UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network |Part 2| Glasgow City of Music

Last week we introduced this first article in a new series of articles about UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network to appear here on the Place Management and Branding blog. We began with the first part of Kenneth Wardrop’s two part article in which he explored Edingburgh as Scotland’s City of Literature. We continue this week with part two of Kenneth Wardrop’s article about Scotland in which he explores Glasgow as a Creative City of Music.

Glasgow City of Music:

guest article by Kenneth Wardrop

Glasgow is the UK’s first and currently the only Creative City of Music. It is also currently one of four international cities of music including Seville, Bologna and Ghent. The city has a vibrant music scene across a number of genres covering the whole spectrum from contemporary and classical to Celtic and Country. Major and famous venues include Glasgow’s Barrowlands, the City Halls, Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC), and Royal Concert Hall, with the city hosting an average of 130 music events each week. The city is home to the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Scottish Opera, and to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (formerly the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama).

One of the most creative examples of developing creative or cultural tourism product is the music festival Celtic Connections which takes place over 18 days in the city in January each year, attracting an audience of 100,000 (many of whom are international visitors), and generating an estimated economic impact in 2010 of €11.6m for the city.

The Glasgow City of Music aims to:  promote excellence in all sorts of music from rock to opera; to stimulate interest in musical education; to improve access to music for all ages and social and ethnic backgrounds; to take part in the global network of UNESCO Creative Cities.

Glasgow has creatively and effectively used the City of Music designation to secure the Music of Black Origin (MOBO) Awards to the city. Glasgow in 2009 was the first host city outside of London to stage these high profile awards.

The Award ceremony will return to Glasgow in October 2011, this is part of a three year deal supported by the Scottish Government through EventScotland to bring the Award ceremony to the city in 2011, 2013 and 2015. In 2013 the event will be staged in Glasgow’s new 12,000 seat €144m national arena the ‘Scottish Hydro Arena’.  It is estimated that the three year deal will bring €3.45m economic benefit to the city and raise the city and city of music’s international profile through the extensive media coverage the award ceremony attract. The city has also successfully attracted a number of large scale music related conferences to the destination.  The MOBO Awards represent a powerful tool for the city in its drive to change perceptions of the destination as Scotland’s style capital using its city brand – Glasgow: Scotland with style.

In February 2011 the two Creative Cites, in a powerful collaborative partnership staged the one – off  festival Lets Get Lyrical wonderfully linking and celebrating the literary nature of song lyrics in Edinburgh and their musicality in Glasgow.  The festivals website allowed people, including writers, musicians and songwriters, to share stories about the lyrics they love. The month – long festival included a packed programme of live, lyric-inspired events. February 2011 saw 86 special lyrics-based events across two cities, involving 69 partner organisations. This is a good example of the creative application of the designation to stimulate cultural based tourism.

2012 has been designated the Year of Creative Scotland using the branding Scotland: the Perfect Stage by the Scottish Government, with a commitment of an investment of just short of €7m, and the objective to:

…celebrate and promote Scotland’s cultural and creative vibrancy, shine a spotlight on our creative assets; providing a chance to work together to promote Scotland’s festivals, our great cities, to get Scotland dancing, to recognise our great historic names of culture and contemporary icons; to shine a spotlight on the contribution that people and places play in making us a leading creative nation and create a global platform for the talent of today’s creative Scotland.

Both the Edinburgh City of Literature and Glasgow City of Music will be playing a full part in advancing the objectives of this Scottish wide initiative.

Looking forward it will be interesting to see whether amongst consumers the UNESCO Creative Cities designation becomes an identified and meaningful brand in the same way as the UNESCO World Heritage Site designation. Also how the network will realise UNESCO’s ambitions to develop ‘creative tourism’.  I believe this will be down to the efforts of the individual cities, developing visitor accessible product, and their efforts in partnership to realise creative and innovative profile raising promotional activities.  Also how strongly the Creative Cities network becomes mutually supporting as it grows in number and becomes mature.   I am confident that Glasgow and Edinburgh, based on experience to date, will play a lead role in shaping and progressing this exciting initiative.

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