m in favor of increasing the funding to CODOFIL; it’s that important,” Young said. He said test scores improve for students in French immersion programs.

Follow Marsha Shuler on Twitter, @MarshaShulerCNB. For more coverage of the State Capitol, follow Louisiana Politics at blog/.