Denver Music Summit

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The Future of Music: Music and the Creative Economy

I recently had an opportunity to listen in on discussions at the Denver Music Summit.  The event was put together in partnership between The Western States Arts Federation and The Denver Office of Cultural Affairs.  Not unlike virtual spaces, the city of Denver is trying to drive financially relevant impact through music.

This has been a focus for Denver for some time, as two-term Mayor, John Hickenlooper, discussed Richard Florida’s book, The Rise of the Creative Class, as part of his vision for this city during his initial election bid.  Florida described the positive impact of new ideas flourishing within a community, and made his case in the book that a thriving creative community is the foundation for broader economic vibrancy.  He defined the creative class as those who work to create new ideas, new technology, and new creative content. Florida captured Hickenlooper’s imagination as he argued cultivating creativity had broad economic benefits for the entire community.

In this spirit, Denver continues to explore ways to build and foster a sustainable music culture.  Communities with longstanding traditions:  New Orleans, Chicago, Austin, Seattle… earned their reputations spontaneously over a considerable time period.  How cool is it to create opportunities to ponder and support ways to proactively engage in a similar journey?  Smart move—yay, Denver!

The first discussion of Denver’s Music Summit, The Future of Music: Music and the Creative Economy, set the pace.  The first panelist to speak, Dr. Kwang-Wu Kim, dean and director of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, was very articulate in showcasing that arts education has applicability across our economy.  Innovation is, after all, creative in nature.

Does a strong music curriculum drive broader economic benefits?  The answer is a resounding, YES!  Dr. Kim noted this impact extends beyond the direct opportunities for career pursuit across the music food chain, such as sound engineers, songwriters, and performers.  Many of the skills a musician learns are highly portable, such as collaboration, rule-based management, discipline, managing ambiguity, and working as part of a diverse problem solving team.  The demand for these skills stretch far from music—very positively so.

For this reason, it was keenly understood amongst the panelists that music education tangibly supports and fosters a more vibrant economy.  This goes far beyond the tired mindset of “those that can’t, teach.”  The talk around the table focused on how to strengthen advocacy for music as an economic principle.

While education is a great first step, how else can a community encourage creativity in support of a financially vibrant community?  Creating spaces for and about music is crucial.  Next time we’ll review some well known face-to-face venues that are for and about music to see what they may have in common, and whether there are any implications for virtual venues.

Teddi Davis is eMarketer; Owner, The Exchange Tavern; and Editor, Free Play Virtually Live.
Logo image courtesy
Denver Music Summit
Denver image courtesy Jeff Pittman Art

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