3rd European Forum on Music: Re>>generating Europe through music
Over 120 music practitioners from across Europe came to Glasgow to discuss the role of music in the regeneration of cities, and whether, and if so then how, this can be applied to a broader European context.
The Scottish city of Glasgow, a UNESCO City of Music, which since the 1980s has been undergoing a transformation from a former industrial city to a cultural and creative metropolis, was chosen as the setting for the Forum.
The opening speeches were held by Pete Wishart, Member of Parliament for the Scottish National Party and former Runrig keyboard player, and Simon Frith, sociomusicologist from the University of Edinburgh. Wishart stressed the economic benefits of music and the creative industries, a sector which has continued to grow even in the current times of economic and financial crisis, and whose power can have an effect on the remainder of the economy. According to Wishart, any further growth of the music and creative sectors will be highly dependent on the protection of and compliance with copyright.
Simon Frith responded that the music industry does not create a music culture, but rather, a vibrant music culture contributes greatly to the development of a music industry. A vibrant music culture however is not necessarily measurable along economic parameters, as far more people actively make music than those for whom it is a source of income. The music industry of course puts more of an emphasis on the developments of the mainstream, whereas the role of the public is to enable innovative idea creation and to mobilise new audiences. Frith concluded with a question: “What is good music for a country, region or city? What is a good country, region or city for music?” He went on to answer himself, by highlighting the value of geography, sociology and social psychology for the development of a prosperous and vibrant music culture.
Thanks to the manifold wide range of round tables, workshops, lectures and project presentations, the Forum illustrated how investing in music and culture can make a positive contribution to developments at local and above all at city level; yet how can this be transferred to the European level? Picking up Frith’s theory, if a variety of factors are necessary for the development and maintenance of a vibrant music culture, so too the much-lauded “unity in diversity” is required for a vibrant Europe. The regeneration of Europe can therefore only be successful if there is investment in diversity, and therefore also in culture and social cohesion.
In relation to this, Ann Branch’s presentation on the latest developments on the EU’s future culture and media programme Creative Europe was not very encouraging, as she prepared the participants for the fact that cuts to the 7 year 1.8 billion Euro budget are likely.This decision is dispiriting and should be reconsidered in the upcoming budget negotiations – for Europe needs music and music needs Europe.