Glasgow was awarded the designation of UNESCO City of Music in 2008.
The title is widely seen as a prestigious and internationally-respected brand which recognizes and celebrates Glasgow’s rich musical heritage and exceptional music scene
We caught up with David Laing - Head of Arts, Music & Cultural Venues at Glasgow Life ahead of Resonate 2017.
Glasgow became a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network in 2008, for those who don't know, tell us a bit about that and what it meant for the city
The UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) was created in 2004 to promote cooperation with and among cities that are placing creativity and cultural industries at the heart of their development plans at the local level and cooperating actively at the international level.
Our bid to become a City of Music in 2008 was supported by the UK Prime Minister, Scotland’s First Minister, the Lord Provost of Glasgow and figures from the music world such as Franz Ferdinand, Tommy Smith, Nicola Benedetti and many other leading creative figures.
It entitles the city to use the designation locally, nationally and internationally, to benefit all involved in music of any genre and at any level in the city - from professionals and academic institutions, the commercial music industry, the amateur and community sectors, and audiences from seasoned gig-goers to the very young experiencing music for the first time.
The designation is managed on behalf of Glasgow City Council by Glasgow Life - we also manage Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, the Old Fruitmarket, Tramway, City Halls, Celtic Connections festival, and the Kelvingrove Bandstand.
The objectives of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network are: sharing knowledge and best practices; pilot projects, partnerships and initiatives associating the public and private sectors; professional and artistic exchange; studies, research and evaluations; and communication and awareness raising activities.
[note I have quoted the UCCN objective instead of the UNESCO objectives because the UNESCO Creative Cities Network is related to, but not the same as, UNESCO itself]
Can you inform us of some recent projects you've supported which are founded on this basis
I can give you a brief flavour of just a few areas we work in.
Through the Creative Cities Network we’ve sent Glasgow bands over to play at festivals in Japan, Germany, France and Poland, to our fellow Cities of Music.
We’ve also worked with People Make Glasgow to place new bands like Teen Canteen and Elephant Sessions on the soundtrack to cinema and social media films promoting the city as a tourist destination and these had led to international exposure.
In recognition of the musical talent in Glasgow, we’ve instituted UNESCO City of Music Awards at the Jazz Festival, the Scottish International Piano Competition, and the upcoming Nordoff Robbins Scottish Music Awards.
We produce Glasgow’s leg of International Jazz Day and we created a new stage at the Merchant City Festival to promote Glasgow bands.
We work to ensure Glasgow’s young people are exposed to music through concerts, workshops and creative events for children and their families which brings together some of Scotland’s top music providers including Scottish Opera, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and Celtic Connections.
Since 2016, Glasgow UNESCO City of Music has worked on consultation, research and engagement with Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, Scottish Enterprise and other stakeholders to contribute to strategies to grow the value and quality of music tourism in the city.
We also work on policy, research, and sharing of data with our fellow Creative Cities around the world, on everything from noise regulations, licensing and planning, to studies on the creative economy – anything that can help support the music sector and promote music within Glasgow, and around the world.
We're over the moon to have UNESCO as one of our #Resonate2017 partners. How important is it for you to be seen to support a whole range of creative programs?
It’s vital that all parts of the music sector feel supported and included in the City of Music project. Along with the examples of policy, community music work and youth music education, it’s important we work with the music business as well. The Resonate event is a great addition to the city and we’re delighted to support it.
UNESCO are sponsoring Resonate's 'Developing The Infrastructure of Scotland's Music Industry' panel which features Dougal Perman (SMIA), Rachael Brown (Cultural Enterprise Office), Neil Semple (Department of International Trade), Geoff Ellis (DF Concerts) and Alan Morrison (Creative Scotland). What would you like to hear discussed at this panel?
Two recurring issues we consider are the challenges small venues face within the context of urban development, like licensing and planning; and the development of new talent and how musicians can make a living and find a way to market and sell their music. Smaller live venues are the grass roots of the whole scene, and new talent coming through is the lifeblood of the industry. We are always thinking about how we can help support these areas. It would be great to hear what this excellent panel of experts have to say on these issues.
What are your top tracks being played in the office right now?
Sacred Paws ‘Everyday’, Anna Meredith’s ‘Something Helpful’ and an old Handsome Boy Modelling School track ‘The Truth’ are what I’m listening to as I type this!